This Q&A column focuses on the indeterminate borders between off-/project-/artist-run spaces and the people that keep them going [#Off Space Q&A].
Brashnar Creative Project, founded in 2015, is an independent artist owned and operated nonprofit association located in the neighborhood of Hrom on the west side of Skopje, R. of North Macedonia. The co-founders, Ankica Mitrovska (Skopje) and Kenneth Moore (Missouri, U.S.A.), forged a partnership during their post-graduate studies, bringing to life Brashnar’s Artist-in-Residence program, with the common interests of art-making, travel, cultural exchange, and learning about self-sustainable lifestyles.
The residency program began in June of 2016 and hosts international artists, writers, and creatives for month-long sessions from May thru September, offering residents not only the opportunity to experience Macedonian culture through diverse group activities but also providing an artistic space and environment for experimenting and developing projects in connection with the local community. A great example of this comes from September 2019 Artist-in-Resident Mary Ann Loo (Singapore), who depicted all of the essential public gathering spots in the neighborhood in her mural The Dream Tree (15m x 1.5m) located on the wall of the Brashnar Art House, which has also now become a meeting spot for the locals.
Was it a good idea?
What makes a good idea a great idea? Risk, determination, dedication and willingness to act upon your dreams? Brashnar’s vision is to continuously create a self-sustaining environment for artistic expression while enriching Macedonian culture and the local community. Placing the Artist-in-Residence program in a family-oriented neighborhood outside the ‘usual’ art scene was a risky, but much appreciated decision that allowed us to bring international contemporary art closer to the local community, with whom we have extended many invitations to partake in art related projects.
Who/what has held you up?
It’s a combination of Kenneth, Ankica, family, and collaboration with the local community and resident artists that have kept us pursuing the best version of Brashnar.
Is there a limit?
Functional space is the main limit. The Art House has accommodations, studios, and a small yard, yet within this space we encourage artists to challenge those limits through their artistic practices.
What do you need?
The continued support from the local community.
What has been given and what do you take?
Experience. Brashnar’s program is designed to create opportunities for resident artists to experience Macedonian culture and build lifelong friendships.
Is it sustainable?
Brashnar Artist-in-Residence program is interconnected with Macedonia and its culture, which is synonymous with living sustainably. Large vegetable gardens, fruit trees, recycled/reused materials, upcycling and recycling and composting are all integral parts to Macedonia and its people.
What is the shape?
Does it fit?
What makes our Artist-in-Residence program fit within the local community is the implementation of Macedonian culture and sustainable living, along with contemporary art practices as necessary units of the neighborhood.
Future or Past?
Presently, it’s an exchange of culture (old and new traditions) in combination with traditional and contemporary forms of art.
“Brashnar” is a Macedonian term that means “flour man” or “flour merchant” when translated to English.
This profession of dedication and hard work, of living a sustainable lifestyle, is a century-long family tradition for Ankica Mitrovska, who’s great grandparents were flour merchants. This history inspired the birth of Brashnar Creative Project and the Artist-in-Residence as a program grounded in passing along the knowledge of generations to all who are willing and interested to learn.
What do you measure?
Digital or physical?
Brashnar is a physical and personal connection experienced through group dynamics within both new and traditional cultural settings.
Why do you stay?
To continue our vision of developing a creative, ecologically sustainable community with the purpose of enriching and conserving Macedonian culture.
Is it enough?
Perhaps; it’s what we love to do, but we’re continuously open for improvement.
And finally, a new question added in April 2022 in acknowledgement of the continuing Russian war on Ukraine: do you have anything you would like to share?
We hope for peace and resolution
|Place / venue
|Brashnar Creative Project
|Ankica Mitrovska Brashnar Brashnar Creative Project Kathryn Zazenski Kenneth Moore