On Monday, June 13th the exhibition of project They: Live entitled “Playing House in a Cramped Labyrinth: Stories from Students' Spaces in Podgorica” was open in the lobby of Technical faculties in Podgorica, Montenegro.

Playing House in a Cramped Labyrinth is a short, collaged history of student life, based as much on playful concrete buildings from the not-so-distant past as on layered reports from the present and cautious glimpses of the future. It is told through a mix of views and voices from different phases of the development of the space which we in Titograd / Podgorica have called ”by the Radoje Dakić factory”, ”by the Technical Faculties” and ”next to the City Quarter”, but never actually – a student campus.

The exhibition is the result of research, artistic and collaborative engagement of a group of 14 students with whom the artist Milena Vukoslavović and the curator Sonja Dragović worked during artists residency in the student dormitory of Podgorica.

“How does the student community live in this periphery which, affected by the gravitational pull of the nearby shopping center, is rapidly becoming the new city center? What is central to the student experience in Podgorica? These are some of the questions we have tried to answer through our stay and research in student dormitories and other spaces of work, rest, and leisure for Podgorica students. Starting from the idea that space gives structure to social relations, and is at the same time being changed  and re-constructed through those relations, we set out in search of motives, connections, and values that remain constant – both through decades of student life in the First Phase Building of the New Student Dormitory and through the sudden and violent growth of new residential blocks that are hastily turning the once open and wide spaces around student buildings into a cramped labyrinth. What did we find? In short: thoughtfulness, resourcefulness, engagement, willingness to work, readiness to have fun, patience for roommates, tolerance for  the canteen, and love for the rooftops” says Sonja Dragović, curator of the exhibition.

Student stories and experiences are announced and rounded off with paintings by the project’s artist Milena Vukoslavović. By choosing motifs from the usual life in the dormitory, Milena reveals to us its unusualness, the layering of spaces in which it takes place, and the complexity of the relationship between what these spaces openly offer and what they seem to be trying to hide.

“I wanted to catch and present those most intimate spaces in a student's life, like the room itself. It’s a small space with so many meanings. I have spent six years in a student dormitory in Cetinje and I could understand the emotional connection that these students have with the spaces around them. I also worked on pieces that show the world outside. These are paintings showing how the dormitory and space around it changed in the past 40 years.“ says the artist.

The exhibition display was open till July 16, 2022.

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