Education, Magic Carpets, Visual Arts

Stories of city courtyards: Magic Carpets year two!

Report by: Marija Kamber
Cover photo: Domagoj Hmura

Coddled in our dens, resisting hibernation during cold winter days, we observed the city maps, mythical tribes and walking feet of last year’s Magic Carpets programme. Lessons we learned from  Paulina and Maj last year connected to experiences that came from Kamba, and the manner in which such unassuming space can achieve the transformation of surrounding space.
The courtyard of Ilica 37, where Kamba is located, is like many others in the center of Zagreb and on the axis of the street of Ilica. The facade facing outwards, to the street, is neoclassical in style, the inner yard modular and irregular, filled with few shops, garages, and the multitude of abandoned spaces. Crafts surviving, still living in the manner they did 20 or 30 years ago, are slowly dying out, related to the effects of globalization that eradicated small business owners replacing them with fast food versions of items they manufactured, leaving behind them empty shops – properties owned by the state. The return of the crafts is not an irregular occurrence in the urban fiber of the cities today but usually connected with the rise of hip(ster) neighborhoods. But these few surviving craftsmen are still holding on to the old ways of functioning, too old to adjust and be relevant, too un-hip to be considered vintage. The residents of such buildings sharing inner courtyards in Zagreb face the alienation amongst themselves caused by unclear lines in property laws (combining shared ownership and tenant laws), occurring after the war ended. The courtyards built (and in the past used) for socialization now remain as parking and a source of under-the-belt conflict (You’re in my parking spot / Who shared the ramp key to the outsider again, etc.). 

Gemma Riggs, Internal Facade, 2013
And still, life preserves in places like that, old memories exist and new ones are being created, their appearance more interesting than ever, in the world that prides itself on being posh and shiny. That is the reason why the decision to make the community of courtyard of Ilica 37 the topic for our Magic Carpets residency came naturally, in order to see what and how can we contribute in transforming such spaces, while respecting the past still hidden there.  In this context, we selected two artists, somewhat different in their expression and approach: Gemma Riggs, suggested to us by our this year’s partner Folkestone Fringe, and Matthias Krinzinger, coming from Openspace Innsbruck. While selecting our artists, we were focused on choosing someone who had experience in collaboration with different artistic disciplines and media and Gemma caught our eye straight away with her easy, gentle way of conveying different stories through her films. Matthias, on the other hand, we chose because one of the aspects we feel strongly about was choosing the artist who uses humor in their work, an ingredient Matthias has in abundance threaded through his performances, sculptures, and burning cars.

Matthias Krinzinger, Self-portrait on 1960ies stamp

Parallel to organizing Gemma’s and Matthias’s study visit at the end of February, we were in the last stages of defining Glitch, a skill expanding project intended for artists and public alike. In the framework of this endeavor, we applied for one of the aforementioned abandoned spaces in Ilica 37, former opticians’ den and even sooner than that, typewriter dispatcher locale. As our bureaucratical systems often tangle and untangle in very unpredictable ways, the fate of said space is still undefined but something good is definitely cooking. Stay tuned and listen for glitches in the fabric of what you hear, it may just be us.