Many people - many views

North Macedonia
Jasmina Kotevska
Intangible, Natural, Tangible
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„Many People – Many Views” is an adventure into exploration and education of the Macedonian Cultural heritage and the influences of other European cultures meeting in this part of the Balkans in different periods of history. The storytellers are ten psychiatric patients hospitalized in the Psychiatric Hospital in Demir Hisar, a city situated in the west part of Macedonia. It is multilayered story and gives a view to Cultural Heritage from the perspective of this group of marginalized people - psychiatric patients.

The story began in 2018, when a lecture about the art of psychiatric patients was given in the House of Culture in Demir Hisar for first time. The audience including members of the local community and psychiatric patients from the nearby hospital were introduced with the works of art from the Art Brut Collection in Lausanne, Switzerland and Hans Prinzhorn Collection which are today displayed in the University of Heidelberg Psychiatric Clinic in Germany. As an outcome from this lecture, in the following month a three-day photography class was organized for a group of ten patients in the Psychiatric Hospital. During the classes as a way of art therapy, the patients were introduced with the origins, the history and the development of the photography, especially with the work of the Manaki Brothers, the first photographers in Southwest Balkans. They are important part of the European history of photography and motion picture. They worked and lived in the nearby city, Bitola. For the short duration of the course, the patients learned how to make photos with analog camera and their works resulted in publishing a catalog.

European Dimension

Based on the European values on respect for freedom, democracy, equality and respect for human rights, including the rights of people belonging to minorities, the story incorporates active participation of a marginalized group of people and uses the method of education, learning skills, art and culture, with a main purpose of exploring the influences of different European cultures to the local heritage. Another goal of the story is to enrich the European collection of Art Brut (known as well as Outsider art). It is a step forward towards the inclusion of marginalized group of people into the society as well as into the cultural life of the community.

Legal body/representative

Center for creative industries - NEBO, Suvodol - Demir Hisar

Jasmina Kotevska president of the Center for creative industries - NEBO, Suvodol

Description of the project

The project will be realized with a group of four to five psychiatric patients, as well as two photographers and one art historian, who will run the activities of the group. The story will take place in the Psychiatric Hospital in Demir Hisar and in the City of Ohrid. The project is consisted of three parts: Ten-day photography workshop, where the patients will improve their photography skills. Three-day stay in Ohrid, where they will explore the cultural heritage (tangible, intangible and natural). At the same time, they will have the opportunity to create their own story as a contribution to the promotion of this jewel of the Macedonian cultural and natural heritage as part of the common European heritage. The last part of the project is an exhibition of the created works (photos, drawings and paintings) that would be displayed in the House of Culture in Demir Hisar; The Cultural Center in Bitola; The Psychiatric Hospital in Bardovci Skopje and The Psychiatric Hospital in Negorci. Along with the exhibition, a catalog will be published with the created works of art, including a reference towards the creative potentials and the art of the psychiatric patients. The real adventure of the story starts during the patients three day visit of Ohrid, which will give them the chance to explore the Cultural Heritage as a part of the common European Heritage situated in Ohrid. Our storytellers will have the chance to get introduced with the Cultural and the Natural Heritage and in same time to create their story through different mediums of expression (photos, paintings, drawings) and their work to present it to the community. The City of Ohrid is one of only 28 sites that are part of UNESCOs World Heritage, that are Cultural as well as Natural sites. In antiquity the city was known under the ancient name “Lychnidos”, literally meaning “precious stone that emits light”. Rich with natural resources as the Ohrid Lake, the National Park Galicica, the springhead Black Drim and the volcano Duvlo in the village Kosel, Ohrid held a tremendous cultural heritage as well. It is said that Ohrid once had 365 churches, one for each day of the year and has been referred to as a "Jerusalem of the Balkans". It is a place of birth of the autonomous Orthodox Church known as Archbishopric of Ohrid. It is the birthplace of the first Slavic University in Europe founded by St. Clement in the late 9th and the early 10th Century. Ohrid is a place with many archeological sites from antique times, early Christian and middle age churches, Islamic monuments and picturesque old city architecture. The most representative national as well common European Cultural Heritage sites are: the Church of St. Sophia, first cathedral church which holds fresco paintings from 11th till 14th Century and represents a visual document of the relation between the Byzantium and the Roman Church before their split in 1054; The Church Holy Mother of God – Peribleptos from 1295, monument where through the fresco paintings from the most famous Byzantine painters Michael and Eutychius, where we can see that the renaissances begin inside the Byzantine art long before Giotto; The Monastery St. Naum, which is devoted to the Saint Naum a disciple of the Saints Cyril and Methodius, located 29 km from the city. Built in 16th Century on the place of the old church which the Saint had formed in early 10th Century. One legend say that in the Monastery there was a room where people with mental illnesses were healed (some kind of first mental asylum) and so one in the tradition the Monastery is well known as a place of spiritual healing place.

Legacy of the project

The positive side of the project is the activating and engaging of the marginalized group, as well as their inclusion in the process of sharing of the cultural heritage. It would also ensure fulfilling of their human rights to active participation within the community's social and cultural life. “Many people – many views” is a pilot project that could become an example for further development and practice in activating of the marginalized groups in the life of the community. We believe that the story will bring a positive outcome in the change of general perception of all marginalized groups and ensure their potential creative expression and social inclusion. Unlike Europe, where the marginalized groups are included in the social life of the community, in Macedonia these vulnerable groups are placed at a lower marginal level. Through our story we try to implement the European method of inclusion, giving equal rights to everyone in the process of sharing and creation of the history, culture, art and heritage. If the final result will be as satisfying and positive as we believe it will be, this practice will become a regular basis in future for further work with the marginalized groups in the two other psychiatric hospitals in the Country. Therefore when the circumstances change, the abilities of these groups will become visible for the rest of the community and these people would receive appreciation and respect for which they are, becoming one with the all other members of the community.

Budget breakdown

The approximated financial amount of the project is calculated around 9.500 euros, where 2.500 euros are our contribution for the project and 7.000 euros are requested as a grant. If the grant is received the budget will be spent for the purposes and the needs for the realization of the project. The finances will be spent on travel expenses (organizer, mentors, travel to Ohrid); accommodation (mentors and the group during the travel to Ohrid), materials for work (camera films, colors and materials for painting), printing (photos for exhibition, catalog 300 samples offset printing, posters and other promotional materials); scanning films; graphic design and other needs for complete realization of the project. Our financial contribution towards the realization of the project is consisted of voluntary work of individuals, photographic equipment (analog cameras, studio equipment) working space supply, providing exhibition space, sound system and video projector for the exhibition of the project, all in total amount of 2.500 euros.

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