Archive for August, 2019|Monthly archive page

Misplaced in Time

In Airports, Signs, Skopje on August 29, 2019 at 6:09 pm

Score #2: Holding the Misplaced Women? Sign, delegated performance by Tanja Ostojić: Misplaced Women? Project (ongoing since 2009)

Performed by Ivana Vaseva

On August 28, 2019 Ivana Vaseva was waiting for the Wizz Air flight Nr. W67740 from Berlin Schönefeld, at Skopje International Airport (Меѓународен аеродром Скопје), from 00:45 am until 2:30 am, while performing the Score #2: Holding the Misplaced Women? Sign. I took this photo of her after collecting my suitcases shortly after 3 am at super crowded Skopje airport. She wrote the following text afterwords:

Misplaced in Time, Score #2: Holding the Misplaced Women? Sign, delegated performance by Tanja Ostojić, at Skopje International Airport, 28.8.2019. Performed by Ivana Vaseva, AKTO. Photo: Tanja Ostojić

There is something quite disturbing in a dialogue, polemics or a unrehearsed choir of wait-ors on airport arrivals when you are the only one holding a sign on a corner of a designated aria with a sentence ‘Misplaced Woman?’ written on it. It seems to be somehow annoying to people on many levels, just like buzzing of one fly after another on a hot summer day while you’ve just dived into a sweet nap. Why is she holding that particular sign? What does she want? Usually wait-ors have the name of the waited one written with a regular pen on a plane piece of paper. Why this one is different? Maybe it is a commercial of some sort? Maybe she is just a show off girl?

There is one child particularly staring at me.

One man starred his eyes out just to see what is written on the sign.

One hint is discovered: There is a guy taking photos of her while she is holding the sign.

Misplaced in Time, Score #2: Holding the Misplaced Women? Sign, delegated performance by Tanja Ostojić, at Skopje International Airport, 28.8.2019. Performed by Ivana Vaseva, AKTO. Photo: Filip Jovanovski

It is strange to me as well.  I’m also not accustomed of doing this, holding a sign on an airport arrival platform. People are staring and reading, puzzled. I try to enter into this situation and to ponder on it. Ah, I just recall a festival I used to work for, a film festival, where someone had an idea that the wait-ors will wait for the guest with a sign that had one of famous film quotes on it: “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse”, “There’s no place like home.” or “I’ll be back.”

On another festival the waiting sign was the guests’ face made as a printed paper mask that was worn by the wait-or.

So, if the very waiting on an airport, carrying a sign that says ‘Misplaced Woman?’ was a film, what would this film be about? It could be about an itinerant worker in culture, freelancer as a medieval mercenary as Hito Steyerl compares, jumping from one gig to another or playing several gigs simultaneously… In this precarious tormented body of hers, she doesn’t succeed to explain her situation, although she persistently tries, so she can prove the substandard conditions in which she lives and works. She lives in a corrupted capitalist pool with little chances that the water can be depolluted and clean. She is constantly bitten by sharks, not that they have ethics of any sort, those jealous and untalented swimmers… And in this very moment, she thinks of something. 

I think that this could be the film scenario, but I’m not sure. 

What we seem to have at stake here are two layers of awkwardness that share the same airport arrival platform. 

So, we’ve established the role of the wait-or, that is the one displaced from her original position of festival curator on one side, and the guest, the waited one, that seems to be displaced by plane to a different country on the other. The wait-or is physically misplaced from her position on two levels. She is voluntarily misplaced from the festival that she is co-organising – AKTO Festival for contemporary arts in Bitola, because she is in Skopje right now, doing something that curators usually don’t do. But, on another level, she feels forcefully displaced from the position of a curator in the general context because she wants things to be professionally done, while professionally seems to be misplaced from Macedonia. 

The waited one seems though not to be misplaced any more, thank all gods.  

The reality of this stream of thoughts is that we are currently organising the 14th edition of AKTO that is one of rare festivals for contemporary art in this country with such a long continuity, done with a lot of enthusiasm and dedication, and persistently marginalised. And this is because in this country only state or local institutions are considered able to produce culture, although culture is the last thing that is actually considered important. The crucial thing is that the society under construction still lays on the same grounds: corruption and fake ethics. 

In the spirit of Brechtian aphorism „Grab first, then ethics!“, we’ve opened the topic of large appetites of the corrupted spirits and the massive existential problems of the people. This suffocating environment forces you to take giant steps and to misplace yourself. 

The first step is a symbolic displacement. On an airport, while waiting and while examining oneself, why do you wait. This was triggered and enabled by Tanja Ostojić’s delegated performance “Score #2: Holding the Misplaced Women? Sign“. Waiting, thinking, reflecting and making plans for further actions. 

Misplaced in Time, Score #2: Holding the Misplaced Women? Sign, delegated performance by Tanja Ostojić, at Skopje International Airport, 28.8.2019. Performed by Ivana Vaseva, AKTO. Photo: Tanja Ostojić

So, while I was waiting for Tanja, and among all those wait-ors at the crowded Skopje airport as if it was an exclusive after midnight disco opening party, I thought of the question – Are we misplaced from the position that we should’ve taken as hardworking people?

Maybe the Wizzair flight that was supposed to land at 00:45am, and that turned into 02:25am flight misplaced the time, and it might be a time to somehow try to turn things around?

All of us, wait-ors.

Ivana Vaseva is curator and researcher in the field of contemporary visual arts, viewed from an interdisciplinary perspective. She initiates, stimulates and produces collaborative and engaging programs and researches with an intention to confront places of desire, contest established relationships and reclaim the meaning of public, by producing art and social living. She is program director of “Faculty of things that can’t be learned (FR~U)”, an organisation based in North Macedonia.

Since 2006 FR~U is producing AKTO Festival for contemporary arts in Bitola, that become resilient, strong and contextual platform promoting and producing interdisciplinary critical programs and concepts. It is a festival which tries to open not only topics relevant for the current socio-political and hence artistic reality, but also to stimulate production formats that stir up the status quo. The festival happens each year in August in Bitola and is a parallel to events produced by local municipalities and cultural institutions, with its subverting and  emancipatory mission. In 2016 and 2017, due to burning local issues and needs, AKTO re-branded into POP UP AKTO, a temporary concept of producing the festival in several other cities in Macedonia (Skopje, Tetovo, Shtip and Kochani)

Written by: Ivana Vaseva

Edited and first published by: Tanja Ostojić at the Misplaced Women? blog (August 2019).

Photos: Tanja Ostojić and Filip Jovanovski
Copyright: Tanja Ostojić and AKTO festival


Please visit as well other contributions and posts from Airports. 

Please visit as well other contributions and posts from Signs.

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