Nada Prlja makes work that challenges the critical discourse surrounding issues of politics, nationalism, the transitional experiences of ex-socialist countries (and their citizens), human rights, and migration. By adopting a specific site’s historical and political context or by implementing a certain set of social conditions, her work often varies in the choice of media deemed most appropriate, from installation to film, performance to public interventions. This versatility is demonstrated in a number of new and recreated works for Innsbruck International.
HOW CAN THEY BE SO SURE OF THEMSELVES? is an arrangement of re-purposed wooden chairs that have been etched and engraved with fragments of text. The quotes are from the German writer Carolin Emcke’s book-length essay ‘Against Hate’, which counters the partisanship of extreme political ideologies with a call for fluidity, pluralism, and nuance. The integration of selected phrases upon the chairs, and their staging within the Welcome-Center, infers a pedagogical mission, an instructive immersion in a new system of learning.
STOP THE WAR AGAINST IMMIGRANTS presents an assortment of broken and battered political banners. Advocating support for the rights of migrants and minorities, the installation evokes the aftermath of a demonstration, while remaining ambiguous towards its efficacy. Their disarray implies a sense of violence and conflict, as if cast aside in the face of armed resistance.
These concerns are echoed in another work by Prlja; AUSTRIA(N). This intervention in Innsbruck’s public takes the form of multiple hand-painted T-shirts, bearing the title in the native languages of immigrant communities. Like Prlja’s other works, they challenge fixed notions of national identity, proposing an(other) definition of what it means to be Austrian while, at the same time, bracketing that identity as something separate or segregated. Throughout the biennial, the shirts will be seen on Innsbruck’s buildings – Keep your eyes open!