Curated by Belgrade-based curator Maja Ćirić, the project directly refers to the name of the project space uqbar, the exhibition space, that is inspired by a semi-fictional place from Jorge Luis Borges’ short story "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” (1940). It as an attempt to recall and preserve German sociologist Ulrich Beck’s ideas of “utopian cosmopolitism”. The project stands for a poetical relativity of place and thus the relativity of identities. What might be labeled as (visual) history is hereby re-examined and re-articulated by taking an imaginary and alternative path, in a way that former images and concepts find their place in the present, or interestingly enough, create a dimension of their own. Rather than emerging from a predefined place, that falls under known and existing categories, this exhibition consists of artworks that come together because of their potential to use art as an ultimate means of displacement.
In addition, the Borges quote "I owe the discovery of Uqbar to the conjunction of a mirror and an encyclopedia," and other selected sentences taken from "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius,” acted as a script for the selection of the art works.The artworks match the poetics and the methodology of the story that uses fiction as an alternative reality. Despite a self-critical interpretation that implies that in the arts cosmopolitanism is abstract and an utopian philosophy, the artists are selected because they use fiction to represent cosmopolitanism as a concrete social reality.
On a more practical note, the exhibition consists of videos, films, drawings and prints. Artist Tara Fatehi Irani presents a Wikipedia entry about a fictional battle. Irani, an artist working on the intersection of performance, visual arts and multimedia – across various forms, languages, and cultural contexts, creates narratives around collected and found material, from stories to sound recordings, images, maps, notebooks, letters, video footage and artefacts.
To emphasize the idea of utopian cosmopolitanism, Meggy Rustamova’s video (dis)Location focuses on the dynamics between audience and author, language, and interpretation, as much as the duality between reality and fiction, storytelling and visual narration. The video gives an insight into a personal history without ever loosing sense of the universality.
Basim Magdy’s video Time Laughs Back at You Like a Sunken Ship “introduces images of history, culture and ancient ruin in its place, a film in the traditional sense of the genre, but an alternate space in which to witness time and its collapse into itself."1
Fokus grupa shows a series of drawings, I Sing to Pass Time, in which they expand their long-term research into the “politics of art” by dealing with the idea of a social struggle of the art proletariat. The collective uses artistic strategies that take political shape, without becoming a representational form of “political art.” They concentrate on the relations between art and its public manifestations, in terms of working culture, aesthetics, and social and economic exchange values. Their work investigates the inherent power structures of the art-system. The art work of the collective comprises printed matter, films and installations, works on paper, discussions, workshops and texts.