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In Conversation With Lea Vene

For our first Iliya shooting, we called Lea Vene, a long-time friend, art historian, cultural anthropologist, curator, and fashion theorist, to perform with our first collection of silk scarves. Later, we had a chit-chat about her work and collaboration with Iliya.
1. What do you like and what inspires you in your work practice?
I’m a workaholic so I can say I’m quite lucky to be doing what I truly love. Researching, curating and writing about contemporary art, photography, performance, clothing cultures, fashion history and also teaching these topics to students. Another inspiring aspect of my practice is that I get to travel a lot as part of my curatorial research and residency programs, meet artists and connect different cultural scenes. One thing that unites all my projects and approaches is collective and collaborative work that I’ve experimented with from the very early on. Those community building work experiences have always led to the most valuable lessons (on a private and professional level), initiated processes of self reflection but also pushed my practice forward.
2. What is your curatorial focus in the near future?
I will continue my curatorial work in the field of textile art as part of my research work at the CIMO (Centre for Research of Fashion and Clothing), as well as some educational programs related to textile histories. For the Organ Vida photography festival, we’re planning an expanded film and photography exhibition program. As for Gallery Močvara the focus is on exhibitions situated between theater, performance, and installation.
3. Name a couple of your projects that you are most proud of and why?
Five years ago, together with my friend Sendy Osmicevic, I started a pilot project promoting artistic research through permacultural practices but also merging the field of ecology and contemporary art. It was very exciting to work outside the white cube and build a truly interdisciplinary collaboration and a new platform.

I also have to single out all the research work done at CIMO together with Tonči Vladislavić as a relevant contribution to critical writing about local fashion history. I think we’ve built one of a kind platform that intertwines artistic, academic and activist practices related to fashion and clothing cultures.

4. How would you describe Iliya?
I really appreciate that Iliya is first and foremost a personal project, not a commodity. It translates Ena’s artistic practice and sensibility into an intimate garment.
5. What do you think you and Iliya have in common?
My relationship to clothes is beyond the practicality of it but rather understanding its relevance for the interrelation to my own body and self-representation. I perceive Iliya as being more than a clothing item, tailored to be individually adapted and embodied.
To see Lea work, go to the instagram profile @mocvara_gallery or Organ Vida and CIMO