press release

In her performances, videos, installations and photographs the Bosnian-French artist Maja Bajevic (b. 1967, lives in Paris, Berlin and Sarajevo) connects the private with the public and the intimate with the political. She turns her subjective view of phenomena in the globalised world into the object of public discussions of truth, identity and home. Focusing on the themes migration and identity, the marginalisation of the alien and a contradiction between the local and the global she creates subtle works that critically interrogate the political and economic structures of our age.

Maja Bajevic is one of the most important contemporary artists with eastern european background. She has shown her work in numerous solo exhibitions, in the Fondazione Bevilaqua la Masa in Venice (2008), in the National Gallery in Sarajevo (2006), in the Moderna Museet in Stockholm (2005), at P.S.1 in New York (2004), at the in Basel (2002) and in many group shows and international Biennales like Documenta 12 in Kassel (2007), the 50th Venice Biennale (2003), the Istanbul Biennale (2001) and Manifesta 3 in Ljubljana (2000).

Specially for her solo exhibition in Kunsthaus Glarus she has produced a work in which she takes the history of textiles in Glarus as her starting-point, to compare earlier relations of trade and production with the contemporary situation of the global market. The artist commissioned a Chinese company to recreate historical Glarus textiles as paintings on canvas. By doing so she is commenting on the import-export relations in the age of textile manufacture in Glarus in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, from production in Europe to sales in Africa, Turkey and Indonesia, which represent a reversal of the contemporary situation. Original and copy, arts and crafts are suddenly seen in a vexing relationship to one another, and throw up questions concerning the conditions of the contemporary market and trade economy, conditions of employment and production, relations of value and labour, but also their meaning and meaninglessness.

Closely connected to this interest in economic processes is the artist's interest in migration. Using a wobbly hand-held camera, the video installation Le Voyage (2006) follows a migratory journey from Morocco towards Europe. In parallel with this, brief shots from the Hollywood film Casablanca, with Arabic subtitles, are faded in. The dream of the better life for a migrant from Morocco is confronted with that of Hollywood cinema. In the film, Morocco during the Second World War was a place of refuge for many Europeans, particularly the French, but also Americans escaping to America, to get away from the National Socialists who held France under occupation. Twists of fate, corruption, the trade in visas and chances of escape were, then as now, part of the situation. But the location of hope and the direction of migration have now turned in the opposite direction. Maja Bajevic locates her works in a general discourse of repeated, fateful subjects. In her work the reference to film stands for hope and dreams, which are shaped not least by Hollywood cinema, but which in reality often end in destabilisation, loss of identity or even life-threatening situations.

Important instruments in the construction of both individual and national identity are patriotic songs and anthems. Maja Bajevic uses a series of patriotic songs in her sound installation Avanti Popolo (2002). There she has people from various countries sing their patriotic songs and installs them in various 'sound islands' in the exhibition space. The presentation with large numbers of loudspeakers evokes the silhouette of a metropolis – melting-pots of the most diverse nationalities. Visitors activate the songs with a movement sensor until the individual songs disappear into the chaos of all of them. What as a single song was intended as national identity and official representation of the individual countries dissolves into an absurd cacophony of all nationalities.

Kunsthaus Glarus gratefully acknowledges the support from the Südkulturfonds and the Dr. Georg und Josi Guggenheim-Stiftung for this exhibition.

only in german

Maja Bajevic
Import Export