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Art Challenge – Nataša Berk

23 July 2021 Kindly invited to a performative event with Nataša Berk on Friday 23 July at 7pm in Alkatraz Gallery. The event is a part of the program Art Challenge conceptualised within KUD Mreža Arts and Culture Association and consists of the art residency in Studio Asylum and an artistic intervention in public space of ACC Metelkova mesto as well.

Nataša Berk was selected for the project Art Challenge, intended for artists living outside of Ljubljana. In addition to the realisation of external intervention in the space of AKC Metelkova mesto, the tender also included the implementation of an art project in the Alkatraz Gallery.

During her one-month stay in Studio Asylum, the artist wanted to get to know the dynamics of micro environments of Metelkova, with the purpose of exploring the idea of Joseph Beuys' social sculpture (Soziale Plastik). Through the artwork, the artist spoke about society as a work of art, which is being built by each creative, political and aware individual engagement, from which also his claim that every human is an artist originates. According to Beuys, with the help of social sculpture, aesthetics was supposed to be transferred to a collective, imaginative space, where we can re-articulate the ways of working in accordance with our creative potentials, which we were supposed to carry, and with which art again becomes an instrument of power in our society and politics. Such an extended definition exceeds the notion of art that is tied to a particular medium, material or realised visual effect.

In order to transcend the outdated notion of art tied to a particular medium or material, on the 100th anniversary of Beuys' birth, the artist decided not to invite audience to the Alkatraz Gallery for an event that features another exhibition based on the materiality of artefacts through a curatorial concept, but rather to devise the structure of her project intangibly – as an art event in the form of a performance.

She completely altered the look of the gallery and added a touch of antiquity and exclusivity with a table with a table setting. She herself took on a role of a domestic helper, who prepared the space for a feast and served everyone who was willing to risk their presence in the subsequently closed space. When the gallery doors closed, those who remained inside sat down at a long table. Lovers or contemporary art, casual visitors, tourists were invited to sit down next to someone they had not known and try to make contact with them. Meanwhile, the artist, dressed in the uniform of a domestic helper, began to serve food.

The creation of a social sculpture, shaped by all participants, began with a metaphor that draws attention to the powerlessness of artists in contemporary Slovene society. The evening was marked with the formation of contacts, which would not happen without the framework of the situation in the gallery. The event began as a happening with the artist's performance, which was based on her movements and directing people in the space, and eventually it grew into an intangible group project. This is also the reason why the invitation to the performance was composed as a generic appeal to an untitled event, as it was only with the visit that the exhibition was formed, and it was authored by all the participants.

As part of her artistic residency in Studio Asylum, Nataša Berk also performed the graffiti Beuys, Beuys, Beuys (Wall of fame, AKC Metelkova mesto), which plays with the popular hit from 1987, Boys (Summertime love), of an Italian singer Sabrina, and roguishly draws attention to the fact that the notion of graffiti is associated predominantly with men. The author understands her work, even if it is curatorial, as an artistic engagement, which is why she also implemented an exhibition of paintings by Irena Orel during her visit. The part referring to Urban Fine Art Projects (Gesamtkunstwerk Metelkova) is still being developed, but it will be connected to the planting of a tree, since it refers to the project 7000 Oaks by Joseph Beuys, and will be presented in the future.

Participating artists in the exhibition:

Nataša Berk
Cristina Miran
Maja Chieng Frisenberg Pedersen
Andrej Savski
Camilla Chieng Frisenberg Pedersen
Nataša Serec
Anka Kočevar
Tili Kojič
Irena Orel
Petra Varl
Žiga Palčar
Mladen Stropnik
Lina Rica
Nataša Skušek
Adrijan Praznik
Ana Grobler
Sebastian Krawczyk

Photography: Nada Žgank.

The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and City Council Ljubljana - Department for culture.

video Beuys, Beuys, Beuys by Nataša Berk, 2021