On-Air workshop in Skopje, Macedonia



- Host Organization: Public Room, Skopje

- Focus: AiR for designer and architects, portfolio review

- Participants: 19

- Date: 29 and 30 September, 2011

- Location: Museum of Macedonia – in the framework of the Skopje Design Week



Public Room, located in Skopje, Macedonia,  offers residence studio’s  for international artists. The organization supports the planning and realization of its residents’ projects, its production, the development and organization of artistic and cultural projects both in and outside Skopje. The selection of visual arts is based on individual applications and in cooperation with national, regional and international partners

Skopje design week

PUBLIC Room was one of the organizers of the Skopje Design Week, which took place between 28 September and 2 October 2011 in Kurshumli An in Skopje. Kurshumli An is considered as one of the most beautiful and most famous monuments of culture in Skopje and it represents a monumental object of the profane Islamic architecture.  It was built in the middle of the XVI century; however the precise date when it emerged remains unknown.

In close collaboration with Trans Artists,  an ON-AiR workshop was developed in the framework of this Design Week. This workshop was tailor made for designers and on special request of PUBLIC Room, also a hands on workshop.

The overall program of SDW 2011 was an ambitious mix of innovative disciplines, ranging from product design, fashion, jewelry, photography, film, music, theater contemporary visual arts and business issues related to arts and culture.


The workshop

The workshop took place in Museum of Macedonia that is situated close by Kurshumli An and was planned for 2 days with special attention on how to write an application. The group was mixed, from visual artists to industrial designers, jewelry designers (working in such a specific discipline like filigree), theater and graphic designers, musicians etc. They were all between 20 and 35 years old, most of them active as artists or designers, while some of the participants were doing masters degree.

During the workshop the participants talked about their experiences as practicing artists and designers and the differences in residency opportunities for applied art and for fine art. It was a group of 19 participants and only one person had done a residency.  That was Blagojce Naumovski, he had an exhibition in Berlin where he spontaneously stayed for 2 extra months. It was a self directed residency and he was really satisfied about it and the fact that while being there he could concentrate only on production.

There are not many funding opportunities for artists in Macedonia except from the Ministry of Culture that also functions as the main information desk. We noticed that there were still few gaps in terms of additional funding, where to look for it and for other mobility opportunities for artists in Macedonia. During the workshop we concentrated on the different possibilities and information websites for which Macedonian artists can apply or get new and updated and reliable information.


AiR experience

The second part of the day there were  two guest artists: Yane Calovski and Hristina Ivanovska. They talked about their personal experience in going on residencies and organizing residencies, as well as about the collaboration projects they did together.

It was interesting to hear Hristina’s experience for the first residency she’s done, which was in the mid 1990’s. She was invited by the residency organizers to go to Stiftung Künstlerhaus Boswil in Switzerland. Having in mind the situation in the Balkans in that period, the long process of communication through letters and the struggle for arranging visa, it was interesting to hear how in the end she managed to get to the residency, although it took her almost 2 years to arrange everything.

Yane Calovski also talked about his own experience in CCA Kitakyushu in Japan, where he went after graduating at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

In September 2004 they established Press to exit project space as a special program-based artist initiative for research and production in the field of visual arts and curatorial practices in Skopje. The project received a mandate (from November 2004 until December 2008) from the Swiss Cultural Programme (SCP) in South East Europe and Ukraine to undertake a critical examination and evaluation of the questions raised by contemporary artists, curators, architects and theorists in Macedonia, the Balkan region and beyond, in relation to contemporary society and the practice of art.
From November 2010, press to exit project space continues functioning as a non-governmental organization with the same focus of interest.



In the second part of the workshop the group was divided in two smaller groups so we could speak to each other more into detail and each participant  could choose a residency to write a pilot application for. During this process the participants put in practice what was talked during the first part of the day. Especially the Trans Artists checklist with questions about motivation, searching, selecting and applying for residencies were considered very valuable in helping the participants preparing their application.

Almost all the participants had some experience in preparing their portfolio, but less experience in writing a motivation letter or a project proposal. Most experience was for applying in schools, for instance for a master degree, but rarely for a residency.

For the next day the participants got an assignment to write a motivation letter and project proposal, each up to 250 words for the pilot application for the residency the chose the day before. The second day of the workshop the letters were discussed, reflecting on the strengths as well as possibilities for improvement. The feedback from the participants was very positive, quite a few artists felt insecure about their own letter and really appreciated to have done this exercise with the possibility to learn from each other strengths and weaknesses.


Useful links

Skopje Design Week

Yane Calovski

Stiftung Künstlerhaus Boswil in Switzerland

CCA Kitakyushu in Japan

Press to exit project space

Swiss Cultural Programme (SCP)