The Ilica Project (Projekt u Ilici) originated in 2000, with the Community Art project and the founding of the Community Art (Umjetnost zajednice) organization initiated by Aleksandar Battista Ilić. The organization’s headquarters were located at Ilica 89 in Zagreb, in the courtyard building of a former tailor’s store, abandoned in the early 1990’s.
Project activities included various cultural and artistic interventions and practices that produced socially engaged forms of art in the community. The actors involved in the project used their approach to problematize current issues and encourage social empathy and solidarity among residents. The local project then spread to other cities in the form of an international project under the name of Contemporary Community Network, and a number of other interventions with the same mission.
The project was anchored in public activities that took place in the very public space of Ilica and Frankopanska streets, as part of new artistic practices, conceptual art and performances that had emerged in the 1960’s.
By presenting a specific spatio-temporal experience of the socio-political context in which they emerged, these artistic practices have succeeded in contributing to global artistic currents and have been a vital part of a transformative community movement.
The Ilica 2018 project (projekt Ilica 2018) is something of a continuation of the process that began nearly two decades ago, which is now making its return, more vital than ever, as a five-year project aimed at actively encouraging the cultural and artistic development of the city of Zagreb by developing a collective vision and corresponding models of participatory management of derelict spaces, involving artists, civil society organizations, educational institutions, trades and residents. The five-year framework is designed to boost the neglected cultural infrastructure through research and practice, based on which we will develop strategic guidelines for further action and establish appropriate models of the sustainable use of today’s empty urban spaces.
With the awareness of the times in which we live and work, structured particularly by the socio-economic context, as well as by the specificities of transition and socialist legacy, the upcoming years of the project in the broader sense will also address the material conditions and educational potentials of cultural and artistic production, along with the extent of their social function at the time of neoliberal policies, and will also deal with the urbanist aspects of Zagreb’s deindustrialization and the consequences of deurbanization.
The integral vision of the project is to initiate cultural artistic production in interaction with the local community, in order to communicate with the society and the moment of its creation, and attempt to provide mechanisms that will be a driving force in the processes of amplifying the neglected sociability and culture in the community.