Institutional Diaries: FRU #1


In their first Institutional diary, Faculty of things that can’t be learned’s reflects on the challenges and responsibilities.

I remember it clearly. It was January 2022. 


Only two and a half activities were sketched in our notebooks for the 2022 program. In January we didn’t have secured funding or 100% confirmed presentation spaces but we were sure that we will find means or spaces to present this small, but exiting and in-depth researched program. In August we knew and we said: one book launch, one performance and one exhibition. All of them under the topic of contemporary non – democracies with a general aim of requestioning our democratic aspiring societies and the latent tendencies of profiteering from the occupation of the public space and the disappearance of the public. And each of them with 20 to 30 collaborators. This is the annual program and this is something that our small team consisted of 1. Artist/Producer/ Manager; 2. Curator/ Manager/PR 3. Coordinator/ Production manager 4. Financial manager/ Production coordinator will manage to accomplish.


In September it became clear that the presentation spaces for which we had agreements are not that confirmed. In our vulnerable and not standardized art context things can easily be summitted to interpretations, changes, variations of sorts. We are a small organization of having only an office under our premises so we usually collaborate with institutions on a city or national level to present our projects. No alternatively run spaces in the country! In the local art ecology, the non-profit sector is undervalued constantly and even stigmatized with the etiquette of ngo-ization as something really negative. To be honest, I don’t even know what that means but I always have to explain how we work and what we do. As if I had a chance to explain! Acquiring a space is always welcomed with hesitation, grumbling and pressure from the institutions as if someone is taking their space. Neoliberalization of the institutional sector welcomed price lists – more and more institutions charge for the spaces and there is some sort of price list if you want to use them to present a project.

For the international group exhibition WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON? On the non-aligned decolonial constellation we went through an organizational hell. All the institutions that were contextually related to the specific topic that the exhibition was dealing with – the presence of anticolonial ideas and actions in non-aligned Yugoslavia in the very processes of decolonization in a joint effort in reinventing transnational solidarity in the current line of political events – were having their own programs and no free space for external projects. Collaborative projects in a sense that the institutions collaborate with the non-profit sector in this very specific context of post-socialist institutionalized modernism means giving space for free for a certain period of time. So, we turned to the Macedonian Opera and Ballet’s management as we located the foyer as the exhibition space for it. MOB was one of the buildings built after 1963 Skopje’s devastating earthquake as part of the international solidarity and it was a gift from the Slovenian government at a time. This exhibition was a collaboration with Moderna galerija from Ljubljana, Slovenia.

From many meetings for decreasing their extremely expensive rent to the three times dismantling of the show while it was on because of their programs and other external events (something which was never mentioned and talked about!) it became perfectly clear for us that we cannot hope for any standard, agreements, professional ethics and trust if it’s not backed up by serios financial capital.

For the CITY AS A STAGE: Lost modernistic utopias we didn’t even had a space but this case is a contemporary paradox. It was called DOMCHE (diminutive from our home in Macedonian), a community space, smallest brutalist building in the world, after the dissolution of Yugoslavia privatized by the Socialist party and now left to decay. The perverse urbanization intended high stories buildings on that spot and the local administration didn’t give us permission to make the performance in the public space. So we used clausula in the law – we made it in public space on movable cherry pickers in a sense that they are not installed in the public space and can be easily moved.

The book launch AKTO SPEAKING! 2006 – 2020 Museum of Contemporary Art – Skopje and Makka Bar as well as the NEW AGORA – 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE DENES AWARD in the National Gallery of the Republic of North Macedonia – Chifte Hammam went well but as any instutition that is decapacitated and program full we had to pass though many netgotitations and hire many technicians and others to help us execute the events and do ours programs for a really short period of exhibition time (10 days).


In that sense, the innovative collaboration models addressing issues of inclusion, kinship and togetherness, democratic exchange and the ethics, emotions and practical solutions for environment-friendly institutional operation is still a big challenge for our local context. In order to come to the long-lasting professional platform for joint creation, sharing and exchange regarding both programming and inner mechanisms we will have to work a lot togeitheir having in mind the same aspirations and visions. If we are not that, then we will have the crumbling standrad from which we all suffer.

The need for more art spaces is big and that we are simply brought in the position of either surviving like this or stop doing what we are doing. As would our friend Kika would say, we just can’t do some things anymore 🙂

IV from FRU