Gerontološki centar Novi Sad, dom Novo naselje (Elderly home at Novo Naselje, Novi Sad) has about 350 users over 65 years.
The Center is a home for old people that provides them with round-the-clock medical care and professional staff available to help them with daily activities. In addition to the institution housing people, the administration tries to provide them with various cultural, artistic and entertainment activities such as choir, painting workshops, art and craft workshops, chess competitions, card game competitions, birthday celebrations and celebrations for various holidays. Most of the home residents participate in some of these activities. Namely, since the start of the global pandemic of the coronavirus, this not-so-open community has become even more closed. Due to the health safety of the users of the Elderly home, strict rules were introduced that limited their movement around the facility and visits by family and friends. Therefore, the above-mentioned activities they participated in were reduced to a minimum. Also, their absence could be noticed on the streets of Novo Naselje. During this period, this group was not present in public spaces. Based on this observation, we decided to create an artwork with this community.
“Magic Carpets” project
Newly(uN)discovered spaces – Radical tenderness
During a month of intense talks and spending time with the ladies from the Elderly home at Novo Naselje, we discussed things that concern them, that they care about and that they miss in the public space to find a common interest in this target group.
Flowers appeared as the primary motive. A motive is often trivialized, while in this connotation it speaks of the tenderness and commitment that are the essential embodiment of our target group. Flowers are important to all ladies, with which different emotions and memories bind them.
The central part of Radical tenderness is the community garden, which connected the ladies from the Elderly home and the ones who live in Novo Naselje buildings around it and who had previously taken the first steps towards the community garden.
By forming a new garden in Novo Naselje, an extension of an existing one, we connected two target groups that did not know each other before but had common interests.
The women from Elderly home, as well as all citizens, got a new place in the public space where they can actively spend their free time, but also pass on knowledge and life experience to younger generations through practical work and indirectly send a message about preserving the environment and caring for public space.
While spending time with the ladies from Elderly home, we had a workshop where they planted flowers together with the young people from the neighborhood, taught them how to do it and passed on knowledge about caring for the species they planted. This workshop was documented in the form of a video work that was exhibited in the garden at the final event.
The final event began with a walk from the Elderly home, where we opened the event and took the flowers that we had previously planted during the workshop by walking to Milan Petrović School for people with disabilities, where they joined us, with the flowers that they grow and nurture in their plant nursery, after which we all together, with the general audience of the event, walked to the community garden and planted it.
Number of community members included in the project: 16
Reasons for participating in the “Magic Carpets” project: During the last three years, this community had very few activities in which they could participate. They were very happy to participate in the project. Frequent meetings, coffee chatting and workshops with the artist and the project team is pleasant for them to get away from daily routine. Also, they were very pleased to talk about their lives, families, talents, about the current situation in which they find themselves, about everyday life, but also about beautiful and instructive things from their past.
At the very end, we planted mysterious flower seeds, which we will discover only when they grow, and we will use them to create a new garden in front of the Gerontology center with which we will take the first step towards spreading this idea and experience to other parts of Novo Naselje. Also we plan to develop a community garden that we create with ladies. We plan to add gardening tools and also to create a “Book of plants” as a guide for everyone for proper nursing of each plant that is planted in the garden.
For further information please contact Novo Kulturno Naselje ([email protected])