Hristina Ivanoska & Yane Calovski

Hristina Ivanovska and Yane Calovski

The work of Hristina Ivanovska and Yane Calovski is dynamic
and engaging on many levels – they use performance, installation and various
media to interact with local history, global art history, and individuals on a
personal level.

While in Skopje, I met with Hristina, to speak about the NGO
that she had founded together with her partner Yane, Press to Exit. Yane was
giving a presentation in Tokyo, so I spoke to Hristina about their work together. In the course of the
conversation, while speaking about other artists and exhibition projects,
little by little it came out that Hristina is an artist herself, with a very
vibrant portfolio, creating work also together with Yane as an artistic team.
Hristina’s own modesty speaks to the kind of work that she creates – one that
is audience-centered, where the artist steps back and lets the viewer engage
and co-create.

The first project Hristina told me about was her solo performative
piece Stone Soup, based on the
traditional folk story known far and wide in Europe and North America. The
story, she tells me, is about acceptance, and how to become accepted in a
community, which is how she utilized it in her work. It is also about
cooperation and collaboration, which I think is at the heart of much of both her
work and hers and Yane’s. The artist recreated the story in real life, in several
different venues – in Stockholm, Vienna and Ljubljana. It brought together
people from various sectors of the community to collectively make one pot of
soup – or one work of art.

In 2001, following the political crisis in Macedonia,
Hristina, together with Yane, set out to connect with their country – literally
– by traversing the land. They did so in a rather unconventional fashion, not
taking the “direct route,” but traveling in a spiral, referencing Robert
Smithson’s well-known 1970 Land Art work, Spiral
Jetty
. The two began their travels at the center of Macedonia and ended up
in Skopje. The work references not only art history, but also local history, as
the artists called upon their education in nature and social studies that was
prevalent in the socialist period. It was even titled Nature and Social Studies: Spiral Trip. The work was exhibited as a video, with drawings and photo
documentation, and a book that was interactive and not bound. So the
interactive nature of the performance was carried on in the dissemination of
the work, when the viewer has to physically engage with the work through the
manipulation of the book documenting the trip, traversing that spiral with
them.

The pair continued their exploration of that infinite form
by creating a spiral swim line in Puerto Rico, using recycled material. Unlike
Smithson’s work, which was stationary, Hristina and Yane made a work that was
even more dynamic, as the line interacted with the current, which changed its
shape and configuration constantly. It also could not remain in place for very
long, because there were people swimming in the area where they had placed it.

Quite by chance, Yane and Hristina made a stunning discovery
about a monument in their own city – the Museum of Modern Art. A wonderful
example of modern architecture, gifted to the city of Skopje by the Polish
government after the 1963 earthquake, it should come as no surprise that one of
the most eminent Polish modern architects, Oskar Hansen, had submitted a
proposal to the competition for the design of the museum. It should also come
as no surprise that his design was not the winning one, given the
unconventional nature of Hansen’s ideas, especially in the 1960s. This fact,
however, was an unknown to anyone in Macedonia at the time, a lost and
forgotten piece of history.

When the artists uncovered this piece of history, they
decided to recreate the museum according to his specifications. Hansen’s plan
was to have the museum underground, with platforms for the art. He felt that
the museum should only be visible when new art is born. The artists created a
hypothetical program for the museum, had it been created according to Hansen’s
design. The work consisted of twelve posters illuminating a museum program
according to Hansen’s idea of a “foldaway museum,” one that had to constantly
be re-engaged with and could never remain stagnant.

 

Hristina and Yane use performance, conceptual and
participatory art to keep history alive and yet recreate it anew, to engage
with their nation and its people, and global art history. It contains an a very
palpable energy and dynamism to it, one that opens the possibilities of new
ideas and further interactions, with the work living a life of its own beyond the
initial exhibition.