9 December - 10 January
The existence of the collective “Zero” is probably the most serious evidence of the occurrence of freedom in contemporary Macedonian art. Its beginning must be traced back to 1985, at a time when the feeling of a complete change was becoming more and more overpowering. Of course, the experimental works of authors such as Simon Shemov, Nikola Fidanovski and the artistic duo Milos Kojoman and Dragoljub Bezhan could be noted in the previous decade. Nevertheless, the 1985 “Zero” collective’s exhibition “Expression, Gesture and Action” culminated in a comprehensive process of cultural change that goes beyond the then-Republic of Macedonia.
Thus, the work of the group is connected with the artists Bedi Ibrahim, Miodrag Desovski, Peritsa Georgiev - Pepsi, Tatiana Milyaovska, Aco Stankoski, Igor Toshevski and Zlatko Trajkovski. Their meeting place is "Gallery 7", located on the Old Skopje bazaar street. These are also the names from the catalog of the collective’s exhibition in Cologne in 1990, which is the first presentation of alternative Macedonian art outside the country
“Zero” is a new generation that deliberately sets no boundaries in terms of the means of expression it uses. This is not a coincidence, as it is precisely in the 1980s that we can speak of the simultaneous occurrence of picturesque neo-expressionist practices as well as conceptual strategies related to installation, photography and happening. Perhaps the most characteristic feature of “Zero” is the lack of "style", entirely in the spirit of a postmodern eclectic perception of art as a way of freely expressing the human personality. Therefore, the actions of the collective can be both collective and individual - from murals to performances. The group’s participation at the Venice Biennale in 2011 is also not by chance and states that "Zero" (both locally and internationally) should now be considered a classic.
When in 2019 I participated in an exhibition with Bulgarian and Macedonian artists in Skopje (in the branch of the National Gallery "Mala Stanitsa"), it was very interesting for me to find that the collective "Zero" works with artists from different generations. This speaks not only of coming a long way in the history of art, but also of the attitude towards continuity in contemporary art. And, I would like to note, that the development of alternative scenes in Macedonia and Bulgaria contains many common features that have not been the subject of art studies so far. In this sense, the current exhibition of the collective "Zero" in Sofia's One Gallery is a probable step towards the mutual recognition of similar innovative processes.
Text: Svilen Stefanov