Please introduce yourself, describe what your artistic practice is focused on at the moment?
My name is Kemil Bekteši, a Bosnian/Serbian/Kosovo visual artist. My artistic practice often deals with topics related to identity, geopolitics and nationality. However, my most recent work has shifted from dealing with broader socio-political issues to exploring the impact that economic, political and historical turmoil has on the constitution private sphere and individual histories. By focusing on the intimate history of my family, I want to establish a poetic and conceptual artistic language, rather than the radical, explicit and documentary expression I have used so far.
What are your real and desired conditions for art production?
Well, for starters I know that my actual conditions are quite far from my desired conditions... Currently, my artistic production is mostly funded by myself. I have a full time job which is necessary to pay for my studio, materials and equipment to work with. It still doesn't bother me, but I also see potential problems in the future. My studio is located in Sarajevo, so being in Sarajevo is not so bad as far as artistic production is concerned, because a lot of things are much cheaper than, let’s say in central Europe, but on the other hand, not all the necessary things are so easily available.
As for my desired conditions, hmmm, I think about it often, but I can't really put together a concrete answer to that question. I would like to not have to think about the production of the work at the same time as I develop the artistic work. This can sometimes be stressful and limiting.
What are your experiences of collaborative art and educational practices so far?
After graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts, I didn't have many opportunities to be a part of something like the WHW Akademija. I'm very excited about this program and can't wait to hear and see everything it has to offer. I am one of the co-founders of the contemporary art gallery Manifesto here in Sarajevo, and that has taught me a lot. Of course, I knew how important work in the community was, as well as education in the community, but with that project I saw and experienced it. In addition to the fact that I saw these things, I am even more pleased that my fellow citizens understood this.
How do these times of economic, social and ecological crises affect your art practice?
Well, as I already mentioned in the previous answer, the economic crisis affects my artistic practice because, first of all, I have to have a full-time job. In the geographical position where I am, we do not find much support for artists from institutions. All my previous artistic production was economically limited. Being an artist here is not being someone who, in the eyes of the majority, is an active member of society, but someone who is economically privileged so as to want and be able to create. It's a vicious circle. Especially now, when inflation is increasing, it seems that because of it comfort is lost. Every day there are questions about whether you will be fired, whether your work is enough to avoid being declared an economic redundancy, and whether your rent will be higher as of tomorrow... All these things give you limited freedom, even comfort, although comfort has not been great so far either.
As for the social crisis, that's something I'm unfortunately used to. Through my layered national identity, I often encounter it. It probably affects me the most. My work is the best representation of it, in ways of how social and political norms are around here. As someone who is named Kemil Bekteši, there are always questions raised, and I often think of how my name wouldn't be questioned somewhere else in the world. If there were no social and geo-political structures, would my national identity even matter?
Regarding the environmental crisis, I don't think most artists (myself included) are aware of how much they contribute to it when it comes to the materials they use in their practice. It's something I think about and try to find solutions in my practice. I think we need a lot of education on this matter.
Name about 10 words/associations/notions that first come to your mind when you think of engaged eco-social participatory practices?
Right off the bat, without overthinking it: Bodies, posthumanism, unlearning, emerging, deconstruction, heritage, oblivion, intimacy, bravery, decolonization.