‘So when I say ‘compost’, it’s more than a joke, though it is also a joke. It’s a refusal to be quite so serious about categories, and to let categories sit a bit lightly with the complexities of the world.’
- Donna Haraway, in an Interview with Sarah Franklin, Sage Journal, 2017
On Saturday 24 July 2021 this collaborative online event, Com- as in Compost, took place as a public conversation and knowledge-sharing session to reflect on relative modes of composting and, in the words of Donna Haraway, ‘letting categories sit lightly’ between interdependent artistic, curatorial and institutional perspectives, held in the context of Compost. Kathrin Böhm: Turning the Heap.
The talk recognises a growing number of cultural practitioners referring to ‘composting’ as a possible and necessary process, and emphasises a ubiquitous and trans-local commitment to resisting a return to 'business as usual’.
Throughout April-May 2021 curators Ana Kovačić and Lea Vene convened a collaborative programme of performances, screenings and workshops at Galerija Nova, Zagreb titled We are the compost. Invited artist Ana Kuzmanić’s research started from the meaning of the word ‘compost’. The prefix 'com-' means 'with', while the prefix 'post-' has a dual connotation of 'what is coming to an end' and 'what is yet to come'. Ana, Lea and Ana will discuss the praxis informing their exhibition-making as-process; reflecting on new work and conversations that unfolded in Zagreb in May.
Galerija Nova is a non-profit city gallery founded in 1975 by artists Ljerka Šibenik and Mladen Galić. Since 2003 it has been programmed by curatorial collective What, How and for Whom/WHW, with an emphasis on researching, documenting, and producing knowledge of modern and contemporary visual art practice and its expanded field.
Reciprocally Kathrin Böhm, Lily Hall and Elvira Dyangani Ose consider intersecting instances from the previous six weeks of composting at The Showroom, where turning the heap has been used as a method for hybrid, serendipitous, invited and chance encounters that have been unfolding around Compost daily, both in the space and online.
Image: Kathrin Böhm, Compost, poster and tape installed at The Showroom, July 2021, re-using material from Böhm’s exhibition andmillionsandmillions at The Showroom in Bonner Road, in 2001. Photo: Dan Weill Photography
Compost is a unique collaborative exhibition that explores over twenty years of artist Kathrin Böhm's practice. For six weeks throughout June and July 2021, a cumulation of objects and methodologies has filled the gallery space at The Showroom, opening up an invitation to contribute to a process of fertiliser-making: to sieve through, to assess, to archive, and to reformulate Böhm’s practice by making use of her methods of production, working one-to-one, collaboratively, and in public.
This was the final event in phase one of Compost, which is now closed to the public throughout August, and will be reopening for a second phase between Wednesday 15 September – Saturday 16 October; opening up a space to start drawing out fertiliser for future use, whilst dissolving the materiality of the work through swapping, buying, giving, taking and trading; enacting possibilities of queering economies discussed in Icebergian Economies of Contemporary Art (The Centre for Plausible Economics).
Kathrin Böhm is a London-based artist working internationally whose practice focuses on the collective re-production of public space; economy as public realm; and the everyday as a starting point for culture.
In 2020 Böhm stopped starting new projects and is currently composting what she has produced as an artist so far, in order to make fertiliser for evolving long-term infrastructures** Company Drinks; The Centre for Plausible Economies; and the Rural School of Economics**, which include partnerships with the Scottish Sculpture Workshop; the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands; and ruangrupa’s ruruHaus in Kassel, Germany.
Ana Kovačić is a curator and a cultural worker based in Zagreb, Croatia. She has an MA in Art History and Comparative Literature from the University of Philosophy in Zagreb. From 2012-20 she ran Galerija Miroslav Kraljevic (G-MK), an independent and non-profit contemporary art platform and gallery in Zagreb. Since 2019 she has been working with What, How and for Whom/WHW as a producer and a curator, and from 2021 she is fully engaged as WHW, with her focus on education within WHW Akademija and curating.
Ana Kuzmanić (1980, Split) is a visual artist. She graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts, the University of Zagreb and received MA from Edinburgh College of Art, the University of Edinburgh, UK. She has been active in Croatia and internationally since 2006. In her work she actively problematises everyday life, examines tensions between the individual and the social, politics and poetics, and searches for the potential for change. Her practice is based on research (archival materials, literature, etc.) and collaborative work. She has received several fellowships and prizes among which the Radoslav Putar Award from The Institute for Contemporary Art, Zagreb (2018). She is an assistant professor at the Faculty of Civic Engineering, Architecture and Geodesy, the University of Split.
Lea Vene (b. 1987, in Zagreb, Croatia) is an independent curator and cultural anthropologist. She obtained an MA in Art History, Cultural Anthropology and Fashion Theory at the University of Zagreb, Croatia. In 2019 she completed two post master courses (Critical Images and R-Lab) at Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm. For the past seven years she worked as a curator in the gallery Miroslav Kraljević in Zagreb. She was one of the organizers of ETNOFILm (Ethnographic film festival) where she curated film, exhibition and educational programs. Since 2015 she curated several different exhibition and conference programs for International Photography Festival Organ Vida. Lea is also a member of association grey) (area, space for contemporary and media art and a co-leader of projects exploring gender aspects of intangible industrial heritage. She is a lecturer in fashion museology and anthropology at the Faculty of Textile Technology, University of Zagreb.