Conversation with the visual artist Klelija Zivkovic: Deep interest in revival

Photography: Aleksandra Kostadinovska

Among the winners of the award for young visual artist "Today", organized by the "Faculty of Things Not Learned" (FRU), is Klelija Zivkovic, who presented it to the international committee his work "Fear of Love".

Transdisciplinary visual artist Klelija Zivkovic (1989, Skopje) is educated in several design disciplines, her work represents a theoretical, material and experiential insight into the boundaries, physical, psychological, emotional or spiritual barriers we create to help us realize ourselves as beings .

With the work "Fear of Love" she explores the idea of ​​an organ that acts as a border that connects and separates us through space, but also through time and generations, joining in our bodies what is no longer with what is yet to be.

The commission for awarding the "Denes" prize had a high opinion of the organic operation of your work "Fear of Love", with which you presented yourself at the exhibition. What is meant by organic work and with what idea did you create the work?

– Through this work, I tried to imagine a physical manifestation of the concept of a personal border – a mental, physical or spiritual barrier that we create in order to know ourselves, but also to allow us contact with our environment. In addition to its physical form, I also wanted to imagine how such a border would function if it were similar to an organ that connects us with the environment through space, but also through time and generations. I envisioned that boundary as an umbilical cord-like organ through which our aliveness, which is the innate ability of all living organisms, radiates through the entire being, the collective, and the entire ecosystem.

But in this work I wanted to emphasize the cruelty, which we often disguise as love and care, and which, running through our individual relationships and our relationship to the collective and the ecosystem to which we belong, hinders our path to revival. The name of this work refers to my fear of such love, which is, in fact, cruelty, but also to the fear that feeds that cruelty, the fear of a love that breaks free and exists despite the violence of the oppressive systems that try to destroy it.

I suppose that "organic work" refers to exactly this process of starting from my personal position, then further building the work through a relationship with the context.

Klelija Zivkovic with a presentation of her work before the international commission / Photo: FRU

Your works bring together the physical and the spiritual, the inner emotion and the expression of the body. In what process do you create the works?

– The work process always interweaves my personal experiences and experiences with what is happening in the world around me. I try to offer my subjectivity as a narrative through which I can talk about concepts and ideas that are much more important and bigger than my individual perspective, but which offers the possibility of immediacy and connection with the audience, which are essential to me.

Furthermore, I believe that our bodies have access to a truth that we cannot always tap into or articulate rationally. I try to develop my work through body language, which is caring and safe for my being, but also for everyone who will interact with what I have presented publicly.

The work "Fear of Love" is a physical manifestation of the concept of personal boundaries / Photography: Diana Dimitrievska and Darko Stepić

All this is supported by a strong theoretical basis. What issues preoccupy you personally?

– I still follow my deep interest and strong call to revival, which was born in a very personal place, but grew through the books of Haraway, Solnit, Le Guin and others. I don't mean aliveness in the physiological sense, but aliveness as the life force that, when available to us, we can experience as warmth, the most powerful and tender thread that runs through the entire living world.

Following in the footsteps that Audrey Lorde offered us in The Uses of the Erotic, I am interested in how our individual aliveness is intertwined with that of the world, how it can be released and channeled into nourishing all the ways we care for one another. I see all this through the prism of my personal identity and my education as a designer.

Regarding the award-winning work "Fear of Love", what answer would be appropriate to the question you ask with the work: What kind of worlds do we weave and where do we pull the threads from?

– To a large extent this work addresses the feminine gender as we understand it in the present, and women as the weavers of umbilical cords of our world. I wanted to emphasize our responsibility as daughters, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, friends in transmitting that cruelty and violence of oppressive systems in our generations, through our bodies and our love, which we allow to be transformed by fear into cruelty.

In this installation there is also a soundscape, which I worked on together with my dear collaborator Diana Dimitrievska (DIAH). It is made up of voices and sounds that intertwine and build on each other, interrupt and support each other, to finally join in a cry of mourning, which in this work I wanted to offer as a break in that transgenerational cruelty.

The work "Fear of Love" in the setting of Cifte Hamam

The "Today" award will enable you to prepare a future independent exhibition in Skopje. What plans do you have in that direction?

- I am currently in a short period of creative emptiness, which is necessary so that I can enter the next process refreshed and ready for a new production. My desire for the next exhibition is to build a world that is rich in textures, juicy, sticky and full of life, like a fertile soil or a dense forest. To quote Robyn Wahl Kimmerer: "I want to dance for the renewal of the world."

(The interview was published in "Cultural Press" number 197, in the printed edition of the newspaper "Sloboden Pechat" on 23-24.9.2023)

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