Open Studio: Play as Art

On Wednesday, March 20th, from 7 PM, experience a unique event—experiment with games alongside new media artist Željko Beljan.

In the early days of March, the space of the Miroslav Kraljević Gallery (GMK) was reimagined into a workshop through the Open Studio program, led by new media artist Željko Beljan. Central to his artistic inquiry during this period is the concept of play, envisaged as a realm where the free creative synergy of the participants shines. Beljan approaches play with an openness, probing its role and potency in the act of creation. He advances his Arcade Project, which had been partially showcased at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MSU) last year, by developing playful elements such as twists on mini table football and the conceptualization for a new media version of mini golf. By applying traditional sculptural techniques and craftsmanship, Beljan integrates art within the context of traditional games, thus reinforcing the significance of everyday culture in contemporary art. Throughout the Open Studio, Beljan also embarks on the preparation of an artist book based on anthropological research conducted in Vukovar, in collaboration with WHW in 2023.

The artist book primarily focuses on women’s soccer, set against the backdrop of the Borovo factory’s history and its sporting teams. It interrogates the role of sports across different historical and political epochs, spotlighting the first official women’s soccer match in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, played in 1938 in Borovo Naselje, which led to a ban on women playing soccer. We invite you to this distinct event on Wednesday from 7 PM. Grab the chance to reawaken your inner child by exploring new games Beljan has crafted, engaging in conversations with the artist about his insights, and reliving your childhood nostalgia. Furthermore, you’ll have the opportunity to delve into the progress of the artist book and, possibly, enrich its development with your own experiences. An evening of entertainment and discoveries awaits—we’re excited to see you there.

Željko Beljan is a visual artist whose artistic practice focuses on the phenomenon of manual labor and its position in contemporary artistic practices, exploring textiles and handcrafted techniques as an artistic medium. He explores the relationship between manual labor and amateur, hobbyist sports, emphasizing the participatory nature and involvement of the audience in the realization of works. He graduated from the Department of Animated Film and New Media at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 2021. He was a finalist for the Radoslav Putar Award for the year 2023 and an alumnus of the WHW Academy in the 2022 generation. Since 2011, he has participated in a significant number of group exhibitions in Croatia and the region, and he has also had a series of solo exhibitions. 

Artist: Željko Beljan
Organizer: GMK
Curators: Maja Pavlinić, Antonela Solenički, Petar Vranjković
Producer: Tea Matanović
Visual: Lovro Škiljić
Artist’s portrait: Iva Jurić

The 2024 Open Studio program is made possible with support from the Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Croatia and the City Office for Culture and Civil Society of the City of Zagreb.

The Miroslav Kraljević Gallery’s program is supported by the Kultura Nova Foundation.