press release

No Feeling Is Final. The Skopje Solidarity Collection
April 20, 2023–January 28, 2024

Opening: April 20, 7pm

In cooperation with the Museum of Contemporary Art Skopje, North Macedonia.

Curators: What, How & for Whom / WHW (Ivet Ćurlin, Nataša Ilić and Sabina Sabolović) Curatorial support: Laura Amann (curator), Hannah Marynissen (curatorial assistant) and Hana Čeferin (curatorial intern)

No Feeling ls Final. The Skopje Solidarity Collection revolves around the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) Skopje’s unusual collection of modern works, as well as the historical and political context of this extraordinary project. After the massive earthquake that hit Skopje (then Yugoslavia) in 1963, there was a huge effort to help rebuild the devastated city, as a large-scale gesture of international solidarity. The decision was made to establish a museum of contemporary art as a key cultural element of the reconstruction, and thousands of works were donated to Skopje by artists from around the world. Unlike most modernist art collections based on private tastes or national representation, the resulting Solidarity Collection emerged from the history of the city and the ambition to rebuild it for a new, socialist society.

The collection of MoCA Skopje represents both a time capsule of international art at a moment when modernism was still in its prime and a rare artistic encounter across the Cold War divide between East and West: it includes many artworks by predominantly white and male figures who will be well recognizable to an art-loving public, but it also goes beyond the established canon of modernism and incorporates often fascinating works by artists who hail from the former Eastern bloc, including Macedonia, as well as from the Global South. Among the artists in the collection are Pierre Alechinsky, Getulio Alviani, Enrico Baj, Georg Baselitz, Anna-Eva Bergman, Maria Bonomi, Alberto Burri, Alexander Calder, Luis Camnitzer, Christo & Jeanne-Claude, Ion Grigorescu, Sheila Hicks, David Hockney, Alfred Hrdlicka, Olga Jevrić, Jasper Johns, Alex Katz, Wifredo Lam, Sol LeWitt, Roberto Matta, Zoran Mušič, Meret Oppenheim, Pablo Picasso, Joan Rabascall, Vjenceslav Richter, Bridget Riley, Niki de Saint Phalle, Henryk Stażewski, Gligor Stefanov, Victor Vasarely, and many more.

The uniqueness of this collection was the reason to go back to its roots and approach it as a “true artists’ collection,” including giving a central role to contemporary artists in presenting it. Kunsthalle Wien invited four artists and one artist duo—Brook Andrew (Melbourne), Yane Calovski & Hristina lvanoska (Skopje), Siniša Ilić (Belgrade), Iman lssa (Berlin), and Gülsün Karamustafa (Istanbul)—to select works from the collection and to add their own contemporary works, bringing their vision of MoCA Skopje’s collection into intimate relation with their respective artistic practices. Elfie Semotan (Vienna) was invited to photograph the cityscape of Skopje and the museum. Writer Barbi Marković (Vienna) contributed a travelogue of her experience of encountering Skopje’s and the museum’s complex and multi-layered histories.

The exhibition also aims to connect the artworks from the collection to the place where they are housed and cared for. Therefore, the history of the city of Skopje, the 1963 earthquake, and the rebuilding are part of the exhibition’s story within an extensive context section, expanded by loans from the City Museum Skopje.

No Feeling ls Final. The Skopje Solidarity Collection offers a present-day mirror to look at the well-rehearsed history of modern art in Western capitals, as well as opening a window to the cultural and architectural history of a nearby city with which imperial Vienna has a long shared history. It is an invitation to feel and reimagine solidarity with neighbors at a time when instability and aggression across Europe are tangibly present.