You are cordially invited to the performance and the exhibition opening, at 9 pm, at the Alkatraz Gallery
Curator: Jadranka Ljubičič
Mirjana Batinić is a multimedia artist currently completing her postgraduate studies of Video and New Media at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana. She graduated in 2003 from the Art Academy at the University in Split. She has been living, successfully creating and co-operating with cultural institutions in Slovenia for several years. In this period she has also achieved international recognition. In the recent years she has exhibited in Slovenia more frequently than in Croatia, and her exhibitions have always been supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia as well as the Cultural Department of the Municipality of Ljubljana. She is regarded as a domestic artist, which is evident from Miha Colner’s article for Radio Student where he labels her a “domestic artist”¹. Her video works are integrated in the DIVA collection – a digital archive of the Slovenian Video at the Center for Contemporary Arts SCCA – Ljubljana.
In her solo exhibition entitled No-One’s Bride, the author invites us to the backstage of her story. In it, the spectator can instantly spot an active artist that participates in many projects, exhibits in many galleries and does well at art venues. But if the spectator observes it long enough, the seemingly perfect surface of the story will reveal the scratches, extending to the origin, all the way to her passport. The citizenship, regardless of other elements, determining person’s identity, is of crucial importance for the individual’s position in today’s world.
A foreigner with no residence permit (visa) in the European Union, therefore, also in Slovenia – having no health insurance/social security, temporary residence and rights. With no future. In Slovenia, a foreign citizen with no residence permit cannot stay in the country longer than 3 months. A citizen of a citizenship outside the territory of the European Union must even exit the country for the period of 6 months, before he or she is allowed to return. The division to the European Union and other Europe outside the Schengen territory therefore intensifies differences among people. Another thing that takes us by surprise is the information that a foreigner holding no temporary residence permit, during the time of the procedure for its acquisition, is not allowed to host friends from his or her country for longer than three days, unless the lessor personally explains the case to the relevant authority at the nearest police station. Artists, of course, are no exception. Foreign artists (outside the Schengen territory) – regardless of their activity and importance – need a residence permit for their life in Slovenia, which consequently means numerous bureaucratic complications. Mirjana Batinić has lost the right for residence permit, because she has no longer a student status, because she is currently not employed, or does not bear the status of being self-employed in culture, or because she is not married to a Slovenian citizen. Since she had lost her residence permit she only had 15 days to settle the matter. After the deadline of fifteen days, she is no longer permitted to stay in Slovenia.
The whole process is a fight, a struggle for residence permit: should the person fail to fulfil the conditions, the person is not granted the permit, and once the person has got it, he or she can easily lose it again. After the prescribed fifteen days to settle the matter are over the person is no longer permitted to stay in Slovenia. But he or she may submit a request for the prolongation of the dead line. While the application for residence permit is being processed, the applicant receives a confirmation stating that the person is not permitted to cross the country’s border. More concretely, this means that Mirjana Batinić – until she receives the provision, is not allowed to leave the country for Berlin for the preparations of her solo exhibition there in six months. Due to slow-working mills of bureaucracy it may well happen that she will not be able to attend its opening. When she was last waiting for her residence permit, the procedure extended over the period of several moths, and for this reason she was forced to turn down the invitation to an expert seminar in Prague and also refuse to visit the festival of video art Videomedeja in Novi Sad, where her art work was nominated for a prize. Had she received the prize, she wouldn’t have been able to receive it in person. Her work is made impossible, so no wonder that she has used the same methods she uses in her artistic practice, to reveal her frustration.
In her project Looking for a Husband with EU Passport² in 2005 Tanja Ostojić spoke of women in society being pushed away, she was critically dealing with the politics of the former Yugoslavia, she described the contradictions between isolation, poverty and elitism of the European Union with an „on-line advertisement“, in which she exposed her naked body, with her hair shaved off, putting it on display as a piece of meat and “on sale” for a European passport. The author has employed her body as a tool to question and criticize the political conditions. In line with the content Mirjana Batinić responses to the position she has found herself in; the response is the artwork that is very different from her artistic practice until now. In it, she has primarily dealt with intimate and emotional states. Now she cannot do this here any more, because as a citizen of Croatia she needs a residence permit to stay on the territory of the European Union.
The artist has been frantically looking for a way to obtain the status of a self-employed in culture in Slovenia. The above status would entitle her to a residence permit. The status lasts for 3 years and afterwards the person is eligible for permanent residence permit. One of the temporary solutions is a student status that is, however, leaving the question of residence as an adult and an independent person unsolved.
A full-time employment is another option that would, from the artist - with regards to her attained education and her profession - take most of the time for creation away. The datum that the minimal net salary in the Republic of Slovenia amounts to Euro 572.27³, and for a citizen from the Third world (where the countries outside the EU – pejoratively - belong) to Euro 250, as she has been explained at the administrative unit, is scary.
Mirjana Batinić could actually get married. A marriage to a citizen of the Republic of Slovenia would offer her the same benefits with less bureaucratic complications. In her artwork stemming from the above stated facts, the author discloses her position while asking the question what to do to be able to live freely. In her performance and video she appears as a bride and stresses the fact that it is easier to obtain a residence permit through marriage than with one’s artistic activity, achievements and contribution. The possibilities to create within the European Union are – for the artists that are not EU citizens – very limited, as stressed in her video.
The author would like to know why we always have to be in slavery to various systems and why traditional roles of individuals are still exposed. Marriage opposes her principles and “Why if I would rather than to a man marry a gallery?”, with regards to the fact that she is an artist and it is galleries that give her daily bread, and that this is all that she is interested in?
There is another question that poses itself to the spectators quite automatically: „What if Mirjana is not granted a status of a self-employed individual in the field of culture? Will she be forced to choose between marriage and return to Croatia? What is, therefore, the basis of the democratic, liberal ideals of life in accordance with one’s own beliefs that the constitution of the European Union and the state of Slovenia are based on? Why is it necessary to choose?” The author says that in “this bureaucratic circus where she is constantly struggling for her life in Ljubljana, she as a result of it experiences a feeling of guilt, as if she had to give up her ‚Split‘ identity.“ The decision about identity on the basis of bureaucratic procedures splits her and triggers inner conflicts in her, as her home is still in Split, and not in Ljubljana.
Ana Grobler and Sebastian Krawczyk
Sebastian Krawczyk is a volunteer at the European Voluntary Service project. The execution of this project is cofinanced by the European Commission. The content of the project is at sole liability of the author and by no means it represents the stands of the European Commision.
Mirjana Batinić (1977) is a multimedia artist, born in Split. She is currently finishing her postgraduate studies of Video and new media at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana. In 2008/2009 she continued her postgraduate study as a researcher also at the University in Klagenfurt in Austria, at the Media and Communications department. She graduated in 2003 at the Academy of Fine Art at the Split University. She is engaged in art video, new media, graphic design, drawing, photography as well as writing. She has exhibited at thirteen solo and over fifty group exhibitions and video and electronic art festivals (Ars Electronica / ALUO; Videomedeja; Biennial of Young Artists of Europe and the Mediterranean 2005 - Naples and 2008 - Bari...; she has exhibited at the following Ljubljana art venues: Kapelica Gallery, Alkatraz Gallery, Škuc Gallery, The City Gallery of Ljubljana, Bežigrad Gallery, Viba studio; as well as at the Art Gallery in Maribor). Her artwork entitled Peace (2006) is part of the permanent installation of Casoria International Contemporary Art Museum in Naples. Her video works are mentioned in the DIVA collection - digital archive of the Slovenian video of the Center for Contemporary Arts SCCA – Ljubljana and she is also a member of the Laboratory for digital media team – Ljudmila. She also actively co-operates with the Alkatraz Gallery on the Artyčok.tv: open archive project.
1. “The project displayed in the Alkatraz Gallery is a joint project of two young domestic authors - Mirjana Batinić and Robertina Šebjanič entitled 'Refractions of Whiteness' on a discourse into artistically-formal as well as atmospheric dimensions of video art," is a quotation from Miha Colner’s article. Source: Miha COLNER, "Incarnation of New Video Art: Igor Grubić / Mirjana Batinić & Robertina Šebjanič", Radio Študent, 28th April 2010, na: http://www.radiostudent.si/article.php?sid=23404, viewed in June 2010.
2. Zoran ERIĆ, Personal space–public body, on: http://artefact.mi2.hr/_a01/lang_en/art_ostojic_en.htm, viewed in March 2011.
3. Erika REPOVŽ, Slovenia with Euro 572 of minimal salary in the golden middle of EU, Delo, 4th March 2011, on: http://www.delo.si/clanek/142761, viewed in March 2011.
4. Marriage is, of course, understood only as a marriage of a heterosexual couple. Gays and lesbians cannot marry here, they can only register their relationship, and the registration does not give any rights or permits for residence to foreigners. A marrage between a resident of Slovenia and a foreigner inevitably also means that the latter one follows one’s spouse wherever the one goes. Should the spouse move into another country, one can remain in the state of the spouse only one month without the spouse’s presence. A marriage to a Slovenian citizen therefore means that the person has to remain at the address of his or her spouse, which blocks the possibility of independent travelling, participation at artistic residences, hence the performance of one’s profession.
Photos of the opening: Sunčan P. Stone