Vojnić, Petrova Gora

The first day of the Croatian study visit started with the artists, mentors and organizers meeting at the quaint Ekodrom Estate, where the host Marko Rukavina made everyone feel welcome with home-made snacks and refreshments. The introductory presentation of the work and methodology of LAB852 was hosted by Marija Kamber, project coordinator and curator, in which the artists were familiarized with the details of LAB852’s previous works; successful projects that managed to blend contemporary art in the public space and nature, as well as activate local communities. Upon viewing the presentation the artists were then introduced to the work of Croatian artist and architect Iva Peručić of GROW studio and Paprat kolektiv. Iva, who was the main designer and architect of the sustainable lodge and yoga retreat Ekodrom shared her experiences of working with natural materials, reusing and repurposing building materials and creating a cohesive sustainability narrative through her works. After lunch, the Musicvilleans shared a brainstorming workshop centered around mapping the interests, capacities and aspirations of the Musicville artists that are relevant for the Musicville project and the production of opera. After a locally harvested and prepared dinner, the final activity was visiting the rehearsal of a local folklore ensemble KUD Vojnić, where the artists even tried their hands (and feet!) in folk dancing and contemporary dance.

The second day of the study visit started out slowly with a morning stretch and breakfast, after which the artists headed for the mountains, where exploration, documenting and mapping of possible artistic intervention sites and/or operatic scenes  took place along the mountain path. Prior to the hike, the artists have received a surprise gift from the local guide Čedomir Studen: handcrafted wooden walking sticks personalized with the Musicville logo. Čedomir who was also their guide through the hike and shared his knowledge of the Monument to the Uprising of the People of Banija and Kordun, where he was active in the building and early operating days of the monument. His first-hand experience and knowledge were invaluable to the Musicville artists, who attentively listened and asked questions about the history and significance of the site. The 2 hour hike concluded with pancakes at the Hunting lodge Muljava. After arriving back at Ekodrom the artists participated in group work sessions curated by Karmen Krasić Kožul, director of LAB852 and project manager and Sara Renar, Musicville artistic director and mentor: World cafe: what is healing, different aspects of healing, mind/body/soul. Discussion on healing, nature, mental health, community, perception of normality, borders, inclusion and other topics that are relevant to the experiences of all the study visits. The day ended by reminiscing and relaxing in the sauna, soaking in hot tubs and singing by the fire on the estate, with the lunar eclipse illuminating the night.

On the third and final day of the study visit, the artists and organizers gathered in a roundtable discussion about the possibilities and outcomes of the project and created a plan for future implementation online, before gathering IRL again in 2024 for the residencies and performances.

Photos by Navid