In 2014, I publicly requested from the organizers of the T-HT Award to take into consideration the financial incapacities of a large number of artists in Croatia, especially those living farther away from Zagreb and to cover the necessary costs of their participation in the competition, which would give these artists, at least to some extent, the same starting point as other artists. I resent my request in 2015, offering a proposal of how to gather funds from internal reserves. I suggested the elimination the so-called awards for the invited artists, a reduction in the number of foreign jury members, and even a reduction in the award sums. The objective of this was to raise the standards in the attitudes towards artists, which at the same time means to raise the standards in culture in general – which the MSU, as the “umbrella” art institution in Croatia, should do in the first place.
Since my request was not granted, I publicly renounced my right to participate in this competition.
I received in-principle support for my effort from many artists; however, only few decided to publicly support this initiative by renouncing their own rights to participate in the competition. If they had done so, this might have exerted more pressure on the organizers.
A statement published on Facebook, which I performatively read on the Croatian Radio, resulted from the analysis of this situation:
Fear on the road to art, fear of risk, fear of expression, fear of criticism, fear of ending in a curator’s bad book, fear of not being invited, fear of not being understood, fear of society, fear of the Museum, fear of the Supreme Court of Art, fear of failure, fear of aging (in artistic terms), fear of death (of the artist), fear of oblivion, fear of starvation…
These are some of the fears standing as an obstacle to artists in their free creation of ideas – ideas aimed at breaking through the historical wall and promoting values in art, society and the world.
The Museum is the institution whose primary task is to eliminate such fears and provide support and sanctuary to artists, and not to promote institutional generation and maintenance of fear that serves as a filter in its defensive wall, which, in the end, eliminates art itself and by this, it eliminates the very need for the existence of Museum of Contemporary Art.
If you are reading this text at the HT Awards exhibition, it means that the Museum gathered strength to publicly face the artistic criticism and that there is still hope that the wall standing as the obstacle between the institution and art (life) might be brought down.
Of course, there is also the possibility that you will not be reading this text, which accompanies my application to the competition. Perhaps my work will not meet the jury’s criteria and therefore will be part of the exhibition, and perhaps the organizers will not want the public to read this text within the walls of the Museum.
Zagreb, 31 December 2016