The MSUB - Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade (Muzej savremene umnetnosti, Beograd) and its sculpture park, which transitions into a public park with no line of demarcation between the two, is a wonderful starting point for an inquiry into the theme of "the wall.” Not only does this museum rank among ex-Yugoslavia’s most outstanding examples of postwar modernist architecture, its faceted rooms also make it an ideal venue for better understanding the wall as an architectonic (and ideological) element. Built on the outskirts of New Belgrade, which was one of the large urban architectural projects in postwar ex-Yugoslavia, the museum stands beside the junction of the Save and Danube Rivers and opposite Belgrade Fortress, which rises on the other side of the Save River.
Downtown Lawrence Weiner's artwork responds to the fast-paced evolution of the cityscape in postsocialist Belgrade. This American conceptual artist installed his textual sculpture "PLACED ON EITHER SIDE OF THE LIGHT” atop the roof of the former Beaobank-high-riser. A scaffold of an existing billboard still proclaims a fragment of the advertising slogan formerly used by the now-bankrupt state-run bank: "A CA BAMA” can be translated as "with you.” Weiner used this constellation to bring the ambiguity of the wall into an associative play. This wall not only has two sides - front and back, above and below, right and left. It is also "placed on either side of the light,” i.e. it gleams, seemingly without casting a shadow, on the uppermost edge of a building that towers high above the city of Belgrade.
The Salon of the MSUB - Museum of Contemporary Art stands opposite the famous castle walls that gave Belgrade its name. Built in the 1960s, the Salon now serves as a venue for presentation of one portion of this exhibition’s artworks. Among them is a fascinating film by Neša Paripović which affirms the wall’s "elusiveness” and inherent ambiguity.
In the film, Neša Paripović roves through the city of Belgrade as a solo actor. Dressed in a business suit, he strides assertively, climbs over walls and cordons, treads across streets and lawns, and ignores boundaries and property lines. His path follows an imaginary line which bisects the city so that his trail, which is oblivious to the actual urban development, divides the metropolis into two halves. His footsteps delineate an invisible frontier, a fault line through the city’s districts. The wall positions itself along the borderline, but the borderline is a slender threshold along which many things make themselves recognizable. The meanings created by the boundary - coercion and freedom, domination and servitude, the difference between justice and injustice - tangibly reveal themselves in the form of the physical wall, but also manifest intangibly and metaphorically as a fissure, as the ruins of its own violence.
Some of the artworks also focus very concretely on the structure and essence of the wall: for example, Michael Sailstorfer’s floor sculpture "Studie U Wand,” which will be displayed at the Centre for Cultural Decontamination - Paviljon Veljković (Center za kulturnu dekontaminaciju, - Paviljon Veljković) along with other pieces, including "State Department [Capital],” in which the artist Sarah Morris explores the surface structures of facades. The Paviljon Veljković, another name for the building, is one of the principal exhibition sites: this venue has earned a respected place in Belgrade’s cultural scene thanks to critical artistic contributions about contemporary politics and current events.The exhibition’s third venue is the so-called Nacionalna galerija: despite its name, this location is not a state run art institution, but a commercial gallery. Among the works on display here is a piece by Uros Ðurić, in which the artist responds to the monumentality, historicity and character of monuments.
MSUB - Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade (Muzej savremene umetnosti, Beograd), Serbia, and Siemens Arts Program
Salon of the MSUB - Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade (Salon Muzeja savremene umetnosti, Beograd, Pariska 14
Centre for Cultural Decontamination - Paviljon Veljković (Center za kulturnu dekontaminaciju - Paviljon Veljković), Bircaninova 21
Nacionalna galerija, Dositejeva 1
Exterior area of the MUSB - Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgarde (Muzej savremene umetnosti, Beograd), Usce 10, blok 15°
Roof of the former Beobankahigh-riser, Zeleni Venac 16
Former department store, Knez Mihaiova 41-45
open daily from 12 noon to 8 p.m., closed on Tuesdays