In 2020 when we started the Voids initiative our main goal was to highlight the issues of mass tourism; enrich the cultural offer in the city during winter days; allow artists and civil society organizations (including us) to have a space for work, connect, co-create and learn. Voids in Split were an experiment during which we tested the concept of our future creative hub, at the level of the city. We have used this experiment not only to test the concept but also to build our community.
In July 2021 we opened our space in Split that now consists of the same elements tested during the Voids: open studio, workspace, gallery, events space...and we continue to apply the same scheme of “adopting the space” giving everyone the opportunity to propose activities through an open call once a year.
The feedbacks on the Voids initiative from the community, artists and the general public, motivate us to continue and try to replicate this model in other cities. This is why in 2022 we selected Dubrovnik as one of the cities with the highest number of tourists in Croatia having the same issues of trying to combine tourism and local life that almost entirely faded from the historical center. By teaming up with Art radionica Lazareti, we expect to achieve bigger impact in the local community and allow everyone to shape the city they want to live in, at least during the winter.
At the same time, to conclude the initiative in Split, we wish to valorize the selected artistic research by inviting several artists who were involved in the project in 2020 and 2021, got acquainted with the city and developed ideas, to create interventions. The invited artists are: Ledia Kostandini (Albania), Driton Selmani (Kosovo), Tin Dožić (Croatia), Lana Stojićević (Croatia) and Verica Kovacevska (North Macedonia, who actually couldn’t participate in 2021 due to COVID-19). Duration of each individual intervention will be at least five days in the period between 28th of February and 3rd of April and the works will be shown mainly in the public spaces in the city. These site-specific installations in and around the center, will showcase innovative readings of the city. The aim is to re-imagine the public space of Split and open it as a space for artistic expression and dialogue. Art in the form of installations can act as medium to engage citizens into rethinking their environment and imagining what it can be in relation to its past and its future.
In addition to the interventions, we use the same model as in previous editions in Split to address the same challenges that Dubrovnik is also facing as the most visited touristic destination in Croatia. During two weeks (from 5th to 20th of March), the invited artists from Croatia and the region, will use several spaces (whose usual function is related to tourism), as their open studios. The result of their residency within the space is not predefined, but the artists are free to focus on the process of creation itself, and therefore not only the spatial but temporal aspect of the void. Artists can suggest shorter or longer-term interventions, innovative ways of communication with the audience or performative actions. The project therefore focuses on performativity, with the ultimate goal of acquiring a sense of ownership. This refers to the ownership of our memories and the ownership of urban space and local heritage. The public is invited to visit their studios during their stay and get a better understanding of their artistic practice but also the process of artistic creation and research.
Through the public call and the Adopt the Space scheme, the citizens and civil society organizations were included in the participatory process and got the opportunity to propose their own activities in the selected spaces during two weeks. In this way, touristic spaces become community spaces, shaped by the people themselves, in the quest of re-appropriation of the historical core and bringing back the sense of community.
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