The District from the Artist’s Perspective: Petar Mirković – Industrial Spaces Have Always Been Attractive to Creatives and Artists

Petar Mirković is a contemporary visual artist whose artistic handwriting marks the experience of the modern world and society through urban landscapes that are reminiscent of movie scenes, something like Godard’s scenes as they would be if they belonged to the 21st century.

The sculptor, who also expresses himself through drawing, comes from Novi Sad, and for years he has been exhibiting at all major world fairs and is part of the international scene. At the same time, he was recognized by the professional public and the market.

During April of the previous year, the former craftsman’s place in the old wire factory became a workshop again. The renovated facilities of the Novi Sad District, thanks to the European Capital of Culture title, have become a workshop for visual artistic production. Excellent Novi Sad artists who created there in unconditioned spaces, today representative studios, have returned to Radionica. Among others, Petar Mirković moved into the new/old studio, which is now much better and more suitable for creative work.

– ‘The new space’ is certainly something we have been hoping for for years. I believe that the potential that existed has finally been used and now I can say that this is a very functional and modern workspace that corresponds to today’s times. The most important infrastructure for the work process, such as heating, water and electricity, now exists.

As a positive advantage of the location and the object in which he is currently creating, Petar singles out the fact that it is a complex that brings together different artists with the same goal, which is to create art.

– The advantage is certainly the type of building itself. Industrial spaces have always been attractive to creatives and artists due to high ceilings / roofs, large entrance doors and lots of natural light. This is also the case with the space where I work now. In addition to this, the entire complex with other users from similar spheres creates the possibility of interaction and a special ambience.

More than two decades of creativity in the District

Petar Mirković first encountered the mentioned object in the Novi Sad District more than twenty years ago when he was invited to participate in the creation of a work of art.

– The first encounter took place in 2002, when I received an invitation to design a river yacht and participate in its construction – he remembers. – The invitation came from the Bozoki family, which ran the ‘Anker’ workshop, and as a result of our cooperation, a vessel named ‘Bas 747’ was created. In the following years, I used the possibilities of the aforementioned workshop for the production of my works, until in 2009, a free space for rent appeared, which I rented and turned into my studio. This is the space in which I am now, but which has undergone a complete reconstruction in the past few years. For this reason, I used alternative spaces for two years until last summer when I returned to the adapted facility.

In the years to come, Petar Mirković continued to create and work precisely in the area of the Novi Sad District, once in facilities with difficult conditions for work, and today in renovated spaces for culture.

– Over the course of more than two decades, in the space of the former ‘Petar Drapšin’ complex, now ‘District’, I performed many works. These are primarily drawings and sculptures, as well as various

projects in which I participated. As one of the examples, I can cite the Olympic Clock sculpture, which is currently located on Terazije in front of the Moskva Hotel, and was completely done here, after it was selected as the winning solution in the competition before the Olympic Games in London in 2012, and for the needs of the Olympic Committee of Serbia.

District – from old factories to new spaces for culture

In the Novi Sad District, the sound of machines and tools of this once industrial zone of the city has been replaced by the creative drive of modern creativity. During the years of preparation, as well as during the European Capital of Culture title year, the transformation of the industrial zone, a space that inherits a 100-year-long history of craft heritage on 11,000 square metres, greatly produces results and outlines the future Novi Sad centre of contemporary creativity located by the Danube. Petar Mirković expressed his opinion on the transformation of industrial heritage and old factories into new spaces intended for culture, art and other spheres.

– I am quite well acquainted with the history of this complex, partly through research, and partly through direct stories and testimonies of people who once worked there, and even in the original factory of the Kramer brothers. The transformation of industrial heritage into objects of new purpose is a practice well known all over the world. It is an excellent opportunity to preserve heritage segments, while adding new layers to create new value. I have supported this idea from the start and I myself was one of the participants in the initiative to save these objects and repurpose them into spaces intended for culture and creative activities.

The renewed Novi Sad District will include a total of 12 buildings, representing a model for the restoration and preservation of industrial heritage, not only in Novi Sad, but also in the rest of Europe. The idea of turning an abandoned and unsafe zone into a District gained momentum when Novi Sad found out that it would carry the flattering title of European Capital of Culture. The next question that naturally arises is whether the District can become a new centre of creative industries in Novi Sad.

– I sincerely believe that it can and will become the creative centre of the city – confirms Petar Mirković. – This is one of the few remaining industrial complexes of its type in the city itself with a fantastic micro ambience. I am glad that this potential has been recognized and is developing in the right direction. Our city is expanding every day and the number of inhabitants is growing, so spaces like this are necessary as multifunctional polygons for a wide variety of contents. As it involves a large number of facilities, the process will certainly last until the whole unit begins to function at full capacity. What remains, and it is very important, is to find an adequate model of cultural management that would connect all contents, create new connections with other centres and outline a clear development strategy.

Keeping pace with Europe

According to Petar Mirković, he had the opportunity to see various examples of similar practices and even participated in exhibitions and workshops in some of them.

– Each of those examples is specific due to the context and environment in which it is located – he explains. Some examples are ‘Museum Quartier’ and ‘Wuk’ in Vienna, and ‘Roda Sten’ in Gothenburg, which justified their new purpose a long time ago. In addition to this, I can mention some interesting examples that are currently under construction, i.e. contemporaries of the District in terms of the time of creation. The ‘Gjuteriet’ industrial complex in Malmö where a shipyard building has been transformed into a creative hub or the ‘Lochal’ in Tilburg, a large public library built on the foundations of a former railway hangar.

Mirković believes that one of the key advantages of the District, in addition to the location, is the rounded whole of the complex.

– The slang name ‘Chinatown’ describes the experience of this environment – he explains. – Many different industrial buildings arranged in such a way that within the complex they create streets and squares creating the impression of a small city quarter. The location between the park, city beach and student dormitories acts as a natural environment for such facilities.

Cooperation with other organizations and people located in the District has always been excellent for Petar Mirković, and he is looking forward to new projects and people that he will welcome into his neighbourhood.

– For now, there are few beneficiaries and we are looking forward to that number increasing and interaction developing further. There are a lot of ideas related to future projects. For now, an exhibition of my works within the Kaleidoscope of Culture, together with Tadija Janičić and Boris Lukić, who also create in the District, is certain. In addition, one of the plans is to create an open public reading room that would contain relevant literature in the field of art, design and related fields.

Source: Dnevnik

Photo: Vladimir Veličković

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