Oliver Musovik

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Website: www.olivermusovik.tk
Works at: Seoul Art Space_GeumCheon
Stays in: 2014

Born in Skopje, Macedonia, 1971.
Graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts in Skopje in 1997, MFA in 2004.
He works in variety of media, although mostly with Photography and Installations in combination with texts – short narratives from everyday life. People and object from his immediate surrounding are in his main focus. He observes the simple ordinary actions, systematically records them, interpreting the interesting, unusual and hidden correlations and later revealing them in his artworks. In these small, ephemeral dealings he tries to identify concepts and behaviours that apply to a wider socio-cultural context.
He had solo exhibitions in Macedonia, Switzerland, Slovenia, Serbia, Australia and Montenegro. He had participated at numerous international exhibitions, among others HISTORY, MEMORY, IDENTITY: Contemporary Photography from Eastern Europe” in Modena in 2009; the 3rd Bucharest Biennale in 2008, 1st Biennale of Contemporary Art “Heterotopia” in Thessaloniki in 2007, “The Gorges of the Balkans” in Kassel in 2003, Manifesta 4 – European Biennale of Contemporary Art in Frankfurt in 2002, 6th Istanbul Biennale in 1999.
Participated at three artist-in-residency programs: Kuenstlerhaus Boswil , Switzerland, 1999; Storefront for Art and Architecture, New York, USA, 2006 (ArtsLink); Domaine de Kerguéhennec, Bignan, France, 2008.
His works are part of several public collections like the Museum of Contemporary Art, Skopje; Museum of Modern Art, Ljubljana; National Museum of Montenegro, Cetinje; Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena.
His works have been published in art magazines and books, including “Autobiography” (Thames and Hudson, 2004), “Vitamin Ph – New Perspectives in Photography”, (Phaidon, 2006), “Photo Art, Photography in the 21st. Century”, (Dumont 2007 / Aperture, 2008).
Co-founder and co-curator of the Press to Exit Gallery in Skopje in the period 2002-4. In the period 2000-2009 worked as Cultural Program Officer of the Swiss Cultural Programme in Macedonia, later in the period 2011-2013 he was Regional Deputy Manager of the Swiss Cultural Programme in the Western Balkans, based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Member of the European Cultural Parliament and Macedonian Centre for Photography. Member of the loose artist collective KOOPERACIJA from Skopje. Co-founder of the regional (Balkans) the cultural agency ArtaAngle – Balkans | Culture | Development.


The New Neighbor, assemblage, 2013

She moved in several years ago. She is always friendly with the neighbors, greets them politely and stops to talk shortly with the ones in mood for chit chat. Yet, she does not know the names of most of them! Sometimes, I tell her the names of the neighbors, but as the neighborhood changes, some people move away and others move in, I myself do not know all of the neighbors in the building now and some I have actually forgotten how they are called.
With time she started referring to the some of the neighbors according to their uniqueness' and activities that she noticed, something like - "the one that always parks on the corner".
This "Indian" naming of our neighbors became our joint game.

O ancestral town of Thebes,
and primeval gods,
action in public space,
Skopje, 17-18/04/2013

Neighbors v2.010, ink jet print series, 2010

The gazebo built some ten years ago in the yard from scrap materials by the tenants of the building, with intention to be a place for socializing, fell as a result of its own success. Namely, the gazebo became too popular. During the day, people from the building would usually occupy it, watching over children playing in the yard, or just socializing, talking politics and sports, or playing chess. During the night the gazebo was frequented by young people (usually outsiders, not from the building) who would seat there, sometimes with alcohol, talk and laugh deep into the night, sometimes even till morning. In summer (during the summer school break) at some nights the noise coming from the yard would become excessive, to a point that the people in the building could not sleep. The tenants complained over the disturbance to the police several times, but to a little effect. The night noise became constant.
After years of frustration with the situation, one night this spring, a young enraged neighbor took an axe and chopped down the posts of the gazebo. The next morning, the neighbors cleaned up the remains, leaving only the gazebo’s round concrete base.

Neighbors v2.010, ink jet print series, 2010

The first graffiti on the building appeared some years ago. It was a single word in Macedonian – ЗОШТО? (WHY?) – written in red with the usual graffiti style letters. Don’t know who wrote it, or what it actually meant.
Couple of years afterwards, during the spring clean-up of the yard, when the neighbors whitewashed the tree trunks for protection from insects and sunscald they painted white paint over that graffiti.
Not long after that, on the same spot a new graffiti appeared. This one, a little longer, is a phrase – ПОТРЕБНА Е ПРОМЕНА… (A CHANGE IS NEEDED…). I imagine that the author is the same as the one of the previous graffiti, as it is sprayed on the same spot and seems somewhat dialogical, argumentative.
Centrally, in front of the graffiti, from a crack in the pavement an apple tree sprouted. It grew almost 2 meters high, before finally this spring during the cleaning of the yard it was cut down (the chopped tree trunk lays at the left). Yet, the graffiti was not painted over this time, although the trees were whitewashed again.

A short essay on Oliver Musovik
Ban E Jeong, Art Critic

I confirmed the traits of Oliver Musovik’s work through his website and photographic pieces I saw at an expert program meeting. To put it through a brief observation, considering the limit of criticism, Musovik’s work was an outgrowth of his collection of Korean people’s universal life-pattern, seen from a stranger’s point of view, hard to grasp from a local resident’s perspective. His accounts and descriptions at the meeting or in his statement were conducive to comprehending the content of his work. An example is a series in which he captures in photographs empty cans abandoned indifferently here and there as if seeking and collecting them. This series is the result of his observation of Korean people’s habitual littering anywhere despite the illegality - that one could be fined for misdemeanor. He interprets such “littering of trash” is caused by their overly demanding job stress and work-driven life. His other photo series features smeared windows of Korean apartments. He felt the windows were antithetic to Korea’s typical leisure culture seeking cleanness: Korean people usually go hiking in neat mountain clothes. They are quite prepared to meet clean nature, but their actual living space is in a filthy state. Musovik also seemed to find it quaint that Korean lovers are reluctant to express their affection publicly. He put several photos capturing lovers who appear immature in expressing their affection in the studio. Musovik explains his work is to discover Korean people’s intrinsic way of life through the categories such as an apartment, a red chair, a barber’s shop, and lovers after analyzing Korea’s architectural culture and urban scenes and classifying their shared features into several categories. I thought highly of such accounts based on his observation from his perspective as an expat of the urban scenes to which Koreans felt so familiar. However, I pointed out that his work needs to be reformed since we understand the intent of his work after reading his statements or listening to his accounts “posteriorly”. That is, viewers could reason about 30% of his intent just seeing his photo series, without descriptions. And, I advised him to show his work to Koreans he is able to communicate with and check if they could infer more than 50% of his intent without his accounts or statements. I think what is required presently for Musovik is the ability to convey his messages only through the images of his works rather than any commentaries.