international project THEY: LIVE

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The international project They: Livestudent lives revealed through context-based art practices, led by the Students’ City Cultural Centre, has begun its activities with an online meeting of partners from five European countries. The project takes place from September 2020 to February 2023 and it is realized within the framework of the European Union’s ‘Creative Europe’ Programme for Culture and Media. Besides the project leader – Students’ City Cultural Centre from Belgrade, the partners on the project are the International Centre for Archival Research ICARUS from Zagreb, the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) from Cetinje, the Academy of Applied Arts from Rijeka (APURI) and the Faculty of Audiovisual Communication at the King Juan Carlos University (URJC) from Madrid.  The associate partners on the project are the Institute of Art in Context from the Berlin Art University and the Centre for Public History from Belgrade. 

They: Live project explores the student life from the end of World War 2 to the present day in the context of everyday life in student campuses, students’ cultural habits and their free time, interpersonal and gender relations, as well as their social and political engagement. The aim of the project is to encourage the student population to take part in understanding and co-creation of contemporary art, by means of using archive materials and taking part in participatory art activities during residential stays of artists on student campuses. The project results will be used as guidelines for managers of cultural institutions and art galleries, curators and artists, for the purpose of further improvement of innovative approaches to the development of a young audience. 

Maida Gruden, a project coordinator, stated:
They: Live project has emerged from previous experiences the Students’ City Cultural Centre, gained through the realization of two projects: ‘A Portrait of the Students’ City Cultural Centre’, a participatory photography project focusing on the intangible cultural heritage of students (2016) and Art Residence ‘A Roommate’, organized at the Students’ City campus (2014).  The previous experiences and response from the student population and former Students‘ City residents served as an assurance that it is important to continue exploring student lives and reveal this insufficiently explored field of life experienced by a large number of generations. In collaboration with present and former students, we intend to find a spectrum of answers to the question of what it meant to be a student throughout history, but this time through a project taking place in a broader geographic area and in the European context.  Contemporary art practices have a large collaborative and participatory potential in revealing a specific view of history and life of communities, as well as of the needs of their members, thus the sustainability of this project involves establishing a network of art residencies, which will be organized in student campuses in different countries. 

Several activities have been planned in the framework of the project, starting with internal trainings on the conception and methodology of oral history practice and digital archiving. 

Archiving will include the process of collecting and digitalisation of photographic material on student life and recording oral history interviews in every country participating in the project. 

The editors of digital archives will be student campus residents, with one editor from each country.  Oral histories will be recorded and archived in form of conversation with former and present residents of student campuses.  Archiving of photographs and recording interviews on the collaborative digital platform Topotheque ( and on the official project web-site, which will be launched by the end of October 2020, has been planned in all four countries participating in the project 

The art residence program will take place on student campuses in Podgorica, Belgrade, Rijeka, and Madrid. One artist from each partner country will take part in art residences, which will be followed by exhibitions and public debate programs. They: Live project will in that manner provide young artists having no previous international experience, interested in various aspects of student life in their respective countries, with an opportunity to take part in art residencies in student campuses. Young curators involved in visual art, along with artists selected through an open call, will also take part in the project and attend the summer school on contextual and participatory art practices at the Institute of Art in Context in Berlin. During residential stays in student campuses, artists, together with curators, will develop art projects directly with students, as well as from photo and audio materials on student life from 1945 to the present day, collected and stored on the collaborative digital platform Topotheque and the project’s official website. Following the end of residences at student campuses, exhibitions displaying artworks created during residential stays will be held in gallery spaces in the proximity of student communities, accompanied by a catalog with textual contributions of young curators. 

A small ‘travelling‘ exhibition will be created from the archived digitalized photo-material, selected for the exhibition by a five-member group of students consisting of one student from each country participating in the project. The exhibition will focus on topics related to daily life in student campuses, cultural habits, and the social-political engagement of students. This exhibition will be held at the same time on student campuses in Belgrade, Madrid, Podgorica, Rijeka, and Zagreb. 

The book emerging from They: Live project will consist of three parts: scientific texts from various scientific disciplines on the topic of student life, collected through an open call, texts written by artists and curators on the organization of residencies, and a guide on the methodology of organization of this type of residential stay in student campuses. 

ICA team for this project:
Natalija Vujoševič, Srđan Tunić and Milena Prelević