This is the first blog from our blog series “Do I live now as much as THEY: LIVEd then?” regarding exhibition with the same title. The exhibition was a result of collaborative curatorial work of an international team, consisting of ten students from Serbia, Croatia, Spain, and Montenegro. It represents a selection of archival photos from private albums of former and current residents of student campuses in the period since the end of World War Two up to now, in Belgrade, Zagreb, Rijeka, Podgorica and Madrid, given from perspective of present-day students. The exhibition was opened simultaneously in all five cities on 28th October 2022.
We asked the following questions curators of the exhibition “Do I live now as much as THEY: LIVEd then?” from each city. The first blog brings us answers from Ana-Marija Lončar and Antonia Radošević, students of the Academy of Applied Arts (APURI) in Rijeka, curators of the exhibition opened at the Gallery APURI in Rijeka.
What are the similarities and differences between your current life and the lives of former students that this exhibition exposes?
There is a remarkable difference in regard with lives of students from various generations – primarily, there is a difference in technology and the way it has been approached. This, in turn, affects the fact that communities of the past used to be much closer together. The similarity however is in constant insecurity, so typical for young population, but modern times handle this issue by employing individualistic approach, rather than by sharing a sense of togetherness which can be seen with former students.
What motivated you to come up with a subtitle in addition to the main title of the exhibition? What meanings of the exhibition did you want to highlight and what did you want to point out to the visitors with the subtitle?
The subtitle „Here and Then“ perfectly describes passing of time, in contrast to the unchanging nature of location. Rijeka is a port city, a student city where a number of events take place in any given moment. Lots of passing footprints left an impeccable number of memories, some of which are documented in the very digital archive. We wanted to remind visitors that history repeats itself in many different ways, even though the background remains the same.
What motives were the guiding principles for you when thinking of and realizing the interactive part of the exhibition?
Considering that most of the exhibited photographs from Rijeka were from the previous century, and thus carried the „retro“ feel of the past, the leading motif was undoubtedly nostalgia. We successfully achieved this atmosphere with interactive props on the opening, such as old television set, cassette players, old-timey photo cameras, as well as a functioning typewriter on which visitors could write down their thoughts. To top it all off, a functional gramophone constantly played vinyls of carefully curated albums from our own DJ.
In your opinion, what are the further possibilities of using photo and audio archival material about students’ life from Topoteka in the field of art and culture?
I think the audio-visual material can be used in further exhibitions and manifestations with similar subject matter. Thankfully, there is always an opportunity to showcase archives representative of our parents' and grandparents' era. If anything, the information they contain must not be forgotten, but passed on to indicate our roots to modern generations and their path of shaping the future.