Maja Bekan, #1 Exercise in Lying Low, 2020. Courtesy of the artist.
The International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP) will present Maja Bekan: Hold It Together. (We Have Each Other) from April 13 until July 15, 2021. This solo exhibition by ISCP resident Maja Bekan concludes a year-long collaboration with New York City residents Pon-Pon Yeh, Mandy Morrison, Marie Christine, Juliana Cope, Cynthia Berkshire, Susan Hapgood, Alison Kuo and many others.
As Bekan puts it, the exhibition itself “is an (art) work in process, it is a spatial proposal for a future event, a work in a state of waiting.” Thus, the gallery is presented as a combination of performance stage, recording studio, and rehearsal space for visitors to contemplate Bekan’s choreography for human connection in a time of separation. The artist’s collaborators and audience are implicated in her call to prepare “to assemble again and exercise togetherness.”
Bekan’s sphere of intervention is often inspired by her own biography, art institutions, and the relationships she forms while doing artwork through collective activities. She is interested in the transformative force of the performance—the performance not bound as a category of temporality and disappearance, but seen as a space of becoming, not only understood as an aesthetic category, but also as a mode of political power. The protagonists of Bekan’s work are often women: artists, activists, students, retirees, and people seeking a place for themselves in difficult circumstances.
The work made for this exhibition was forced by the safety restrictions of the pandemic into an online platform. It became a bi-weekly “happening” of sorts that prompted more questions than answers, questions like, “How can we be collective if we are all in (Zoom) squares of our own? How do we mobilize (imposed) slowness? How do we create a collective intimacy without possibility to touch, to move, or to breathe in the same/shared space? What friendships do we need now and how do we become friends online? Who among us can actually slow down and who is asked to accelerate 24/7?”
A printed take-away with an essay by Thyrza Goodeve will be available in the gallery in May, 2021.
Maja Bekan is currently an artist-in-residence at ISCP sponsored by the Mondriaan Fund. She received a master’s degree in Fine Art at the Piet Zwart Institute and at the University of Plymouth (2008). She is a co-founder and developer of the Rotterdam based artists’ initiative ADA, Area for Debate and Art. In 2008 she began the long-term research project ‘P for Performance,’ as a method to initiate situations, use performance as a both a tool to investigate collective intimacy, and a stage for knowledge production. Bekan has exhibited work at Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw; Kunsthaus Graz; Casco Art Institute, Utrecht; Artikum, Rovaniemi; IZOLYATSIA, Kyiv; The Living Art Museum, Reykjavík; SMBA Amsterdam; HC Utrecht; The Art Gallery, KCB, Belgrade; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; and Institute for Provocation, Beijing, among others.
This exhibition is coordinated by Alison Kuo, ISCP Arts Residency Manager, with exhibition assistant coordinator, Daniela Chaparro.
Special thanks to Kari Conte, Juliana Cope, Gunndis Fingabodotir, Stine Hebert, Boris Krga, Frances Maggio, and Angela Serino.