Originally from Northern Macedonia, the visual artist Vesna Stefanovska supports Rouen's candidacy as European Capital of Culture.
Vesna Stefanovska was born in 1973 in Skopje, where she grew up. After completing her studies at the Faculty of Architecture, she graduated with a degree in Sculpture from the Academy of Fine Arts of the Republic of North Macedonia. From 1997 to 2000, she lived in Prague, in the Czech Republic, where she earned a Research MFA in Universal Sculpture and New Media at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design – UMPRUM. She also holds a Master’s degree in Cultural Management from the Institute of European Studies at the Université Paris 8 in France. Ms. Stefanovska has had solo exhibitions in France and North Macedonia and has been part of numerous group exhibitions abroad. She lives in Paris.
Why I agreed to be a supporter?
This commitment resonates with my civic, creative and artistic journey and I am always eager to pursue grander and nobler things.
I have a special relationship with Normandy: It has become a source of energy and inspiration since I arrived in Paris. Especially Rouen, which is where I went on my most extraordinary journey, one that revolutionized my work and my research.
One autumn day in 2002, I suddenly had the opportunity to create one of my major installations on our perception of time and space. Without time to prepare, I found myself rushing to the Gare Saint Lazare ticket office asking for “a ticket for a direct trip to a place about 90 minutes away, returning sometime on the same day” – a rather atypical request for the person manning the ticket counter. The explanation was technical and partly hypothetical, so I looked at the board displaying the pending departures and simply said, “Rouen, please.” A few minutes later, I was filming on the train. When you film the landscape from the window of a moving train in Normandy, it’s like stepping into the ring with the world wrestling champion without ever having wrestled before. You are in the grip of the light. A powerful, omnipresent light that dominates and plays every possible trick on you with a speed of its own – light, rendering impossible any improvisation whatsoever. It wasn’t possible for me to stop or pause the camera, just like there was no way I could make the train go backwards to get a “good shot.” That’s what I call “action filming”: I had to adapt, concentrate and act; when faced with the light, we are…light! (Equipped with a human body and a camera in terms of technical means.) Such was the tension I was feeling when I arrived in Rouen. By the time I came to my senses, I was already far from the station. What a sight! The city delicately unrolled its streets beneath my feet, under a majestic sky in which the light animated the parade of clouds. It was beautiful. Rouen could not be an ordinary city. I eventually arrived in front of the Joan of Arc monument – Hey, I know her – and it was at that moment that my mind made its time-space calculations, bringing me back to myself, very shortly before the departure of my return train.
What I will do to support the bid?
In concrete terms, I will open my network and bring together the dynamics of my artistic work and my creative projects and the dynamics of this bid by supporting existing exchanges and collaborations and initiating new ones. In my experience, culture is plural and dynamic. It’s a process that generates creation, research, collaboration, dialogue – it is long-term and remains a constant value.
The Rouen European Capital of Culture bid opens up an extraordinary space for communication at all levels, as it’s at the heart of a region located in the centre of the continent. Just take a compass and choose Rouen as the centre, put the other arm on the farthest point to the east and draw a circle and you will realize to what degree its location is a catalyst for communication with many cultural corners.
Discover Vesna’s work on http://vesnastefanovska.com/