As independent masters of our lives ended when we began awakening to the fact that we have all become cogs in the bureaucratic machine, with our thoughts, feelings and tastes manipulated by government and industry and the mass communications.
Erich Fromm, “To have or to be”
Nowadays we like to think that art has autonomy, and that it has already achieved an independent position in relation to the society in which it is created. The question is how accurate this is, given that most of the production of contemporary art is financially supported by various legal entities that require playing by their rules of the game. The impact of art on the community, its didactic and andrological function, the valorization of program along with the explanation of the program’s impact on primary, secondary and tertiary users, are bureaucratic formulations that impede the freedom of art, which should not have a purpose and should not serve anyone or anything. Its only role should be fulfilling the nature determined by imagination, experimentality, beauty, ugliness, truth and freedom. Although initially completely independent from the provider of funds, perfectly unorganized and horizontally divided by its management structure, without the ambition to integrate into the financing system, supported only by enthusiasm on a voluntary basis, the festival eventually went through institutionalization, which required a certain adjustment to the form provided by funds providers. Before we accepted the rules of the system of creative industries and plunged into the corporate model of the organization, we wanted to go back to the beginning and create a festival built from below, without applications, accounting, fees, media announcements, sponsors and donors. We started to provide resistance and be absolutely independent and free. We decided to descend from Mirabela to the streets, beaches and eventually escape from civilization into the forest, which we declared to be the ultimate victory.
Mirabela, which has become a platform for the production of new works over the years, has demanded a shift from established practices in order to be revitalized. That is why the space of this complex served as an open-air gallery where video works and installations, sculptures and lectures were shown. Mirabela hosted the works by Ana Hušman, Igor Grubić, Marko Tadić, Marko Mestrović, Momčilo Golub, Sandra Sterle, Petar Grimani, Vice Tomasović, Gildo Bavčević, Milan Brkić, Ante Jelenić and Ante Kuštre.
On the second day in the city, there was the production of new works in the forms of performance and artistic installation. Live art in the urban public space of the city, at the city beach, the City Market, as well as in the nature park of the Cetina canyon and in private spaces became the solution for the development of the festival that was right here all along.
At the city’s sandy beach, Tina Vukasović, presented a realistic replica of herself, covered with sand so that only the puppet’s head and hands were visible. It looked as if somebody had fallen asleep on the beach, somebody who was covered with sand in order to create a happy photograph from the summer vacation. After several hours, the body of the doll remained motionless, the passers-by cautiously approaching and trying to figure out whether someone had died of heat or if it was a kind of provocation or joke; of course, nobody even thought that it could be a work of art.
Vinko Barić, triggered by the state of the caterers’ advertising aggression in the center of the city, presented a drawing of pigs that are overeating, with the inscription “Priceless”. The work was set within a chaos of randomly placed advertisements on the wall of a Modernist building of the former committee. This mental trap for passers-by was taken off and stolen by an unknown perpetrator only fifteen minutes after placement.
Vice Tomasović installed two large reliefs on both sides of an ATM, creating a temporary capitalist sacral object in the urban area, a sort of a chapel of consumerism. Emphasizing the absurdity of excessive installation of these facilities in the public space, but also pointing to the moral problems of worshipping money, the artist spontaneously knelt in front of the ATM and contemplated for ten minutes.
Julija Tomasović set up a pig-shaped sculpture made of children’s toys in a city street. The work was created during a project „Introducing pupils of elementary school age with contemporary art“. The pupils donated toys that were then pushed into a cage, forming a pig, and they themselves wrote artistic statements in the form of criticism of established and accepted social habits. Through the method of conversation, children concluded that stinginess, social neglect and exploited attitude towards people and animals are the essence of most social problems.
Marija Ančić made a note of remembrance of the day she left Sarajevo as a nine-year-old refugee. The story of her departure was divided into several parts and installed into the space so that the intimate story on a small paper was lost to the vast billboard information, as every other personal refugee story is lost in the noise of other information. Whenever the media reports about the refugee crisis, we are talking about numbers or statistics that depersonalize people. On the main city street — Fošal, Marija’s work, however unnoticeable at first glance, aroused the interest of some passers-by who tried to make out the whole story from these segments. But at the same time, many passers-by walked indifferently, which reminded the artist to her past experience. At the moment when a man goes through such a trauma, it’s almost unthinkable that at the same time, life goes smoothly for other people.
Vedran Urličić self-initiated his bonding to the 17th-century pillar of shame, and two meters away he set up a basket with various objects such as vegetables, mud and water balloons. Above the basket, there was an inscription inviting the passers-by to aim at the artist, and the performance ended when the entire arsenal was empty.
Ivan Perić pasted a menu on a road sign that marks the entrance to the city of Omiš, criticizing the fact that the old city is completely and absolutely assimilated by the caterers. Each street in the city center is filled with billets, so it’s almost impossible not to think that the city has become one big dinner hall.
Darwin Butković walked along the narrow streets of the city, which are practically impassable in the summer, and he was printing his own dirty footsteps on white paper. “Omiš Canvas”, a work from the series “Traces of Darwin SA”, was donated to the organizers.
Hrvoje Cokarić and Vanja Pagar presented a part of the Toward Europe project by selling the donkey feces with the sealed logo of the Croatian Tourist Board. The “Gray Manifesto” consists in branding and selling feces as an autochthonous Croatian product. The product is donated by the last Dalmatian donkeys from the public space of the ZOO (Natural History Museum), which is the most important green public space and the sunny garden of the city of Split. As a counterpoint to mass tourism, they acted on the sarcasm and cynicism of smart tourists, whom this action made smile at first, but few of them were even willing to buy the autochthonous Dalmatian souvenir.
A short film about the elections in Trstenik “KVART za kvart” by Šimun Šitum was shown at the Omiš City Museum. The association for contemporary art KVART operates since 2006 in the city quarter of Trstenik in Split. It gathers artists from the nearby environment and organizes exhibitions in the closed and open spaces in the city quarter of Trstenik, and since last year they have become an important political factor in the area. Clashing with the two strongest parties in Croatia, using smart jokes and turns, they took power in the Split quarter Trstenik. An apolitical list without a specific program, but with sincere empathy for neighbors, showed a new model that would be desirable at a wider scale. The artists have proven to be an evolutionary shift in politics with the visionary message: WE ARE HERE TO HELP.
The last days of the festival’s 6th edition took place in the untouched nature of the Cetina River Canyon.
Gildo Bavčević performed the “Plastic Manmachine” in which he was naked, wearing a construction helmet, banging his head against the stone on which he was standing. The crowd stood on one side of the river, and the artist, on the other side, repeating the mechanical dehumanizing action, emphasizing thus the contrast to the nature surrounding it. A small man who becomes an obedient machine, opposed to the nature that he is destroying, seems to be unaware that he cannot survive without nature.
Petar Grimani led an art workshop that was actually a preparation for the installation performance “Bridge”. The work itself was performed on the river Cetina on the same day. The human body covered with foil for survival, one meter away from each other, bridged the river by joining two shores.
Efra Avila held a performative guidance through nature, explaining the aspects of Indian beliefs. The group moved along the established pedestrian path upon which the artist installed ecology messages.
In the evening, Ivan Sorić — Suri was reading poetry from his own, then unpublished, collection of poems.
Throughout the whole event, Ante Jelenić played ambient music on instruments inspired by Neolithic instruments.