13.6.2022 – 22.7.2022 / Electro- Technical Faculty Podgorica
artist Milena Vukoslavovoć
curator Sonja Dragović
The exhibition “Playing House in a Cramped Labyrinth: Stories from Students’ Spaces in Podgorica” is a short, collaged history of student life, based as much on playful concrete buildings from the not-so-distant past as on layered reports from the present and cautious glimpses of the future. It is told through a mix of views and voices from different phases of the development of the space which we in Titograd / Podgorica have called “by the Radoje Dakić factory”, “by the Technical Faculties” and “next to the City Quarter”, but never actually – a student campus. How does the student community live in this periphery which, affected by the gravitational pull of the nearby shopping center, is rapidly becoming the new city center? What is central to the student experience in Podgorica?
These are some of the questions we have tried to answer through our stay and research in student dormitories and other spaces of work, rest, and leisure for Podgorica students. Starting from the idea that space gives structure to social relations, and is at the same time being changed and re-constructed through those relations, we set out in search of motives, connections, and values that remain constant – both through decades of student life in the First Phase Building of the New Student Dormitory and through the sudden and violent growth of new residential blocks that are hastily turning the once open and wide spaces around student buildings into a cramped labyrinth. What did we find? In short: thoughtfulness, resourcefulness, engagement, willingness to work, readiness to have fun, patience for roommates, tolerance for the canteen, and love for the rooftops. For more, see the exhibition, in which student stories in textual, audio, photo, and video formats are announced and rounded off with paintings by the artist Milena Vukoslavović. By choosing motifs from the usual life in the dormitory, Milena reveals to us its unusualness, the layering of spaces in which it takes place, and the complexity of the relationship between what these spaces openly offer and what they seem to be trying to hide.
The process of devising and designing one’s own home in the student room turns everyone who passes through it into someone else: someone more aware of their abilities and possibilities, but also personal boundaries and systemic limitations. Through this artistic and research work, we wanted to emphasize and celebrate this transformation and its potential for action which, even in our small collaborative team of students, has a wide range – from criticism of the quality of common spaces in dormitories to active advocacy to change the national environmental policy. The student action turns all spaces into student spaces and gives stories that come out of them a universal meaning and, on the trail of a happy ending – a way out of the labyrinth.
Sonja Dragović, curator
The exhibition is part of the international project “They Live – Student Lives Discovered Through Contextual Art Practices” and is the result of several months of research and art, but above all, a collaborative engagement of a group of 14 female students with which were worked by art artist Milena Vukoslavovic and curator Sonja Dragovic.
The project has been carried out since September 2020. due by the end of February 2023. years as part of the European Union Culture and Media Program “Creative Europe”. The leader is the Cultural Center Student City from Belgrade, and partners, besides ISU, are the International Center for Archival Research / Icarus from Zagreb, the Academy of Applied Arts from Rijeka and the Faculty of Audiovisual Communications of King Juan University Carlos from Madrid.
The realization of the project was supported by the Ministry of Public Administration of Montenegro, the realization of the University of Montenegro exhibition, and the realization of the art residency of the JU Home of Students Podgorica.