Our network is getting bigger!
Croatia is certainly not the center of the world. In fact, it is still searching to carve out its own space in Europe. The financial crisis struck heavily here and, as a result, the cultural sector is suffering greatly. Plus, the very small art market is still adapting to the rules of a new system after years of socialism. None of these factors contribute to making an artist’s life simpler, so Marina Bauer, an artist herself, decided to take action.
Marina graduated in 1998 from the Department of Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts at the University in Zagreb and taught there for 14 years, first as an external associate, then as an assistant and finally as an assistant professor in the Department of Sculpture and Department of Art Education. She took part in a project coordinated by the Akademie Graz, Austria LandArt-Park and Au Schloss Gleinstätten within which permanent public sculptures were installed and she joined many art symposiums, residencies and workshops around Europe. In 1993 she won the Rector's prize of the University of Zagreb and in 2015 she received an award during the 12th Triennial of Croatian Sculpture.
Teaching life, together with the huge amount of paperwork that comes with it, left her very little time for her own artwork. So in 2016 she decided to quit and become a freelancer. Then, in September 2016, she also had her first “live” encounter with sculpture network which resulted in her decision to become our first Croatian Coordinator in order to express her need for greater communication among artists and the art scene.
Marina’s works range from land art interventions, to mixed media installations, to more traditional sculptures. In her latest work Places (2017) viewers can pass through a forest of twine, in her work “Encounter with Ourselves” (2016) people are encouraged to enter one of several isolated boxes and be alone for a little while.
You use very different materials, ranging from bronze to metal, wood and stone.… How do you select the material?
Sometimes I start with an idea and I search for the right material for it. Sometimes the idea develops from the material and the type of expression and technical possibilities it has.
Interactivity and communication, together with physical perceptions are a prerequisite in most of your works and you often involve the viewers. Why do you choose this approach?
When I realize a work my inner motivation comes from the physical experience. For me it’s important to not just express this experience, but also to enable the viewers to be part of it and have them experience it themselves. To experience a sculpture completely it is important not only to use your visual perception, but also to embrace the physical and bodily experience as well.
In both your professional work and your private life you like to be heavily involved with things. For example, with your new position of sculpture network Coordinator. How did you get to know about sculpture network?
Back in 2008 a friend of mine forwarded me the link to the sculpture network website and I immediately subscribed to the newsletter. For about 7 years I was a silent reader of those newsletters. But then in September 2016 I was in Brussels and realized that the International Forum in Antwerp was taking place simultaneously. I registered very spontaneously and joined the conference on the day when the theme was “LandArt, BioArt and EcoArt” at the Verbeke Foundation. There I met one of my LandArt heroes Nils-Udo, who held a lecture on his artist’s practice. After this first event I immediately applied for my sculpture network membership.
Why did you decide to get involved?
I really liked the community feeling that I experienced during the International Forum and I felt an urge to inform my friends and colleagues back home about what I experienced in Belgium. At the Forum I met Christiane Tureczek, the Swiss Coordinator, who suggested that I should organize a start’17 event in Zagreb. I saw in start a good opportunity to spread what I had learned and to make a first attempt at organizing something in Croatia. 30 people joined the event. After that I also signed up for the art trip in June 2017 to Kassel and Munster for documenta14 and the Skulptur Projekte.
The trip was great! Not only for visiting the sites, but also for the networking and communication possibilities. One evening another artist brought his catalog to dinner and we were all brainstorming which galleries might be good for his work!
After these personal experiences I decided to get even more involved and became a Coordinator for Croatia in hopes of developing a sculpture network community in my own country. I think it’s really important to cross national borders and to communicate with colleagues abroad. It helps us to learn about the similarities and differences of the art community and opens up new possibilities.
Have you already seen benefits from these activities?
Yes, I feel more connected and motivated and I also see that something is changing for my Croatian colleagues, too. I organized a second event in Zagreb for start’18 at the Glyptotheque of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts. This time we had almost 80 participants, with about 40 artists and 12 curators from different institutions and galleries. People stayed for a very long time and talked a lot. We organized tables where the artists could display their catalogs and everyone was gathering around them like it was buffet! Plus, with the photo-wall you could see pictures coming from all of the other 96 venues around the world. I think the feeling of belonging to the same community was very strong.
I personally received an invitation to an exhibition and, thanks to my role as sculpture network Coordinator, I was invited to join the Managing Board of the 13th Triennial of Croatian Sculpture which will take place this summer.
Marina will continue to help us to establish a sculpture network community in Croatia and will give us some interesting insights in her country. Stay tuned for more news: we’re looking forward to it!