Full name: Marija Kamber
Currently lives and works in Zagreb, Croatia
Areas of interest: Interdisciplinary practices, community, art education, city spaces
Favorite books: Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor; Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig; Adam in Ochre by Collin Simpson
Favorite films: Flatland: Down by Law; Black Cat, White Cat; The Salt of the Earth; What We Do in the Shadows
I was born in Zagreb, where I graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts. During the time of my studies, along with clay under my fingernails and acid stains on countless ruined shirts, I got to observe my colleagues and myself in the various processes and struggles of retaining the artistic integrity, while trying to navigate the currents and impossibilities of the local art scene. After graduating, while working as a teacher and educator in a museum, the image of myself as an artist changed into that of an opportunity creator, the enabler of all the extravaganza both me and people around me wanted to create and present, which came along with the founding of the gallery Garage Kamba. In 2017, when I joined Lab852 and Magic Carpets, all the pieces clicked together into a wonderful mosaic of possibilities to create something real for artists and other cultural workers alike.
Why are you a part of MagiC Carpets?
Because it provides me with the opportunity to develop the existing abilities and to learn completely new ones, build new perceptions on what a curator and socially engaged art does, in order to be able to help others move, work and create.
Why have you chosen to be a curator or why has curatorship chosen you?
Starting as an artist, I don’t think I have conscientiously chosen to be a curator; the experience beforehand was based on self-curating and collaborating with other artists. Then came the endeavour to transform the old garage I had sitting in the centre of Zagreb into a gallery space, a project which joined 15 artists in a process of a week-long co-creation, that was supposed to be a onetime event. Around 30 artists and two years later, the direction of a gallery developed parallel to my progression as a curator. I’m guessing the venture into such practices has to do with the chronic lack of opportunities for artists to sustain themselves by producing their art, constantly looking for the next gallery, next manifestation, next hit (in most of them, mind you, the mention of fees is a joke, and not a particularly funny one). So, from a perspective of being on a constant lookout it made sense to stop complaining at some point and to start creating opportunities for others, emerging and poor and enthusiastic alike.
What do you think is the purpose of art?
The primary purpose of art in my opinion is to nurture non-linear way of thinking, of experiencing the world from different perspectives. For artists, the purpose of art is a decompression as well as a nervous trigger, a window from the inside out and vice versa. For observers, art is meant to serve as a reminder of erratic wonders and calming discords of the world, of the problems buried too deep and moments in someone’s mind that have the ability to shine and touch. It has the possibility to inspire, rattle, and point out issues. To give pleasure? Sure. To annoy? Definitely yes.
Past projects you are proud of (before MC)?
Garage Kamba (ongoing) – Garage Kamba is a gallery space located in the old pseudo-architectural courtyard in the centre of Zagreb, which functions as a pop-up gallery that focuses on interdisciplinary and ambient artistic production. Kamba’s program is focused on presenting exhibitions of non-traditional exhibiting formats, artistic practices based on context of the surrounding space as well as direct communication with audiences, local community that consists of manufacturers and residents, and broad public. The project is founded with the goal of providing support to emerging artists, both in financial and spatial capacity, as well as giving opportunities to cultural workers, curators, designers, etc., for implementing innovative curatorial practices and stimulation of contemporary artistic production in the centre of the city. More information: www.popupkamba.com