Neli Ružić: It’s too late to give up

20.6.2024. in 21h

20 June 2024, 9 PM, MMSU – the courtyard façade
21 June 2024, 6 PM, interview with artist Nela Ružić and Irena Bekić, director of the Zagreb Art Pavilion

The latest art intervention in the Art Quarter is an illuminated inscription that says: It’s too late to give up. Placed on the courtyard façade of the Rijeka Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art and resembling urban graffiti, it pulsates like the collective unconscious. It shines upon the neighbourhood, upon Rijeka, but mostly upon the future. Despite these times of crises and setbacks, and the exhausting transition, it says: It’s too late to give up.

The idea for the illuminated urban graffiti evolved when the curatorial concept for Urgency for the 2020 Festival of Contemporary Art in Omiš was discussed, when Neli wrote down, ‘it is too late for everything, but it is also too late to give up’. The first site of the art intervention was the passenger area in the entrance building of the Zagreb Railway Station. It spoke to pedestrians, passengers, migrants, people trying to get somewhere. As the artist says, I wanted to introduce a contemplative and poetic dimension into everyday life, create a space of closeness and care. I was hoping this phrase would serve as empowerment, and give a little hope to those who are in difficult life situations. (…) The only thing that seems to offer refuge is togetherness and solidarity, as well as keen awareness that we are part of intricate and interdependent biological and geological systems.

The subjectless sentence, where implicitly anyone can be the subject, raises hope for a different tomorrow, where we slow down and fix things instead of giving up. Yet, it avoids overly confident stances and grand promises, while also excluding penance and suffering. It addresses the local community, the citizens of Rijeka, invoking perseverance and the joy of togetherness. There is good news! The future of everything doesn’t exist. There is ‘an everything’ but we don’t know what it is, so there’s no point in talking about it … there isn’t any ‘The Future’ graven in stone towards which we inevitably trundle … There are an infinite number of possible futures, and which one we get will depend partly on decisions we make now (Margaret Atwood, ‘The Future of Everything’).

Neli Ružić (Split, Croatia, 1966) is a multimedia artist who explores the perception of time and various aspects of temporality in relation to historical narratives, the intersectionality of personal and collective memory, and migrations. Her artistic practice spans a diverse range of mediums and forms, encompassing interventions in public spaces, installations, video installations, and process-based works that intricately weave archival and documentary practices. She has held numerous solo exhibitions and participated in many exhibitions, projects, and festivals in Croatia, Europe, the USA, and Latin America. She won the second prize, Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb (2016), Conacyt scholarship, Mexico (2012-2013); City of Split scholarship (1996), ArtsLink fellowship (1996) for a residency at the Headlands Centre for the Arts, Sausalito, USA, and the Award of the Youth Biennial, Modern Gallery in Rijeka (1993). Her works are part of the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts in Split, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rijeka, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb, Marino Cettina Gallery in Umag, and Canal Mediateca Caixa Forum in Barcelona. Ružić graduated in painting from the Faculty of Applied Arts in Belgrade and holds a master’s degree from the Facultad de Artes, UAEM, Mexico. In the late 1990s, she moved to Mexico City, where she taught at ENPEG La Esmeralda, Centro Nacional de las Artes, from 2003 to 2012. From 2013, she taught at the School of Fine Arts in Split, where in 2014, she conceptualised and led the School Gallery until 2018. Since 2021, she has been teaching at the Painting Department of the Arts Academy, University of Split. She is a member of the Croatian Association of Fine Artists Split and currently lives and works in Split.

Curator: Ksenija Orelj
Support: City of Rijeka

Photo: Jasensko Rasol