Recent projects:
Seesaw Play-Grow, Biennial of Architecture in Venice 2010
seesawing with the one, different than yourself, and walking the plants, different than yourself, opens possibilities for communication in space / communication with the space and the beauty of encountering the unknown.
Walk the plant! See you on the seesaw!
little arrow The announcement of the written off, Neime Reč
little arrow Seesaw Play-Grow - Impressum
little arrow Links (some writings about the work and a video too)
*klackalica (serbian)=seesaw
Škart is a collective founded in 1990 at the Faculty of Architecture in Belgrade.
While experimenting through their work, they focus primarily between the medium of poetry and design.

"Architecture of the human relationships" is their main concept.
Through the constant flux within the collective, present since its very beginning, members collaboratively work to develop new values.

They are particularly capable through the process of making, to embrace 'beautiful' mistakes and tirelessly strive to combine work with pleasure.

little arrow Press: Armatura

Seesaw Play-Grow

XII Mostra Internazionale di Architettura, Biennale di Venezia 2010
Pavillion di Serbia

little arrow plant-o-biles:
produced by Skills Division, Beograd
assistants: Vaso Lukić, Filip Zarić, Goran Marinić
little arrow seesaws:
produced by Ban Drvo, Debeljača
little arrow choir PROBA
ARMATURA, architectural hymn
choir members: Aleksandra Vilotić, Ana Karlović, Danilo Šolović, Đordje Ilić, Filip Zarić, Goran Marinić, Maja Konstantinović, Midica Milovanović, Milica Vilotić, Tamara Milanović

Snežana Skoko, Sanja Stamenković (textile), Saša Djukičin (web design), Vladimir Brašanac, Čedomir Kovačev (translations, web design), Dušica Parezanović (documentation), Darka Radosavljević (text), Eric Eng (translations)

Ministry of Culture, Republic of Serbia
Nebojša Bradić, Minister

exhibition commissioner:
Jovan Mitrović

Branko Pavić
Branislav Mitrović
Dejan Miljković
Lazar Kuzmanov
Goran Vojvodić

Serbian Union of Architects
Association of Belgrade Architects

executive team:
Jagoda Stamenković
Maja Mišković
Maja Gavrić

Ministry of Culture, Republic of Serbia
printed by Standard 2, Beli Potok

ARMATURA (arccitectural hymn), premiere, Faculty of Architecture, Belgrade 1993
This article was commissioned by independent news magazine VREME, but has never been published on the pretext of its “excessive length”.


On a cold, rainy, hopeless evening, a select few and those in the know set out to attend an event which they did not know much about, except for a puzzling information in the invitation which read, “Premiere performance of the Architectural Hymn – a love-technical poem, Faculty of Architecture, Belgrade, 8 November 1993, lecture room 301, 9 p.m., ARMATURE, armature, that’s what bonds us together…”, along with the score, and the names of participants, producers and assistants.

The central hallway of the Technical Faculties building was festively decorated with banners and posters (the Armature’s graphic identity was the work of Branko Pavić, a graphic artist and assistant professor of fine arts at the Faculty of Architecture), but were it not for a lad who was giving directions waving his Armature flags, hardly would anyone find the 'clandestine meeting place' in the attic of the awe-inspiring building in the Revolution Boulevard.

Members of audience were entering the lecture room in small groups, taking turns every fifteen minutes. Those who were patiently queuing, waiting for their turn, were baffled by the change that they noticed on the faces of people who were coming out. And the people coming out had smiles on their faces, being truly in a good mood and content that they ventured out of their homes in the first place and into an uncertainty.

Each of five performances of the Architectural Hymn, composed by Ana Kara-Pešić, observed the same scenario. However, those who were present at the first performance fared the best. At the very beginning, after the introduction of participants by Dragan Protić, a member of ŠKART group, the organiser and creator of the event, the dean of the Faculty of Architecture, Mr. Mihailo Živadinović, at his personal request, announced prior to the first Armature performance, read out an introductory address:
Armature bonds us together with a steely embrace of its iron heart. It bonds us together with its bars, stirrups, hooks, anchors and wires. It may be: pre-stressed, strained, compressed, twisted, cranked, spirally twisted, suspended. It resists stretching, failure, breaking, torsion, shearing stress and other Fascist elements.
ARMATURE – a whole poetry in a single word. At the end of this tiring speech, let’s exclaim in unison:

The audience, equipped with special paper caps and small flags, were thrilled by the scene. While Mr. Živadinović was speaking, members of URGH (thrash/speed metal or something like that) band were on the stage, horn players above them, and to the side – girls from “Josip Slavenski” music school choir, while underneath the dean’s feet, there was Mr. Marc Hawker, an architect and body artist from Scotland (whose life, apparently, would be significantly changed by his one-month stay in Belgrade), lying. To the left, for the duration of the entire show, lay actor Miodrag Mišić was drowsing in an armchair, and to the right, there were Mikrob’s family members, standing (a week before the Armature premiere, Saša Marković, an artist performing most often under his pseudonym of Mikrob (Microbe), but as of recently also as Bridegroom, when asked what his greatest wish would be that a shooting star could make come true, said he would want a wife and a beautiful child; Armature made his wish come true).

Under ŠKART’s discreet guidance, the hymn performance was progressing from the URGH’s version of the hymn, while tireless Mr. Hawker was grappling with a red laser beam, to the horn players and “Josip Slavenski” music school choir, whose members were ardently clutching reinforcing bars, taking occasional pauses in singing so that another lay actor, Goran Savčić, could recite the lines, “Had I lived in that building, I would’ve incessantly, through an open window, caressed the façade… Had I lived in that building… Had I lived”.

After the performance, the audience were leaving the Technical Faculties building, taking away proudly the Armature paper caps and small flags, which they probably, even now, keep with special reverence in a prominent place.

Irrespective of how strange, eccentric, humorous, emotional, extraordinary, dream-like and removed from everyday drudge what happened that evening may have looked like, Armature is yet another argument in favour of the proposition that a very distinct phenomenon is in the making in the nineties in the contemporary culture of Belgrade City.

From the seventies, when engagement in conceptual art was the issue of one’s critical stance, through the eighties, which featured expression, carefree attitude and lightness, we have reached the nineties in which art (creativity) is the only way out, a way to preserve one’s personality. Of course, this refers to those persons by way of whose sensibilities certain time is recognised and remembered, and who are smart and strong enough in present circumstances to endeavour to protect themselves from the society without a system, collapse of morality, brutal daily sensations, and physical and psychological injuries.

In this seething Balkan chaos, a couple of years ago, ideas started cropping up, after which semi-illegal art projects were timidly coming to the fore, and they laid foundation for a new parallel cultural scene, a grassroots and disregarded phenomenon, which is even being undermined by the society at large, by both those in power and the opposition. Implemented projects like PRIVATE-PUBLIC by LED ART and URBAZONA in a wider sense, or ARMATURE in a more narrow sense, form a new art wave instigated by artists themselves, which, for the most part, propagates through, or relies on, like-minded individuals and those with suppressed, pent-up creative energy.

Anyhow, the Armature premiere performance was supposed to take place two years ago at the Applied Arts Museum’s Architectural Salon, but was put off because of a potential scandal that might break out, or, as the museum’s curator later put it, “They were too radical for that time”. Have the tastes and art scene changed so substantially in these past two years? Perhaps they have. A novel situation where artists join forces, support and encourage one another, rallying round in the process other benevolent ‘operatives’, creates conditions for different assumptions of an artistic action. It would be both hard and pretentious to attempt to classify and interpret this phenomenon (which is mildly reminiscent of the Russian art experiment’s experience) from the history-of-art viewpoint.
What may be singled out as indicative is that the existing situation has given rise to, above all, a sociological necessity for the formation of new groups for the purpose of satisfying spiritual needs, devoid of aspirations to gain potential societal or material acknowledgement. A new possibility in contemporary art has been created – full freedom of expression and self-responsibility vis-à-vis passing time and history. In a position of isolation, there is no room for a compromise.
Darka Radosavljević
15 November 1993


Almost seventeen years after the premiere at the Faculty of Architecture in Belgrade, in late August 2010, in a completely different setting, a different audience will have an opportunity to experience a new performance of Armature – Architectural Hymn – a love-technical poem. In Giardini, ARMATURE opens the ŠKART art group’s exhibition-project named SEASAW PLAY-GROW - Non-Equilibrium Ground, representing Serbia at the Venice Biennial of Architecture. This time PROBA (=REHEARSAL) choir, consisting of former HORKEŠKART choir members and featuring several 1993 premiere participants, will perform Armature.

More than sixteen years on, Armature has withstood all the pressures, strains, ruptures, breaking, torsion, corrosion…

Audience and performers, who were present at the premiere of Armature – Architectural Hymn – a love-technical poem, constituted a particular social network of, both then and now, “different” persons reluctant to accept stereotypical models and solutions, but willing to search and create seemingly unusual combinations of socially acknowledged and unacknowledged forms. Albeit completely contrary to the exacting characteristics of an armature, the unusual network based on underlying spirituality, shared sensibility and commitment persists to date. Parts of the network are scattered over all walks of life; some go, and then come back; some grow stronger, and when some of them wear themselves out, they are replaced by new ones.

ŠKART ARMATURE comprises a multitude of little/big people. It is hard to make an estimate, but about a couple of thousand people all over the world are participating in its creation and maintenance.

Ever since Dragan Protić and Đorđe Balmazović set up ŠKART art group, as a product of quarrels / dialogues between two personalities, in a derelict graphics studio at the Faculty of Architecture in Belgrade, the group was alternately expanding and contracting.

Žole and Prota are an odd couple. While Prota is making an effort to find time and show understanding for everything, to do favours even when he cannot possibly do them, to get in touch, to agree and forget, “hovering” somewhere in-between, Žole looks at the world around him in a more rational way, with a down-to-earth approach, and seeks to be in control. On the face of it, they are totally different and could hardly be envisaged as individual authors set apart.

It has never been clear who exactly, except for Žole and Prota, makes up the Group. The question is whether it really is a group or it has evolved into a movement in which many partake developing and supporting what these two authors manage to kick-start through distinctive designer enterprises and initiation of various artistic actions.

By intertwining graphics and performance, by involving many contributors and associates, they are relentlessly creating a unique environment consisting of carefully selected (public) space, human energies and experiences. Their “public works” in the border area of art and activism always target very accurately crucial societal problems drawing attention to (un)common people – our neighbours, friends, passers-by…

From Armature – Architectural Hymn, through music performance piece of Lili Marlon where the main actors were choirs of pensioners and sailors, and the creation of Horkeškart or Proba choirs, to the present-day project of Pesničenje (Poetree), a platform for take-off and landing of all sorts of creative individuals has been in the making.

Whatever ŠKART group members did, it would come to life through the presence and participation of others. Many of their graphic design works that arose from projects like “Sadness”, “Your Shit, Your Responsibility” or “Coupons” are today the artefacts which themselves speak about a certain point in time of a society. Each of them tells a long story seasoned with destinies and movements of nameless persons who have been zealously promulgating and sharing them as verbal messages moulded into small visual objects.

The majority of the actions performed had their lifetime, the beginning and the end. Armature is something else, something more comprehensive. Throughout all these years it has been peeping out every now and then.

When ŠKART set up HORKEŠKART singing group in 2000, one of the first actions took place once again at the Faculty of Architecture. Unannounced, en masse, they stormed into a crowded, astounded amphitheatre to complement the lecture on metal constructions with a concert starting with ARMATURE. Later on, in 2005 and 2006, ARMATURE was formally performed in the same place, in the grand amphitheatre, on the occasion of presentation of matriculation books to first-year students.

From the very beginning, albeit performed at the Faculty of Architecture, ARMATURE was addressing a much wider audience. Like architecture which makes no sense without the presence of people, this love-technical poem makes no sense without those who make up the armature. And these are the kind of people who were there in November 1993, in those troubled times, at the Faculty of Architecture.

It is a troubled time today as well. It is different, but troubled nonetheless. There are threats no more of physical injuries that might be inflicted by the then raging Balkan war chaos, but psychological injuries and immorality are clear and present threats spreading beyond this geographical region. The need for communal spirit in mental oases is even bigger. Hence, increasingly more people take refuge in them. Art has come out of galleries and museums, and calls on us to join in, to participate, to help find its free, its own alter ego.

The present-day ŠKART art group has many faces and facets. ŠKART is “Proba”, and “Pesničenje/Poetrying”, and when women and men are sitting in city squares embroidering “Kuvarice”. It is something like a movement consisting of a plethora of creative individuals who wish to partake in this informal community.

If ŠKART is a movement, then Armature is its hymn. Just like the hymn itself chants, “ARMATURE, armature, that’s what bonds us together”.

Darka Radosavljević Vasiljević
1 August 2010


Typically, pieces of white linen embroidered with idyllic scenes and traditional proverbial sayings that used to decorate kitchen and bathroom walls in rural areas.

The announcement of the written off

Who has ever heard the cracking of an awakening cone? - P. R.
Poet is a wondering in the world – Antun Gustav Matoš

The current architecture biennial in Venice brings us a stunning surprise: in one of the pavilions poetry is literally seen as the building material of Architecture. In the world of financial terror, megalomaniac investments and the begging rich, someone has opened the doors of the Universe. And let it flow in.

All those in favor of a déclassé, or more precisely, a scrap voyage, were faced with a question: to what altitudes is the aircraft/see-saw of the Škart (scrap) group for the execution of poetry taking us on its 20-year long flight over mediocrity? It is obvious that we cannot speak about them within the established value coordinates since scrapography pushes the limits of everything attached to heart of the (bourgeois) consciousness. This is why on the road of the unnamable a temporary name might suit it best: the politics of active self-governing non-alignment or the come-back (return) of the written off (the scrap). It is simply impossible to place the active poetic and collective thought of Škart, and all those who practice it more and more (through different media) every year, in any of the existing fields of cultural hierarchy, curator systematization or any of the administrative fields of traditional modern art and aesthetics. Thus, consistently advocating the classlessness and free of charge principle, the Škartists reduced their own “c(l)atalog” at the latest architecture exhibition to the size of a pocket poetry book (notebook), and made it available to everyone as empty (all the pages are equal, there is no meta-discourse). Škart is not (just) a work, not (just) a group, not (just) a movement; it is a group-related and uncountable phenomenon (it is impossible to know exactly who is at any time “a part of Škart”), and it is a movement only in the sense of mobilizing those who made an appointment with the fractional and the unknown. Because to accept the collective scrap poetic substance as raw material and a path to the necessary emancipation and freedom of all, which it calls for, which it introduces and announces, means to head towards a world without divisions into: surplus and Value, Workers and idlers, Poets and (would-be) poets, Artists and braggarts, chanteuses and singers, Designers and consumers, philosophers and ”philosophers”, Stagers and spectators, Letters and type-setters, Specialists and Amateurs, Professional Architects and semi-skilled masters of the new reality – it means to accept scrap methodology as a live, truly non-aligned, completely authentic and innovative figure in the forthcoming change of relationships in art and in the world. The world where no one is better or worse at something because everyone is capable of everything, and all of us of Poetry, i.e. the distilling transformation of everything that exists.

For all these reasons and despite its presence in the architecture pavilion in Venice this year, the active collective substance of the art group Škart is not just architecture, not just music, not just literature, not just poetry, not just a festival of rhetoric and poetry, not just a (free-hand) sketch, not just reinforcement, not just graphic modeling, not just sculpture, not just a choir, not just composing, not just embroidery, not just graphic work, not just work on the working class, not just faith in godlessness, not just taking refuge in the refugees’ camp, not just work, not just pleasure, not just thought, not just matter, not just endless learning and sharing of knowledge – but all of this together, both sharing and freedom of the forthcoming freedom of all, so that everyone and everything can be displaced from their place, and feel as a protagonist in the final abolition of the division of labor and the historically allocated roles. The worker who assembles a see-saw becomes an artist, and the poet becomes a worker (“the uniform” of the pavilion and everyone in it is a worker’s blue: with Workerartist written on it, together). The Škart activity of sharing, assembling and togetherness, the possibility of being many at the same time, and not just the rigid identitarian One, to everyone who wishes to join it, thus becomes a void that subjectivates; it turns former objects of art into subjects according to its own present conditioning.

By all kinds of architecture of layered and transformed notions that once, before them, used to be called books, see-saws, gardens, hymns, choirs, exhibitions, works of art, laws, printing errors, shopping coupons (by wondering, among other things), the fighters for the return of scrap (write-off), tear the painted backdrop of the existing reality forever making place for everyone, without an audition or competition, without a selection or limits, who wants to enter, think, create, change and expand, this world, here and now. By poetry. In the sense that has been repeated many times: “Poetry inevitably and unconditionally engages the one who practices it, in the direction of revolutionary commitment”, and the Lautréamontean cry that poetry must be made and possessed by ALL. In Škart architecture, there are no circles or squares, galleries or arenas; there are new geometrical principles at work. This is why the action and contemplative unity of the Škart reinforcement is a powerful way of rising above mediocrity: the pretentiousness and complacency of academism, conformism, anachronism, bureaucracy, elitism, l'art pour l'artism and firefighting art of any type…The Škart active practical thought crackles. Until the moment of the final awakening of everything: including the cones in the Venetian Giardini. The spores and sporangiums then released will be the seeds of a future forest of meaning in the existing furrows of the self-sufficient and insufficient – the complacent herbarium of all kinds of bourgeois mannerisms.

*We would like to thank the selectors of the architecture competition for Serbia’s representative at the current Biennial of Architecture in Venice, who in the twilight of expert and traditional knowledge, when nobody knows what to do with waste in art (which section of art?), managed to recognize in architecture the universal quality of scrap as connective tissue of the future. That which can become everything out of nothing. And someone out of something.

Neime Reč (Not-a-Name Word)

We all make mistakes

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing – attributed to Edmund Burke

How can we be useful as artists? Djordje Balmazovic, one half of Skart and I were discussing this on the bus the other day going from Skart’s temporary home in sheltered accommodation for elderly people in Stoke Newington, into the centre of town. Djordje mentioned the above quote and shortly afterwards a man sitting behind us turned round to join in our conversation. He recognised the quote and admitted he had been engrossed in our conversation for some time and felt the urge to join in.

After leaving the bus and our fellow traveller, we instantly regretted for not inviting him along to the last event Skart were hosting at SPACE that week as part of their retrospective and residency in London. Such chance encounters between strangers seem to encapsulate the way Skart have found their own way of being useful, by developing unpredictable relationships in otherwise anonymous and isolated social environments.

My own initial encounter with Skart was in their studio in a snowy Belgrade in March 2005. While I was there they showed me a prototype of an invention by a young person they had been working with in one of their workshops. It was a double-umbrella: two umbrellas with each of one of their edges sewn together. The double-umbrella enables two people to walk along in the rain talking to each other quite comfortably. As with our chance encounter on a bendy bus in London, this child’s invention reflects Skart’s approach to turning awkward situations into an excuse for a chat and finding opportunities to learn something from strangers who might one day become friends. As with the double-umbrella, their poetry is pragmatic and their aesthetic is communal.

While their retrospective exhibition consists of posters, documents, designs and embroideries, these are the ephemera of social encounters. Design, embroidery and poetry have become the tools of their trade in activating human encounters and social relationships. Conversations are starting points which have no set path. In the case of their current residency in sheltered accommodation in Stoke Newington, Skart are listening in a different language. Here, two Serbian men with broken English are conversing with a group of elderly men and women with strong Afro-Caribbean accents. For two months they have entered the communal life of this community; joining in their evening games of dominoes and regular morning gatherings when the residents eat fresh fruit, listen to loud reggae and dance in their chairs while the TV quietly performs house makeovers in the background. All the while, Skart are listening to the Afro-Caribbean cadence; capturing their capricious memories, sayings and banter. Skart then rework these words into two-line rhymes and illustrations painted onto board in their flat upstairs in Peppie Close. There is something absurd about these temporary encounters that travels through into these painted boards that are presented back to the residents and that will adorn the walls of their home once Skart have moved on.

The thoughts and words of the people they meet are the ingredients to which Skart add spices, cook and serve back to their raconteurs to enjoy. Ideally, Skart say, everyone would be preparing their own meals and acting as their own cooks, but for now they have this opportunity of a residency to act as the chefs concocting poetic recipes of memories, thoughts and words of wisdom from and for this community of Afro-Caribbean elderly people in North London.

Skart have this temporary platform and want to share it with this community. Opening up and sharing such a platform involves an element of risk as it implies a responsibility to respond to change and transformation among the people who use it. While the language of social inclusion and participation may be used to describe the funding that has enabled Skart’s residency to take place, such platforms often evolve in the interest of those supporting the platform, controlling its movement and those who step onto it. There is a fear that such platforms are in danger of controlling, framing and suppressing those people they aim to serve. The self-importance of the platform initiators can take over and the sharing of space, knowledge and power can be forgotten, as collaboration becomes a tokenistic word for using people to further ones own career. The desire to create a smooth, streamlined, cohesive service, product or platform can sometimes be at the expense of taking the consequences of inviting participation seriously.

It is with this in mind, that Skart’s retrospective could be seen as a slight contradiction in relation to the philosophy of their practice. While it is a joy to see snapshots of Skart’s busy lives over the last twenty years, something to pore over, learn from and an exhibition I urge all my friends to see, the very format of a retrospective solo show could also be criticised as an exercise in self-promotion (worthy of accolade in the competitive world of the culturepreneur). The presentation cannot help but build the brand of Skart as the men to do the (socially engaged) job. It is a great big juicy advert for their collaborative, design, conversational skills. Their collective working practice contests and challenges this act of self-promotion, however, as they nervously embrace the production of designed poetic pieces as ‘end products’ while what is of equal, if not more significance to them is the social encounter that leads to that act of production.

For participants to become their own producers, be it through music, poetry, design, art or embroidery, takes time, patience and continuity. This has happened with some of the encounters Skart have initiated, such as with embroiderers they started working with who now make their own poems and illustrations, embroidering them in their own languages; and with Horkeskart, the choir they initiated which has gone on to organise compose and perform on their own. A successful outcome of their work, then, is when Skart are no longer needed. I would say that in general, a sign of successful cultural democracy is when artists become obsolete, when people can learn, laugh and share their own experiences, politics and ideologies through such acts as poetry, embroidery and design.

For this way of working to be embraced and seriously taken on board as a possibility by residents, artists, housing associations and Space, this residency should not be a one-off exercise as this could imply it is a tokenistic nod to participation that can easily be forgotten. Instead, it should become a regular occurrence, for artists, with different skills and working methods to come and work with and for this community. Instead of artists stepping into the shoes that social workers once filled, such residencies should continue to offer an unknown optional extra that operates on top of all the services that should be provided by the housing association, so that such arts projects are not used to replace the fundamental rights of residents. For example, Skart, with their assistant, Sheila, a textiles artist, have suggested to the staff, a change to the curtain fabric in the communal area. This would be a small, yet significant step in artists helping to improve the environment and living spaces and is a suggestion that should be taken seriously.

This is the first time the housing association have worked with artists, and for the programme to continue, relationships need to develop and evolve between the housing association staff and staff of SPACE, as well as among future artists and tenants. The legacy of this residency should spill over into the next and so on, so that the residents of Peppie Close are not perceived as an isolated island but part of larger archipelago of social relations that can go on to influence other structures for change in valuing and developing human relationships.

Collaboration in this case is not a fluffy, passive, worthy word. It can be interpreted as openness to difference where conflicting viewpoints are listened to and shared. It seems that in the process of Skart’s work, this is something they are trying to highlight and share; little glimmers into the contradictions, mistakes and fervour in all our lives which are captured and thrown back at us to contemplate. It is about finding the poetic in everyday speech and turning this into something special. Embracing the misunderstandings, faux pas and absurdities of everyday life are sometimes fruitful meeting points for people to come together and share a joke. It is these moments that make Skart smile as they remind us that we are all fragile, naïve and uncontrollable.

We are usefully reminded by the working practices of Skart of the fact that we all make mistakes and perhaps this is the one thing we have in common. By playing with, acknowledging, sharing our mistakes and relishing the unknowns we can find ways of doing something like writing poetry, embroidering, having conversations with people you do not understand and enjoying random encounters en-route.

By Sophie Hope, May 2009 (