The Most Beautiful Building exhibition is based on new artistic productions examining space, history and the present condition of the Belgrade Cooperative building.
Curated by Ana Adamovic and Milica Pekic, Kiosk-platform for contemporary art
Voice: Damjan Kecojević
Written by Milan Marković Matthis
Thank you Bojana Lazić
May 25-Jun 9, 2012, Belgrade
The Belgrade Cooperative building is one of the paradigmatic places in the city area. The building is situated in the central location of the Savamala zone, once an elite quarter and today a neglected part of Belgrade’s city center. It is better known under the name of Geozavod, an institution that used the building for a number of years. The building was erected between 1905 and 1907, based on the designs of the architects Andra Stevanović and Nikola Nestorović. The investor was Luka Ćelović, and it was built as the Belgrade Cooperative Palace – a joint stock company engaged in banking and insurance activities. By the decision of Belgrade’s Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments, the building was granted the status of cultural heritage and it represents cultural property of exceptional significance.
What is the current purpose of this building, what is its history, what can be found behind the shabby facade are questions that often remain only in the heads of the passers-by, or whose answers may be found in the citizens’ fragmentary memories of some events, New Year celebrations, parties, festivals or films recorded in the deserted interior of the building. Despite this, almost every citizen of Belgrade is, at the mention of Geozavod, ready to claim that this building is the most beautiful in the city. What makes this building the most beautiful of all?
Places are not firmly grounded within certain identities that are attributed to them. They can also be seen as a process within which they are constantly redefined, re-understood and re-positioned in the public domain, in terms of the activities related to them. So, how can we define a place like the Belgrade Cooperative building? Left to decay, partially vacated, occasionally used for various commercial events, and with an aura of cultural property of great significance, the building, as a social and political indicator and a kind of social and archeological terrain, opens up a space for exploration and discovery of possible interpretations.
The abandoned library, the uniquely engraved glass partitions of counters in the main hall, the piles of stones and geological samples, the scattered remains of furniture, the half-empty drawers, the wall decorations of the guest hall, the chandeliers and neon lamps, the laboratories, the movie sets, the boxes of unused graphite, the marble walls, the partitioned spaces, the corridors, the scattered papers, the leaking roof are just some of the elements of this depot of history collected by accident or negligence, which can be found within the walls of the Belgrade Cooperative building. Through the interventions and interpretations of the artists, the exhibition entitled “The Most Beautiful Building” deals both with the exploration of possible narratives hidden behind the remains of the accumulated layers of history of the entire 20th century and the attitude of the state and society towards heritage, history and legacy.
Artists: Muharem Bazdulj, Ivana Ivkovic, Natasa Kokic, Milan Markovic, Dragana Mladenovic, Nemanja Nikolic, Marko Pejcic, Katarina Pejovic, Bojan Radojcic, Slobodan Stosic, Ugljesa Sajtinac, Katarina Sevic