During last year’s residency, representing the experimental research phase of the New(Un)discovered Spaces project, we observed that Novo Naselje is home to numerous small entrepreneurial ventures, primarily family businesses and the sole source of income for many families. Most of these businesses face the challenge of competing with hypermarkets, ubiquitous in the area, offering similar products at lower prices. This situation places small entrepreneurs in unfavorable conditions, reducing their visibility and, consequently, their profits. The entire work process during the project aims to bring the qualities of these employers closer to the Novo Naselje community and highlight the benefits that the entire community reaps through their survival.
Art and economics initially seem like distinct and incompatible fields. However, in reality, these two domains are often intertwined in various ways. Besides the apparent connection reflected in the commercialization of artistic works and the profit for artists or the city and state due to increased tourism from attractive artistic landmarks, these two fields interlace on more complex levels.
Socially engaged art in the entrepreneurial sector can stimulate various changes in society. By creating new business models focused on solving social problems within the Novo Naselje community, such as a lack of unity, forgotten values nurtured by the community, and micro-problems that create dissatisfaction, these models can create new market niches, fostering innovation and societal improvement.
In short, art and economics are two interconnected fields that can operate in different ways, from commercial activities and inspiration to job creation and cultural development, to mutual exchange between these two fields and mutual benefits. The Novo Naselje entrepreneur community is largely composed of middle-aged individuals, and their ideals heavily rely on the socialist regime of Yugoslavia and nostalgia for times of community and when such businesses had additional value.
Socially engaged art can contribute to entrepreneurship by creating new business models, initiating artistic projects that encourage social change, and improving corporate responsibility. The creative approach and innovations brought by artists can stimulate entrepreneurial spirit, enhance existing entrepreneurial activities, connect individuals, and contribute to the creation of a community atmosphere.
This project aims to identify crucial issues within the small entrepreneur community of Novo Naselje and, through various artistic practices, shed light on these issues, thus contributing to their visibility and resolution. This approach increases the awareness of Novo Naselje residents on given topics, encouraging their active involvement in the cultural life of the city and critical thinking. Additionally, by merging these two fields, we create a new audience for contemporary artistic practices. Through collaboration with entrepreneurs, we contribute to their increased visibility, networking with other entrepreneurs and citizens, thus contributing to the development and stability of their businesses.
Calling on relevant authorities for greater responsibility is another aspect that the fusion of art with local entrepreneurship can impact. Artistic projects that transparently address current community issues can contribute to creating awareness about the active role that authorities can play in resolving market monopolization problems and taking measures to simplify and facilitate entrepreneurial endeavors.
The residencies in 2023 aim to portray entrepreneurs as individuals, presenting them to the neighbors of New Settlement not only as businesspeople providing services, but also as their neighbors who play a significant role in the community and can contribute greatly to its well-being.
The project “Oregano scientific” by Claudiu Cobilanschi represents a captivating fusion of art, society, and community. Inspired by the lives of small entrepreneurs in Novo Naselje, this project manifests through five sculptures that symbolically depict relationships and connections within this community.
Kobilanschi initiates his exploration with an analysis of the essential aspects of everyday life, understanding why people carry the burden of their concerns and ambitions. The project serves as a mirror reflecting realities but also opens a window to hope and unity. The artist’s choice of “Oregano scientific” as the framework for this artistic intervention is not arbitrary. The very title alludes to a botanical garden with its specific rules for positioning and planting different plant species to correspond and influence each other’s growth, aiding or hindering, becoming a metaphor for growth, development, and renewal.
The artist names the sculptures pavilions, reminiscent of a botanical garden, each representing an individual entrepreneur. Placed precisely in space, these pavilions speak to their individual characteristics as well as their mutual relationships.
The project “Oregano scientific” by Claudiu Cobilanschi offers an interesting and inspiring insight into the lives of small entrepreneurs through five abstract sculptures. His ambition to explore the dynamics of this community and present it through artistic expression contributes to the richness of the local cultural scene.
Claudiu’s approach to abstraction in shaping the sculptures contributes to openness to different interpretations. This characteristic allows observers to adjust their perception and find a personal resonance in the work. The project thus achieves its purpose – encouraging individual and collective thinking about the lives of small entrepreneurs.
“Oregano scientific” not only represents artistic expression, but also emphasizes the importance of thoughtful reflection, dialogue, and mutual understanding. Through these sculptures, the artist encourages a dialogue about entrepreneurship and the local community, inviting the community to unite and collectively build a garden of renewal.
Curatorial text by Sara Dedić