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Speaking of interesting design places in Split, I presented the CRTL+Z gallery to you last month, and this month I’ll be focusing on something a little different but equally intriguing for the local and Croatian art scene.
For Split Tech City I explored Split Nomad Gallery (SNG), a pop-up concept that is slowly but surely bringing refreshment to the art and cultural scene of the city.
On this particular occasion, I had a cup of coffee with Mirela Jusupović, founder of Split Nomad Gallery.
We met at Smartspace where the SNG exhibition Cityscapes is currently on display. Mirela told me all about the idea of a pop-up gallery, what it means to the art community in Split, where we can see their work, and their plans for the future.
“Split Nomad Gallery is the pioneer of the pop-up art gallery model, a new concept in Croatia that allows art a nomadic lifestyle. With this dynamic approach, we break down traditional definitions of art and its relations with the public,” starts Mirela, as she continues about how it all started and what this concept is all about.
After fifteen years in the fashion industry, most of which she spent in New York, Mirela moved to Split where she got the idea of both, altruistic and productive concepts of how to bring art closer to a wider audience and encourage conversation about the very role of artistic creativity in the individual and society.
That sparked the idea of Split Nomad Gallery, founded four years ago.
The first series of exhibitions took place over the span of 6 months in The Ghetto Club where the first members of the gallery exhibited their works – Ivan Svaguša, Petar Reić, Luka Duplančić, Marita Bulimbašić, Lucija Bužančić and Mile Modic. Today Gallery has approximately thirty permanent members.
In the beginning, the gallery acted as an informal association with the aim of focusing on projects that will benefit the local art community and the wider art scene in a new and different innovative way.
“In four years of the gallery’s existence, the pandemic has kind of taken two away from us, but we were able to sustain ourselves. Exhibitions that the Gallery hosted every Thursday at the Ghetto Club for the first six months of its existence were a tremendously educational experience.
We soon realized that holding exhibitions once a week was a challenge and that we needed some additional content, including DJs and providing interactive experiences with artists and audience,” Mirela recalls the beginnings of Gallery.
Following pop-up events at the Ghetto Club, Split Nomad Gallery began working on other projects and partnerships with like-minded associations and galleries and soon expanded their activities outside Split.
In 2021, SNG partnered with Udruga Biševo in organizing art residencies on the offshore island of Biševo called BiLjET 2021 – Voyager. The residencies hosted artists and groups of creatives from all of Croatia, as well as from Serbia, Slovenia, and England.
Following the completion of actual residencies, in 2022 SNG went on a tour, presenting the residencies at 4 art shows in Šibenik, Pula, Zagreb, and Split. The gallery also had two collaborations with HUiU – The Croatian Association of Interdisciplinary Artists in Pula, which they are planning on expanding, and last year they embarked on their biggest project so far, a collaboration with FMFS – Mediterranean Film Festival Split.
“Producing and exhibiting NoMAD MOVIE ART as part of FMFS was an experience on a higher level. On this occasion, the Gallery had a possibility of taking on production on a larger scale, and artists had a chance to do something very unique and creative.
The theme was movie classics through the eyes of Split authors.
Fourteen authors – graphic designers, illustrators, etc. – were given the opportunity to interpret film classics such as Blade Runner, Amarcord, and Terminator in a form of an art print. The authors were given only one requirement – their designs need to instantly allude to the film they were interpreting.
The result was a great mix of visual art in a beautiful relaxed open movie theater Bačvice atmosphere,” explains Mirela while she recalls last year’s Festival experience, which also included MEDITERAONICA, a workshop where kids learned how to make movie posters.
The First NoMAD MOVIE ART exhibition led to a collaboration with a coworking space Smartspace in the center of Split. By this time, they collaborated on four shows, and the current one is a digital illustration and print exhibition called Cityscapes.
Cityscapes is a group exhibition featuring the works of four artists – Nikša Vukša, Ivan Perkov, Ivan Milas, and Goran Radošević – on the theme of urban landscapes and anthological works of Croatian modern architecture in the form of digital print.
“Cityscapes was my idea but the whole concept of merging four authors kind of happened spontaneously. Ivan Perkov showed me some of his designs, Nikša worked on some new ones and expanded my network by connecting me with Milas and Goran and that’s how the artworks organically came together into a cohesive art show,” says Mirela.
Cityscapes artworks are not only on display but also for sale and by now many visitors who came to Smartspace showed interest in this exhibition.
When talking about Smartspace and its founder Fedja Mirsilić, Mirela has only kind words: “The collaboration with Smartspace was an experiment that showed great potential for both domestic and foreign audiences as well as introducing the artists to a broader audience.
In Smartspace, I found pleasant and concrete support. Everything is so fluid and we make plans on the fly,” explains Mirela while she announces some future projects.
Cityscapes will be exhibited through July, after which the second edition of NoMAD MOVIE ART will take its place in Smartspace, after premiering at this year’s FMFS.
This year the theme is the same – movie classics, but this time we can expect eight new titles and new artists, in addition to a selection of last year’s top 5 movie posters. “Last year the focus was on the Split art scene.
This year we have authors from all over Croatia: from Split but also a few from Pula, Zagreb, and Rijeka.
In a couple of weeks, we will ask our fans to vote for the top five movie posters from the last year’s Nomad Movie Art, and together with eight new posters the exhibition, after premiering at FMFS, will transit to Smartspace.
This exhibition will also go to Pula and Hvar,” announces Mirela which emphasizes that all posters previously exhibited in Smartspace will still be available for purchase within coworking and showroom space.
At the end of our pleasant conversation, Mirela rounded off the whole story with a simple conclusion and invited everyone to visit them at Smartspace, and announced the second Nomad Movie Art on the forthcoming FMFS:
“With every project, there comes a lot of new experience and knowledge. A lot of time and energy is invested in educating the audience, but in the end, when you witness the success of the project, an exhibition, or anything we do, you know you are doing something meaningful, and all the hard work is paying off.
In all we do we try to be guided by a simple principle, that every society is directly dependent on the development of culture and art, and we believe that is exactly what we are trying to do at Split Nomad Gallery.”
Text by: Ivana Mikulić
Photos by: Marita Bulimbašić