press release

The exhibition Hotel Jugoslavija at the Salon of the Museum of Contemporary Art is the first presentation of artist Mladen Bizumić in Belgrade and Serbia. Bizumić was born in 1976 in Sremska Mitrovica and grew up in Auckland (New Zealand), where he graduated from the art school and began his artistic career. During the previous ten years, his projects have been exhibited at prestigious art manifestations (Biennials in Istanbul, Lyon, Moscow and Busan), and in museums and galleries such as Kunstlerhaus Bethanien (Berlin); Galerie am Landesmuseum Joanneum (Graz); MAK – Museum of Applied Arts and Georg Karl Fine Arts (Vienna); Zacheta National Museum (Warsaw); Fondation d’entreprise Ricard (Paris); Heidelberger Kunstverein (Heidelberg); Contemporary Art Centre (Vilnius); Te Papa – The Museum of New Zealand (Wellington and many others. Bizumić is currently living in Vienna and completing his PhD studies in the Art Theory and Culture Studies at the Academy of Fine Arts.

Aboout Bizumić's installations (that combine the media of sculpture, photography, sound and video) has been said to commonly appear like locations or sites awaiting the event of their occurrence. As critic Lizi Mud McBain writes, there is “a constant tension between the works and their display, the content and the context”, and the space of this tension “is filled with time creating new points of perception”. In his installations, the status and role of each element is precarious and dependent on a perspective of the spectator, while his photographic and video works display instability of their spatial coordinates that depend on perceptive-cognitive processes, on the relationship between awareness and emotions.

As his previous projects, the Hotel Jugoslavija is the result of a process of artistic research revealing not only “archival” facts about this hotel, but also deliberating on our complex formal relationships with immediate surroundings, and in particular - various, current “life forms” of this highly symbolically and architecturally significant construction. The exhibition features Bizumić's video film (in collaboration with artist Jim Speers) that was developed as a result of investigatian and observation of the current state of this building. The video film is shown next to an environment comprised of sculptural material dislocated from the hotel itself - re-structured fragments and details of its previous life, currently suspended.

The Hotel Jugoslavija was the largest hotel in the Socialist Federative Republic Yugoslavia with over 600 room and suits, restaurants with over 800 places, and other “contents” on seven floors of the main architectural complex and its accompanying buildings. It was designed by the Zagreb architects Kauzlarić, Horvat and Ostrogović, as one of the three main public buildings of the new capital, as early as 1947. The construction has begun in the early Sixties, according to the modified version by Lavoslav Horvat, and the hotel finally opened in 1969. The building’s architecture represents an extraordinary example of uncompromising application of modernist architectural programme. Today, it also represents the internationally recognizable statement of ideological and aesthetic ambitions behind the construction of an entire project of the Socialist Yugoslavia. However, this grandiose facility suffered the fate of the country after which it had been named: following the credited expansion in the Seventies, it becomes unprofitable in the Eighties, while during the Nineties it loses its hotel guests as well as two of its five stars, and, it becomes transformed, above all, into a venue for local ceremonies and festivities. During the bombardment in 1999, it was hit and partially damaged and after the year 2000, closed and then privatized, while today it still awaits its reconstruction under the name “Kempinski-Yugoslavia”…

Bizumić starts from the history of the hotel itself, but above all, he is interested in the found condition of the object, “the silence that comes after tragedy”, the space of melancholy and doubt. On the other hand, he is interested in the possibility of creating future visions for this space and its realistic outcome in the age of the crisis of global capitalism. With its multiple layers of meaning, the Bizumić’s project, Hotel Jugoslavija is at the same time presented as a ruin and as a space for possible reaffirmation of social awareness.

Mladen Bizumic
Hotel Jugoslavija
Kurator: Branislav Dimitrijevic
Ort: Salon of the Museum of Contemporary Art