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Berlin underground to be focus of visual arts residency

Berlin underground to be focus of visual arts residency

Artist and spatial designer Biljana Popovic will spend a year in Berlin exploring the relationship between art, architecture and politics as the 2018/2019 recipient of Creative New Zealand’s Visual Arts Residency.

Biljana will use the residency to produce intriguing new works that are site specific to the German capital. Her project will involve researching the Berlin underground train network, the U-Bahn, as a unique space for making, displaying and thinking about art.

Biljana says, “The residency has come at a really exciting time for me, as I am engaging with international audiences. Besides being an arts capital, I encounter Berlin as a city rich in cultural history, practices and spaces. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to focus on one of these spaces in particular: The Berlin U-Bahn.”

Biljana will explore the Berlin underground as an inhabited ‘space’ rather than solely a designed ‘place’.

“The project encounters the U-Bahn space as a kind of rolling event, a living pulse where machines and bodies and buildings resonate together to affect people in different ways.”

Alongside its function as a transport centre, the site has a tradition of hosting art objects, monuments and performances. “This complex relationship evokes many questions for me about the role of art today.”

As part of her research Biljana will examine the current status of the U-Bahn as a state-owned entity, as well as its socio-political history. She will examine this history from a new perspective, by using an intersectional feminist lens that recognises identity is formed by overlapping elements such as gender, race, class, religion or sexual orientation.

Throughout her residency Biljana will also give public talks, meet with Berlin-based artists, curators, writers and gallerists, as well as attend arts events, including art fairs in Europe such as the Biennale Arte 2019 and Art Basel.

The Creative New Zealand Visual Arts Berlin Residency includes an apartment in the heart of Berlin and a stipend of $40,000 to be used for the artist’s travel, living and material costs. Creative New Zealand also provides a place within the Künstlerhaus Bethanien studio programme and support for an exhibition.

The Künstlerhaus Bethanien is one of Europe’s largest international residency programmes for artists. As well as giving the selected artist the chance to experience a new culture and new ideas, Creative New Zealand’s residency helps to raise awareness of our visual arts in Berlin.

The Künstlerhaus Bethanien’s jury was intrigued by the inventiveness and freshness of Biljana’s work. They recognised that she would benefit strongly from Berlin’s international art scene, while simultaneously feeding her unique perspective back into it.

The Visual Arts residency runs from October 2018 to October 2019. It alternates with the biennial Creative New Zealand Berlin Writer’s Residency.

Previous recipients are: Oscar Enberg (2016), Greg Semu (2014), Ben Cauchi (2012), Alicia Frankovich (2010), Sara Hughes (2008), Mladen Bizumic (2006), Ronnie van Hout (2004), Michael Stevenson (2002) and Peter Robinson (2000).

Biljana Popovic

Born in Loznica, Serbia, Biljana Popovic lives and works in Auckland.

She gained a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Hons) from the Elam School of Fine Arts in 2012.

Exploring the relationship between art, architecture and politics is an ongoing theme in Biljana’s work. Her practice involves playing with art and context, positioning the idea of site specificity in the cultural and affective domains.

Recent exhibitions include Shout Whisper Wail! The 2017 Chartwell Show, Auckland Art Gallery Toi O Tāmaki; Standard Error, Glovebox, Auckland (2016); Sirens, Mirage, Auckland (2016); The Shadow of the Dome of Pleasure, Artspace NZ, Auckland (2015); Strange Arrangement, Window Online, Auckland (2015); and I Don't Have To Sell My Soul / You're Already In Me, Spring 1883, Melbourne (2014).

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