Normalities

The Austrian Cultural Forum New York is pleased to present ‘Normalities’, a show starring artists from the Western Balkan region (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia), Croatia, as well as from Austria and the United States. Artists include Flaka Haliti, Armando Lulaj, Damir Očko, and Irena Lagator Pejović, whose works were featured at the 55th and 56th Venice Biennials in 2013 and 2015, respectively.

Artists on view: CÄCILIA BROWN, NEMANJA CVIJANOVIĆ, DUŠICA DRAŽIĆ, FLAKA HALITI, IBRO HASANOVIĆ, JELENA JUREŠA, JAKOB LENA KNEBL, IRENA LAGATOR PEJOVIĆ, ARMANDO LULAJ, ALBAN MUJA, DAMIR OČKO, ANA PRVAČKI, MARUŠA SAGADIN, SAŠO STANOJKOVIЌ, KERSTIN VON GABAIN

Curated by: MARKO LULIĆ and CHRISTINE MOSER

Exhibition dates: 20 January – 12 April 2016
Opening events:
19 January, 6 – 7 PM | panel discussion
19 January, 7 – 9 PM | opening reception with a live performance by Ana Prvački
20 January, 7:30 PM | Viennese Tschuschenkapelle in concert: Balkan Blues Goes West
Venue: Austrian Cultural Forum New York – 11 East 52nd Street, New York

For philosopher Slavoj Žižek the very name “Balkans” is almost synonymous with “otherness” and deliberately used to distinguish oneself from one’s very neighbor. In the past century, the region was a laboratory of extraordinary political circumstances, and still is by all means a place in constant transition. In recent times Southeastern Europe has gone through a massive transformation in an economical as well as political sense. Migration has made Vienna the fastest growing European capital, the city with the third-largest Serbian population, and home to many emerging artists. The integration of the Western Balkan countries into the European Union is a clear goal, but still an ongoing process. Apart from these political aspects of normalization, the concept of ‘normality’ becomes all the more attractive within various different theoretical frameworks and disciplines, from philosophy and psychology to sociology and, of course, the arts.

Normalities sets out to explore the concept of normality from a number of different angles—focusing on the Balkans, but extending outwards. What does it mean to be an artist almost a quarter of a century after the fall of Yugoslavia in a globalized world? How can identity collectively and individually be preserved? Saranda, for example, is a city in Albania. Saranda is also the given name of the woman portrayed by Kosovo-based artist Alban Muja in his photo series “My Name Their City” (2012),
referencing a trend of the 1970ies and 1980ies when parents named their children after cities, rivers or mountains.

The term ‘normality’ defies any attempt at a concise—let alone exhaustive—definition. Its meaning is in constant flux, changing in the most unpredictable ways, as the Balkan region has over the past century. The works showcased in Normalities go beyond art of a post-conflict society, they range from print, collage and sculpture to photography and video, support the approach of constantly questioning normality. Some artistic positions deal with overcoming the past and create a new reading by shifting historical symbols. Others address the friction between intimate and public, private and political, and the many dimensions in which issues of normality pervade through and guide society. The works in the exhibition range from examinations of materiality, methods of production, architectural design, and artistic production to more personal meditations on gender, sexuality, and individual wellbeing. In addition, they also deal with geopolitics, history, and our interpretations and relationships to current events.

For more details about the exhibition, artists and curators, have a look here.

Image credit: Alban Muja, My Name Their City (Saranda), 2012