Maja Marković: How we used to inhabit

25/11/2023 - 01/03/2024

The Probing of Housing

Giving a space to Maja Marković’s book Kako smo stanovali at Apoteka – Space for Contemporary Art converges private and public – the artist’s work on listing the samples remaining from old-day, planned and organised housing policies enters the space marked by a, probably, private practice, but of an extremely important public use. Both of these issues – housing and medical care – pertain to fundamental human rights – the right to home, the right to health, but also the policies of managing one’s body, taking care of its state, its work capability, and consequently its adaptability and movability.

A specific trait of Apoteka is the preservation of the old furniture, which evokes some even pre-modern times, classifying and arranging medication, tinctures, preparations, powders and creams, and is in itself a time capsule of sorts. Maja Marković introduces into this time-marked space her registries, paper samples for graphic designs, old abstract wooden toys and ceramic tiles, staging thus the prototypes for a possible exhibition of archaeology of modern-day housing. All these material traces of life out of which the author compiles her spatialised collages are all around us, in derelict houses, emptied apartments and closed down factories and plants.

The author’s probing of the nostalgia over a time of urban planning, quality mass production which created jobs and shaped the long-lost world of progress and, finally, objects with longer durability, happens through – ceramic tiles. A simple object, not manufactured in Croatia anymore, is inevitable in residential premises requiring more intense and frequent maintenance – such as kitchen, bathroom, floors, hallways. It is also inevitable in institutions treated according to highly standardised protocols, such as hospital, which also demand high sanitary standards.

As the book Kako smo stanovali is a visual essay on socially organised housing and its traces, the spatial installations in Apoteka, including a photograph set as a three-dimensional object, function as a laboratory of a retrospective utopian assumption. Regardless of a better past and uncertain future, they connect ancient plans, projections, ideas and utopias with their material traces – in the form of fictional product catalogues, samples of forgotten papers and tiles that never found their place on the wall. Staged photographs, as well as micro-narratives arising from the found samples and arrays of objects whose sketches are long-discarded elegiac view of a long-mislaid and abandoned idea of a better future.

Jasna Jakšić

Maja Marković holds MA in Painting (Academy Of Fine arts, Zagreb).
Her practice is focused on drawing technique, but these drawings are enhanced into spatial installations consisting of several parts. Investigating and interpreting space possibilities, in the attempt to reach its integrality, she stays devoted to the aesthetics of modernism and the ambiguous character of architecture and city-planning of that period. She investigates structures, combines them by highlighting their particular portions in color, with the aim to direct the viewer’s gaze and force him to form an attitude. Seemingly devoid of content, often neglected, the landmarks of modernism are interpreted as places where content is expected.

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