“Taking a temporary moment of rest, a short break after exertion” – the definition of the word pause sounds tempting to ears of overworked folks, when it is implemented positively in different dimensions of living. Still, there are different types of pauses, those that are not wanted, in which human lives are put on hold.
“Life pause” by the Ukrainian artistic duo Morra Ceramics is a project that gathers and presents the stories and experiences of Ukrainian citizens who fled the war and temporarily settled in Croatia, made tangible on ceramic objects created collaboratively between the artists and the participants. At the workshops held in Zagreb, Jelsa and Split, the artists collaborated with individuals from the Ukrainian communities, bringing them together to make clay plates with impressions of various plants, during which, while sharing experiences, they collected stories about leaving Ukraine in the middle of the invasion, about the first moments of the war in their homes, schools, about the changes that sudden and disruptive transitions brought to their lives and the lives of their loved ones. In the process of making clay objects, numerous dimensions and metaphorical meanings of selected plants were considered, as carriers of memories and emotional impressions in the form of prints in wet clay. “Life pause” in this dimension considers the bonds between people and the hidden meanings and dimensions of elements of nature, with the aim of creating a safe environment for sharing, but also encouraging the integration of individuals into the social life and culture of the places where the workshops took place. The exhibition itself, set up in the public space of Jelsa, shows the results of the process of making ceramic fragments and sharing experiences, it testifies to the courage of individuals in revealing their personal stories, but also to the unnecessary destruction that war leaves on the lives and psyche of every single person it touches.
Music theory claims that music exists between the notes, not in the notes themselves, that a pause is not a moment of nothing, but a time to experience and process what has been heard. Perhaps in the processes where communities are created for conversation, laughter, putting hands in clay and empathy we can find other dimensions of the pause we found ourselves in, a pause where people can connect and create something as beautiful as a ceramic object, as beautiful as a growing plant by the sea, as wonderous as a understanding.
About the authors: Morra Ceramics is a Ukrainian feminist ceramics project founded by Anastasia Vishynakova i Yana Guselnikova. They combine ceramics with social activism and share stories and messages to the world by producing ceramic objects, often by organizing ceramic workshops. After they have fled Kharkiv in the face of Russian invasion, Nastya and Yana found a new temporary home in Zagreb, where, with their extraordinary willpower and the support of donors, they restarted their ceramic and community workshop.
The exhibition is fourth event, as a part of the Postcards project, which aims to encourage research and evaluation of lesser-known elements of the local heritage of Jelsa and the island of Hvar and their (re)interpretation outside of the usual tourist-commercial narrative. Using the very idea of a postcard as a format for presenting a place to “others”, the aim is to strengthen the sense of local identity based on the richness of one’s own cultural and natural heritage, traditions, relationships and community practices that contribute to their preservation. The program takes place as concept development and announcement of the Jelsa Art Biennial 2023.
Collaborators: Kristina Lazaneo
Curators: curatorial collective LAB852 (Karmen Krasić Kožul, Jelena Mićić, Marija Kamber)
Author of the text: Marija Kamber
Production: LAB852, Sustainable Island, Jelsa Art Biennial
Program partners: Magic Carpets, Jelsa Municipal Museum, Jelsa Municipal Library
Co-funding: Creative Europe Programme of the EU, Ministry of Culture and Media of the
Republic of Croatia, City of Zagreb, Municipality of Jelsa
Communication support: Jelsa Tourist Board