Residency in Belgrade Artist In Residency during October and November + Exposition in KCM
Shades of White
Kulturni Centar Magacin
Shades of white presents an artistic research on the multilayered historical evolution of Belgrade, focusing on its architectural heritage as a device to understand its inhabitants’ behaviors, traditions and relations with urban space. The framework of the research goes from the Roman occupation of Singidunum at the IV century to nowadays, paying attention to crutial episodes underlying Belgrade, the city under which more battles have been waged, as affirmed by The British Encyclopedia of Cities. To deepen into this background, the project departs from an speculative exploration of the slavic name Beograd (The White City), which dates back to the IX century, in spite that no clear evidence of its origin has been found.
The uncertain reason of the name becomes an excuse to explore its identity in a wider and more experimental way, understanding the city as a melting-pot. In this sense, the project holds a tension between white, conceived as a peaceful and stable colour, and the city’s endless history of conflicts and enigmas.
Thus, the proposal presented at Magacin’s main space has been developed through two main axes. On the one hand, a fieldwork based on several walking drifts around the city has been planned. This has enhanced a more personal and direct approach to the different neighbourhoods and landmarks, as well as the opportunity to spread the project in an expanded network, engaging its inhabitants while sharing different perspectives about the city’s landscape.
On the other hand, these observations have inspired a body of works (paintings, photographies and found materials) which end up creating a rhizomatic cartography of today’s Belgrade, from the dialogue between such concepts as construction-destruction, visible-hidden, past-present.
The body of works Biel Llinàs created during his artist in residence in Belgrade and his research during that time includes various approaches and materials. Works are diverse and bring a different perspective to the same well-known themes many artists who are coming to Belgrade, are intrigued by. His work goes beyond a cliche exoticizing view of the country’s history and his exploration of the concepts such as past and present, construction-destruction brings a dialog with the audience. The artist is choosing different elements intuitively from the new surroundings and adopting spontaneously and integrating those new materials into his artworks. His work is also being influenced by the ideological context. All this brings a fresh perspective for both sides, locals who are unaware of the ideological frame and for the artist who is reexamining presuppositions and views he had before he arrived to Belgrade.
He is bringing to attention the contrast, which is present in every aspect of the city. In the photographs for example the old vs. new, hidden and visible, construction-destruction. Using found materials such as stones and pavement tiles, he treated them as special gems, cleaning and washing each he chose to bring to the studio, and in a way creating the ritual to transform them, giving them new life with the new context. In Tracing white, an action-based tour, a white limestone was carried by the artist more than 20km (from Kalemegdan to Zemun and back) engaging this constructive material in the reexamination of historical context and today’s symbolical and personal background of all who took part in it. Collection of stones can be viewed and read in many different ways, like a group of people with distinct characters, or a group of buildings and depending on a composition creating a cityscape as in this art installation. The contrast between white and black stones can be viewed as a contrast between black granite stones, often used as cemetery gravestones, and also used in new pavements all over the renovated areas of the city, and white limestone used to create the old fortress, naming the city Beograd (white city). Referring to the fact that the city is not white for a long time we can look at the white letters Beograd, a site-specific intervention in the Cyrillic alphabet on the dirtiest wall of the gallery. Cyrillic alphabet is used also in the book Belgrade through the centuries, it seems like a coded system that hides meaning from the artist, but it reveals an abundance of information about the city for those who can understand it. And finally the broken plate, with possible multiple ways of reading. Serbian believe that breaking the porcelain/glass brings good luck to those who broke it, while Spanish expression “nunca ha roto un plato” points out the innocence and responsability of those who have never broken one.
Biel Llinàs (Mallorca, 1994) is currently PhD student at the UB Fine Arts faculty and holds a degree in Fine Arts (2016) and a Master in Cultural Heritage Management and Museology (2018) from the University of Barcelona. His trajectory is raised between art creation, mediation, and research and he is especially interested in the relation between the being and built space, understood as a biopolitical terrain where subjective experience, social values, historical facts, and myths converge. Thus, his artistic approach is based on a multidisciplinary critical perspective, bearing special protagonism to painting, installation, and photography as a means to reflect on everyday experiences concerning the dwelling, labour, consumption or landscape. He was former member of NAAG Collective (Barcelona) and has recently developed different projects with Ada Fuentes, such as Self storage. Estètiques de l’emergència habitacional and Sobre/Sota la Llar.
Shades of White, curated by Gordana Zikic and displayed at Kulturni Centar Magacin (Belgrade), is his third solo show, preceded by When the WIP comes down. Narratives del treball en art, in collaboration with Ada Fuentes (Espai Subsòl, Barcelona, 2019) and En Paral·lel (Can Timoner, Mallorca, 2016). He has participated in diverse collective exhibitions and festivals all around Spain in centers as CCCB, Fabra i Coats Fàbrica de Creació, Centre d’Art Torre Muntadas, Casal Solleric and Centre d’Art Tecla Sala, but also abroad in the frame of the JCE Biennale d’Art Contemporain 2019-21, exhibited in France (Paris), Denmark (Hjorring), Romania (Cluj-Napoca) and Portugal (Amarante) among other countries. He has been awarded with residency and production fellowships by La Escocesa, Fabra i Coats Fàbrica de Creació, Fundació Teatre Clavé, UNZIP and Programa Cultural Art Jove IB. In 2021 he will participate in Question of Distance (ACAVA Central Space, London), a collective exhibition curated by Carolina Lio, in partnership with SAC Fabra i Coats (Barcelona).