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Eda Cufer

Creative walls are part of the creative process. I try to use them that way.

What differentiates MECA from your own college and grad school experience? I went to college, more specifically to Theatre Arts Academy, in former Yugoslavia, which was very different from MECA in terms of its fundamental organization (the European education system emphasizes memory and history from primary school on) but also very similar in spirit because it was an art school (academy), not a university. In the socialist system of former Yugoslavia, you had rigorous qualifying exams in order to be allowed to attend art college/academy. If you passed, your education was paid for by the state. This of course is an enormous difference.

Was there a professor who stands out in your mind as having influenced you? I had outstanding high school professors who deeply influenced my thinking in the realms of literature, philosophy, and writing. During college I was mostly influenced by my peers from the neighboring Visual Arts Academy, with whom I co-founded an art collective (NSK) during my second year of college. Thirty years later, this collective still exists, and my NSK colleagues remain my most important collaborators.

Why do you work in the medium you do? I was trained as a dramaturge, which in Europe is a profession that integrates theory and philosophy with artistic practice and institutional management. So in order for my training as a dramaturge to remain relevant, it is very important for me to always create the possibility of functioning between theory/thinking/discourse and practice/production/creative work. For this reason, I value my ongoing work in Europe within the NSK art collective, as well as teaching at MECA and working with students who are devoted to artistic practice.

What do you do when you hit a creative wall? Creative walls are part of the creative process. I try to use them that way.

How do global events and issues, whether contemporary or past, inform your practice? My personal and professional lives are all about global events and issues. I was born and educated in a socialist country that fell apart during the 1980s. The NSK art collective emerged from within an intense East European reformist political and cultural atmosphere during the 1980s. After the fall of communism and the dissolution of Yugoslavia, which coincided with the end of the Cold War and the beginning of the phenomenon that is generally referred to as “globalization,” I first became a Slovenian citizen, and then a few years ago became a dual Slovenian-American citizen. The main preoccupation of my art collective (which in the 90s renamed itself from NSK to NSK State in Time and started issuing its own passports to manifest the idea of global citizenship) is precisely the exploration of the controversies of identity brought about by globalization—its potentials as well as its constraints.

Have you ever worked / presented outside of the U.S.? Although NSK has exhibited at MOMA, Creative Time, and other U.S. venues, we are a European-based collective and most of our work has been outside of the U.S. We have exhibited and presented in virtually every country of Europe, and at art fairs and biennials throughout the world. One of our recent projects was at the Tate Modern (London), another at the Centre of Contemporary Art in Lagos, Nigeria. I have also worked on exhibitions and performances for sustained periods in Moscow, Istanbul, and Austria.

What country, that you have never visited, would you like to visit? I would like to know better new states such as Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Kyrgyzstan, as well as Mongolia. Why? I know relatively little about these huge parts of the world that connect Europe to Asia and the Middle and Far East. These places are as remote as one can imagine and preserve strong traditional life forms while at the same time have been submitted to Soviet-style oppression and modernization. It’s a very interesting mixture which I believe is very important for understanding the world we live in today.