Artservis workshops were initiated as the idea of socially engaged art that stepped out of the white box. To be precise, workshop did not completely abandoned art institutions cause they were taking place in museum or gallery space, but they absorbed street public within its frame. All of a sudden you had sacred art rooms filled with crowd that brought old clothes yearning after an art touch.
Nena Skoko, the author of the project, gathered a group of female artist under the name Women with embroidery. Actually what gets lost in translation is the original name ‘Zene s vezom’ where the word ‘s vezom’ on Croatian or Serbian means both ‘with connection’, ‘with relationship’ and ‘with embroidery’. So, dear readers, make your linguistic choice because some things just cannot be translated.
The first edition of Artservis was held in 2008 in Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade, Serbia. It was organized as an open workshop where people from the street were invited to bring their old clothes for artists to make interventions on them. Soon the museum was swarmed with young and old, art-lovers and pensioners who entered an interesting and vivid communication with textile artist and costume designers.
This year workshop took place at Small Gallery, and the theme was triggered by recycled pieces of clothes that I made of old socks. So, the group, with some new members, gathered again: Nena Skoko, Milena Ristic, Lidija Vujovic, Ivana Cemerikic, Ivana Mladen, Elda Stankovic, Natasa Nebrigic, Ankica Dujakovic and me. We knew people would be interested in bringing their old socks, stockings, tights, into gallery, but in a few days we were crowded with patterns and materials that you can’t even imagine.
I already worked with socks, so I thought I could stay on the safe side. But when I saw the limitless fantasies of other girls, I started experimenting with new shapes. Already after day 1 there were shirts done of the most subtle, transparent stockings hanging on the gallery wall, together with colorful patchwork tops. On the first glance nobody could recognize hoses, heels or toes, but led by the theme of the workshop people started looking after cognizable parts. Some of them even found pieces of their favorite socks in more then one clothing product.
Main trigger for this kind of art engagement was finding creativity in everyday life and connecting artist with general public. But, of course, many subversive acts came out of it – recycling of clothes came in perfect moment of crisis and recession, especially in an ex-communist, transitional country. These countries still have lively memories of old times when almost everybody knew how to produce food, liquors, clothes and furniture, basically anything! But then, we all got freed from these habits and gloriously entered consumer societies, happy to forget skills that saved our family budgets and brought people together.
It was remarkable to see how young people suddenly became aware of unnecessary consumption, how they opened themselves to new, completely individualistic fashion and wanted to take part, with ideas or practical sewing, in textile recycling. The concept of anti-brand naturally came out. We designed our own label and sewed it on the outer side of object, something like a statement.
Two weeks of girly entertainment were sweetened by Milos Tomic’s presentation ‘Let somebody stop me’, who gave us a male perspective how to love textiles enriched with memories and other people’s lives.
Remade – Artservis #2 made an international success. After showing at Kaunas Art Biennal Lithuania with the huge interest of both professional and general public, it became locally implemented. Who knows what will happen in future, but we might have a new trend of low technology and high social engagement textile art.
(Ivana Podnar is guest blogger on Personal Cyber Botanica)