The dreams we call our own

Mseum of contemporary art (MSU) Zagreb, Hrvaška
04 April – 07 May 2023

Jasmina Cibic’s artistic practice spans across film, performance and installation and rigorously interrogates the aesthetics of politics. Her works are situated within architectural settings of national pride and power, from state assemblies to cultural monuments, and draw on historical events and individuals that determine shared conceptions of identity. She continuously examines artistic production in terms of its relationship to propaganda and ideology. Through this she identifies the ways in which culture is instrumentalised and who it is intended to serve. In her recent projects, Cibic has been investigating political gifting of cultural objects, artworks and architectures that personified hope and solidarity during the plight of self-determination of nations and emerging political identities.

The exhibition The dreams we call our own sheds light on the artist’s performative interventions into archives and other historical ready-mades (a piece of art or architecture taken in the context of its time), from which she constructs new plots and weaves feminist narratives. Through this, Cibic underlines the alternative world building potential she continuously seeks in historical traces with a view to serve our present and inform our future.

At the centre of the exhibition is Cibic’s acclaimed film The Gift, which is presented in dialogue with two bodies of works on paper: a series of photographs and a series of collages which base themselves on two archives that were both constructed from gifts and donations: the collection of the Art Gallery of the Non-Aligned Countries held at the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Podgorica (the only official collection of artworks donated by heads of states, cultural workers and artists from the countries of the Non-Aligned Movement) and the photographic archive of Yugoslavia’s former president Josip Broz Tito (1892-1980) held at the Museum of Yugoslavia, Belgrade. Both archives present collections that acted as a binding mechanism between political and social intents; between emerging nations, cultural workers and their audiences.

Cibic’s works on paper form an installation within the first room of the exhibition – an antechamber to the film – which is enveloped with dark curtains and dimly lit. On the walls hang a series of photographic portraits of a selection of sculptures from the collection of the Art Gallery of the Non-Aligned Countries depicting the sculptures of emerging mother-nations; female torsos, busts and heads. Photographed on colourful backgrounds, they stand reminiscent of flags and national iconographies, but also contain references to darkness, decay and corrosion, as they are coated by various species of moths, referencing historic vanitas painting – a reminder of all there is to lose in the act of forgetting past potentials of alternative world building.

Within the centre of the room stand vitrines displaying a series of collages Cibic has created from her photographs of the albums gifted to the former president Tito by his official photographers. These artists, who were ‘employed by the state’, had the task of following the Yugoslav diplomacy across the Non-Aligned world to document the scenographic backdrop created for the newly proposed political and diplomatic alliance. Cibic manipulates her photographs through collage, cutting symbols into them alongside aesthetic vocabulary of the Non-Aligned Movement, therefore editing the various ‘nationally representative’ landscapes to reveal alternative angles and suggest speculative futures.

Passing through this antechamber, the visitor arrives at a theatrical installation of Cibic’s film The Gift; a dystopian drama that navigates through the history of political gift giving during moments of Europe’s identity crises. The film follows an artist, a diplomat and an engineer who pitch their ideas for the perfect gift to heal a divided nation; a gift both aesthetically impressive and politically adequate. One that could reconcile the towering divisions in national identity in times of deep crisis.

Drawing its dialogue from historical speeches by politicians, diplomats, architects and artists, The Gift questions whether culture, in the service of a nation, can be anything but a Trojan horse for covert diplomacy and political interests. The film moves between several iconic buildings each conceived as a gift in its own right: Oscar Niemeyer’s French Communist Party Headquarters in Paris, the Palais of the Nations in Geneva, the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw and Mount Buzludzha in Bulgaria.

The carefully curated works within the exhibition meet to interrogate national and transnational consciousness production, pouring forth the question of resilience of cultural production over its usage as a pawn in permutations of political and national interests.


The exhibition is supported by Projekt Atol, Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia, Mestna občina Ljubljana, Friends of Nomad, Maistra Collection Rovinj, Museum of Yugoslav History and the Art Collection of Non-Aligned Countries Laboratory project at Centre of Contemporary Art Montenegro and the Croatian Audio-visual Centre.

The Gift is co-commissioned and co-produced by macLyon, FLAMIN Productions through Film London Artists’ Moving Image Network (with funding from Arts Council England), steirischer Herbst ’19 and co-produced with Waddington Studios London. Supported by Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź, Northern Film School – Leeds Beckett University, UGM Maribor Art Gallery, Cooper Gallery – Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design – University of Dundee, Projekt Atol, Museum of Yugoslavia, United Nations Geneva, Espace Niemeyer and Palace of Culture and Science Warsaw.

The exhibition is part of the Cinematographies of Resistance project and a multiannual collaboration between the Subversive Festival and the Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb.

Curated by Leila Topić and Jasmina Cibic
Exhibition producer: Vanja Žanko & Uroš Veber
Exhibition co-producer: Dina Pokrajac
Exhibition coordinator: Daniela Bilopavlović Bedenik


Born 1979 in Ljubljana (Slovenia), Jasmina Cibic lives and works in London. She is a graduate of the Accademia di Belle Arti, Venice, and Goldsmiths’ College, London.
She represented Slovenia during 55th Venice Biennale in 2013, with the project For Our Economy and Culture.
In the last two years several solo exhibitions were dedicated to Jasmina Cibic at venues including the Museum of Contemporary Art Ljubljana, Phi Foundation Montreal, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, CCA Glasgow and others. Cibic was awarded the Ben Award for Best Immersive and Time Based Art (2020), MAC International Ulster Bank Award (2016) and Best International Artist Award Charlottenborg Fonden Copenhagen (2016). She has been shortlisted for the renowned Film London Jarman Award (2021).

Solos shows (selection)
Most Favoured Nations, Museum der Moderne, Salzburg

21.05 – 29.08 : The Palace, Muzeum Sztuki, Lodz

The Foundation of Endeavour, Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova, Ljubljana

An atmosphere of Joyful Contemplation, CCA Glasgow
The Pleasure of Expense, Cooper Gallery, DJCAD Dundee
Spielraum, Tobačna 001, Ljubljana

Everything We Do Today will Look Heroic in the Future, The Significant Other, Vienna
Everything that You Desire and Nothing that You Fear, Phi Foundation, Montreal
This Machine Builds Nations, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Newcastle

NADA, National Gallery of Macedonia, Skopje
The Spirit of Our Needs, Kunstmuseen Krefeld House Esters
Topical Devices, Northampton Contemporary, Northampton
Firm Foundations, Gallery Zak Branicka, Berlin
The Nation Loves It, Crawfrod Gallery, Cork
A Shining City on a Hill, Space O, Aarhus 2017, Aarhus

Tear Down and Rebuild, Esker Foundation, Calgary
Building Desire, Apoteka, Vodnjan
NADA: Act I, Vjenceslav Richter Collection, Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb

Spielraum, Onomatopee, Eindhoven
Building Desire, Museum of Contemporary Art, Vojvodina
Tear Down and Rebuild, Salon of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade
Spielraum: Give Expression to Common Desires, MGLC, Ljubljana
Spielraum: The Nation Loves It, Ludwig Museum, Budapest

Fruits of Our Land, Saw Gallery, Ottawa and LMAK Projects, New York

For Our Economy and Culture, Slovenian pavilion, Venice Biennale, Venice

Jasmina Cibic