Reflecting on the Current Urban Festival – festival framework and its evasions

An attempt at analysing artistic actions produced within the spacio-temporal framework of the 11th UrbanFestival finds itself stuck in the very beginning, at the assumption of a framework whose palimpsestic cross-section of the Zagreb “public space” should be reconstructable using the guidelines indicated in the festival programme’s library. The festival framework’s evasion of being an analytical premise does not refer just to the impossibility of reconstructing the ephemeral and pluriperspective experience of the public, that is, the artistic actions themselves, nor to the questioning of the potential and/or achieved participativeness. Other than merely thinning the boundaries of the festival and everyday experience, the evasion is also caused by a moment in which the organisation of the festival framework becomes its execution, and the questions of authorship, as well as the contrast between curator and artist become subordinate to the “successfulness” of the execution. The measure of successfulness then becomes the subtlety of balancing on an impossible border between radical political activism and the fulfilment of project obligations towards state and city, financial centres of power on whom the festival is dependant, and, hence, the attempt to regulate the fragile semantic relationship between signifier and the signified is done according to preset, subversive effects of the organisational execution with the goal of “masking” the radicalism of the dispatched critique.

Bojan Mucko

BOJAN MUCKO (1983, CRO), studies philosophy, and ethnology and cultural anthropology at the Philosophy Faculty in Zagreb. For the last few years he has been engaged with urban-anthropological issues, reviewing the disciplinary boundaries of cultural anthropology through interdisciplinary projects with civil society organizations, designers, architects and contemporary artists. He has worked with Design studio Kancelarija [Office] and Udruga za interdisciplinarana i interkulturalna istraživanja (UIII) [the Association for Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Research] on designing bulletin boards, in cooperation with a local committee in the district of Maksimir and a workshop of architectural interventions in the Special Hospital for Children with Neuro-Developmental and Motor Disorders (Goljak) organized by the organisation Beautiful Hospital and the youth section of the Architects’ Association (DAZ). Occasionally he writes for the architectural magazine Oris, and his works have been published in Zarez and the monthly magazine of the Association of Croatian Architects, Man and Space. He is the current leader of the project for urban culture – ReS uRBANAE – under the auspices of the Association for Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Research (UIIII), which focuses on urban-anthropological research on the phenomenon of massive closures and the decay of city and private business spaces, and, thematically, of the entire urban axes in the wider centre of Zagreb.