Balkanising Taxonomy - A symposium & an exhibition supported by the Constance Howard Resource and Research Centre in Textiles and Graduate School, Goldsmiths, University of London

Date: 27th October – 27th November 2008
Venue: Constance Howard Resource Centre in Textiles & Kingsway Corridor, Goldsmiths
Opening times: 10.30 am – 4.30 pm, Monday – Thursday by appointment
Phone: 0207 717 2210, Email:

_Private View
27th October 2008, 6 – 8 pm

6.15_Welcoming presentation – Djordje Balmazovic, Serbian art collective Skart:
‘My embroideries’– reusing traditional crochet making for private social statements


This exhibition posed many questions in relation to the impulse of collecting Balkan artefacts. The collector subject is mediating the relationship between East and West by manipulating the framework within which the textiles are presented, and hence directs the dialogue and tension between the two worlds. In this dichotomy, however, the curator exposed the paradigm s/he works from as a positionality, but also as a fragile space within which the objects were captured.
Her/his narrative is formed by grouping, and by creating an identity of Balkanness, recognisable nowadays by conflicts. The impulse of taxonomising is justified by questioning the impulsiveness of others and is constructed as a binary – archiving against chaotic existence. In this argument, wild Balkan objects play the role of the other.
If the audience is led through the understanding of this via labelling, division and distance, they were not engaging with the objects in an active and creative way. Curator interpreted the objects as violated by navigation and wanted to put their perception on an equal footing with the choosers and the viewers, so the misconceptions of the Balkans do not continue.
The curator believes that the desire of the collector to protect against decay is often wrapped up in the fear of the other and s/he expresses that by trying to contain, to tame the objects, but that disables her/himself from understanding them. The process of classification, however comforting, cannot last. The nature of objects on show is inherent. They live through the cultures they were formed in, and as that society progresses, transforming itself into various shapes, they start to slip out from the domestic environment into the public realm. If classified, they become invisible and the slippage incomprehensible, but if left to live as they are, they might provide more than data: a snippet of history.

Curator Nela Milic

Female dress

Female Dress

Dress detail

Dress Detail