NMG@MKC: Arbyte 1.8

NMG@MKC: Arbyte 1.8
MKC Gallery, Youth Center Split, Ulica slobode 28
OPENING: Thursday, December 28th 2023. at 7pm


The ‘artists’ should be ashamed to appear with such demands.
Anonymous comment on the survey question ‘Should the state pay artists?’, 2023.

I would tell you that the Youth Center is an eyesore in the city. (…) It doesn’t look like a home, it doesn’t look like a building, it looks like a prison, confinement. That darkness, that façade, it’s terrifying to see. The best thing would be to tear it down. (…)
Phone call from an anonymous viewer of a show about the Youth Center, Marjan Television, 1996.

After the protest of independent artists for an increase in the pension coefficient held in March 2023, an opinion poll appeared on the ‘most widely read portal in Croatia’ – should the state pay artists? Over 5,000 people participated in the poll, of which a staggering 65% clearly stated – it should not! Messages of support were overshadowed by malicious and offensive comments from the prevailing majority, reflecting the spirit of the times in which artists and cultural workers – the so-called parasites of the state – live and work. On the other hand, in moments of shutting down large factory facilities, support for workers is not lacking, so the absence of solidarity with cultural workers only points to one understanding – art is not work, art is a hobby.

‘Parasitizing’ the space of the Youth Center in Split, members of Arbajt Collective continue to question the relationship between art and labor. However, the Split context sets a different framework for exploration because it is impossible to ignore the role of artistic work in the long-term process of reviving this concrete giant. Although originally conceived as the Home of Socialist Youth, this enormous architectural complex was left to decay until a group of enthusiasts arrived, cleaned the space, and organized various concerts and performances. A suitable space is a prerequisite for the action and work of artists, and the interior of this multipurpose complex is filled with artistic content precisely thanks to artistic work. The Arbyte 1.8 exhibition puts the dialogue of Arbajt Collective’s artistic practice in the center with the historical context of the Youth Center, as well as with the current issues of the independent scene in Split. Using striking objects from the construction site as places of measurable work, we strive to make artistic work visible to highlight the social role of art and artists. Through a hybrid presentation format, we include different media such as photography, video, action, and performance, where the leftover remnants of intervention form a sort of installation. Slogans on the walls signed by the Arbajt Collective are in direct collision with the sound backdrop, interweaving the perception of the wider public about artistic work, as well as the role of the Youth Center in the city of Split in the form of declarative sentences. Finally, with a dose of humor but also irony, we pose the question – how many artists are needed to build the Youth Center? And haven’t they built it themselves?

Tena Starčević

The interdisciplinary collaboration of artists gathered around the Arbajt Kolektiv begins in 2021, and they place the relationship between art and work at the center of their interest to dispel myths about the romanticized view of artistic work characterized by precarious working conditions. The collective consists of Šimun Stankov (performance artist and originator of the idea), Espi Tomičić (playwright, writer), Una Štalcar-Furač (performance artist, choreographer), Branimir Štivić (new media artist), Tena Starčević (art historian, curator) and Ivana Korpar ( producer). Arbajt Kolektiv uses different formats, such as artistic interventions in public spaces, dance performances, exhibitions, and the like, to communicate the problems faced by the art scene in Croatia and beyond.

CURATOR: Tena Starčević
NMG CURATORIAL TEAM: Katarina Duplančić, Natasha Kadin, Vedran Perkov
DESIGN: Nikola Križanac
TRANSLATION: Katarina Duplančić
DONORS: Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Croatia, City of Split
MAVENA SUPPORTED BY: Zaklada Kultura nova