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What can you do in Serbia when you are a young artist?

As a young artist, there is not much you can do in Serbia. You can work hard and hope that one day you will be noticed by a curator, one among the few renowned gallerists, or even rarer rich collectors. On the other hand, you may try your luck somewhere far away in the big world, and try to invest your talent and knowledge in the best possible way. 

The unwritten rule says that the young are always expected to accomplish more than what the elderly didn't do or what they did wrong. Having in mind the overall situation and circumstances in which we live, we can conclude that no matter what the young do, they are doing fine, because being a young artists in Serbia is a success by itself. The youngest generation of artists is as a rule left on its own. After school and Art Academy, artists become a part of a completely disorganized system governed by no rules, where only the most persistent ones survive.  And, while big exhibitions were organized before, aiming to present the most recent works of young artists, today we barely have a few initiatives which focus on the work of local young artists.

Somebody will perhaps rightly ask what the purpose of all this is: why insist on art when we are facing a lot of problems which, in their complexity and social relevance, go by far beyond all that art can offer? One answer might be simply because we have chosen to do so, because we know that art surpasses all banality, because it has the power to generate ideas that change things at their core. It is art that criticizes, that uses its subtle mechanisms to help us run away from the harsh reality for at least a short while, or to help us face it bravely.    

The competition, the prize and the activities of Nis Art Foundation are those rare initiatives which draw public attention to the work of young artists in Serbia. In spite of the unquestionable quality of national artists who should most certainly be guided by professionals, when we talk about the scene and the attitude of the society towards it, we can openly say that we haven’t succeeded in turning art into an interesting and profitable activity. Art and artists are still on the fringes of social events because they are too normal and uninteresting a part of the population in the midst of the overall decline in standards, the collapse in moral values and the overwhelming effect of yellow press on the entire society. Despite the fact that they create works with the power to change the perception of millions of people, their voice remains unheard in the vast sea of trivialities and information of the media society in which we live. What young artists need is the possibility to freely create and to have their voice heard by those who want to listen and follow their work.

The generation of artists presented in this exhibition clearly shows that they can tackle different aspects of our reality and give their comment on it. New tendencies, the use of new technologies, an active and critical attitude towards society, and new realities can be seen in many works. An entire range of young artists coming from the newly established art academies has very successfully and actively joined the activities in the scene. This fresh energy and strength is proving to be a necessary factor for the revival of the scene which is becoming more and more aware of the need for change, for faster and more significant connections with Europe and the world. At the moment in which art is struggling under the burden of marketing strategies and exaggerated commercialization, it is encouraging to know that there is still someone to give young artists a chance and to believe in the new ideas they bring. The perception and articulation of the world around us in the works of artists points at the process of constant questioning of the art’s position within a social system which is so flawed and inconsequential. .

The work of Nis Art Foundation is one of the better examples of investment in the future and faith in young and talented artists. Sponsored awards offered by the Foundation are above all a stimulus and encouragement to all at the start of their career. As there is practically no market for works of modern art, and especially for those of young artists, the prize of Nis Art Foundation represents an important moment in their professional growth. Already boasting a great experience, made possible through years of work, this exhibition has become a new biennial of the young, an incubator of new ideas and strivings, a central point around which a new generation of artists will gather.

Saša Janjić

Catalog Young 2015

Šta sve možeš u Srbiji kada si mlad umetnik?

Kada si mlad umetnik u Srbiji malo toga možeš da uradiš. Možeš vredno da radiš i da se nadaš da će te jednog dana otkriti neki kustos, neko iz redova malobrojnih poznatih galerista ili još malobrojnijih bogatih kolekcionara.  Sa druge strane  možeš da okušaš svoju sreću negde daleko u svetu i pokušaš da svoj talenat i znanje primeniš na najbolji mogući način.

Po nekom nepisanom pravilu od mladih se uvek očekuje nešto što stariji ili nisu uspeli da urade ili su uradili pogrešno. Kada imamo u vidu celokupnu društvenu situaciju i okolnostima u kojima funkcionišemo, dolazimo da zaključka da ma šta uradili dobro su prošli, jer biti mlad umetnik u Srbiji je samo po sebi uspeh. Najmlađa generacija umetnika je po pravilu uvek prepuštena sama sebi. Posle školovanja i Akademije umetnici ulaze u jedan krajnje nesređen sistem u kome nema pravila i gde samo najuporniji opstaju. I dok su ranije postojale velike izložbe koje su imale za cilj da prikažu recentnu produkciju mladih umetnika, danas imamo svega nekoliko inicijativa koje u fokus svog interesovanja stavljaju delatnost domaćih mladih umetnika.

Neko će se možda sa pravom zapitati čemu sve to, zašto insistirati na umetnosti kada smo suočeni sa mnogobrojnim problemima koji svojom kompleksnošću i socijalnim karakterom nadaleko prevazilaze sve što umetnost može da ponudi? Jedan od odgovora bi mogao da bude prosto jer smo tako izabrali, jer znamo da umetnost prevazilazi sve banalnosti, jer umetnost ima moć generisanja ideja koje menjaju stvari iz korena. Ona je ta koja kritikuje, koja svojim suptilnim mehanizmima daje mogućnost da makar na kratko pobegnemo od surove realnosti, ili se pak hrabro suočimo sa njom.

Konkurs, nagrada i delovanje Niš Art Fonadcije je jedna od tih retkih inicijativa koja skreće pažnju javnosti na rad mladih umetnika u Srbiji. I pored nesumljivog kvaliteta domaćih umetnika kojima sasvim sigurno treba usmeravanje i vođenje od strane umetničkih profesionalaca, kada govorimo o sceni i odnosu društva naspram nje, možemo slobodno reći da nismo uspeli da umetnost učinimo zanimljivom i profitabilnom delatnošću. Umetnost i umetnici su još uvek na margini društvenih dešavanja jer su usled opšteg pada standarda, sunovrata vrednosti i tabloidizacije čitavog društva jednostavno isuviše normalan i nezanimljiv deo populacije. I pored činjenice da dela koja stvaraju poseduju moć da promene percepciju miliona ljudi, njihov glas ostaje nem u moru beznačajnih trivijalnosti i informacija medijskog društva u kome živimo. Ono što mladim umetnicima treba je mogućnost da nesmetano stvaraju i da znaju da postoji neko ko ih sluša i ko prati njihov rad.

Generacija umetnika koji su predstavljeni ovom izložbom jasno pokazuje da mogu da se uhvate u koštac sa različitim aspektima naše stvarnosti i da daju svoj komentar. Nove tendencije, upotreba novih tehnologija i aktivan i kritički odnos naspram društva i nove realnosti vidljivi su u mnogim radovima. Čitava plejada mladih umetnika izašla iz novootvorenih umetničkih akademija veoma se uspešno i aktivno uključila u dešavanja na sceni. Ta nova energija i snaga pokazuje se kao neophodan faktor u revitalizuaciji scene koja u sve većoj meri postaje svesna neophodnosti promena, bržeg i značajnijeg povezivanja sa Evropom i svetom. U trenutku kada se umetnost guši pod teretom marketinških strategija i preterane komercijalizacije, ohrabruje to što se još uvek  daje šansa mladim umetnicima i veruje novim idejama koje oni donose. Percepcija i artikulacija sveta oko nas u radovima mladih umetnika ukazuje na proces konstantnog preispitivanja pozicija umetnosti unutar društvenog sistema prepunog mana i nedoslednosti.

Delovanje Niš Art Fondacije je jedan od boljih primera ulaganja u budućnost i vere u mlade i talentovane umetnike. Otkupne nagrade koje ova fondacija dodeljuje pre svega su podstrek i ohrabrenje svima koji su na početku svoje profesionalne karijere. Kako tržište za dela savremene umetnosti skoro da i ne postoji, a pogotovu za stvaralaštvo mlađih umetnika, nagrada Niš art Fondacije predstavlja važan momenat u njihovom profesionalnom sarevanju. Sa već ozbiljim iskustvom i godinama rada ove izložbe mogu da postanu neko novo bijenale mladih, inkubator novih ideja i stremljenja, stožerna tačka oko koje će se okupiti nova generacija umetnika.

Saša Janjić

Katalog Mladi 2015