Marjetica Potr? is an artist and architect based in Ljubljana, Slovenia. She is known for her on-site projects, her drawing series, and her architectural case studies. Her on-site projects are characterized by participatory design and a concern with sustainable solutions. Her work emphasizes individual empowerment, problem-solving tools, and strategies for the future; at the same time, it testifies to the failure of some of the grand principles of Modernism.
Her many on-site installations include Dry Toilet (Caracas, Venezuela, 2003), Power from Nature (Barefoot College, Rajasthan, India, and the Catherine Ferguson Academy, Detroit, USA, 2005), The Cook, the Farmer, His Wife and Their Neighbour (Stedelijk goes West, Amsterdam, 2009), and Rainwater Harvesting on a Farm in the Venice Lagoon (Sant’Erasmo Island, Venice, 2010).
Potr?’s work has been featured in exhibitions throughout Europe and the Americas, including the Sao Paulo Biennial in Brazil (1996 and 2006 ) and the Venice Biennial (1993, 2003, and 2009). She has shown her work regularly at the Meulensteen Gallery (formerly the Max Protetch Gallery) in New York since 2002, and at the Nordenhake Gallery in Berlin and Stockholm since 2003, and has also had solo shows at the Guggenheim Museum in New York (2001), the Portikus Gallery in Frankfurt am Main (2006), The Curve at the Barbican Art Galleries in London (2007), and elsewhere. She has taught at several important institutions in Europe and North America, including MIT in Boston (2005) and the IUAV Faculty of Arts and Design in Venice (2008 and 2010). In 2000, she received the prestigious Hugo Boss Prize and, in 2007, was awarded a fellowship at the Vera List Center for Arts and Politics at The New School in New York.

Potr? came to the JCVA in November 2010. This was her first professional visit to Israel. She toured such large cities as Tel Aviv, Bat-Yam and Jerusalem and explored some of the periphery and the South, including many kibbutzim in the Negev (Lotan, Ne’ot Smadar and Sde Boker) and the urban kibbutz (Tammuz) in Beit Shemesh.

Port? was particularly interested in the kibbutz as a model of community. As part of her research on this social form she met with Yaara Bar-On, deputy director of Bezalel, who has recently published a book on the history of the kibbutzim, and Yuval Yaski who was the curator of Israel’s pavilion on the kibbutz in the last Biennial of Architecture in Venice. She was interested in the idea of the collaborative model, as well as the changes undergone during the kibbutz crisis, which began in the 1980’s, and the consequent restructuring of the “revitalized” (or privatized) kibbutzim. Potr? designed her own architectural research trip, and the JCVA introduced her to experts such as Alona Nitzan-Shiftan to learn about architecture’s influence on public opinion and social life in Israel’s cities.

In the course of her stay, Potr? observed Bat Yam and found it rich with possibilities for renewal and visited the Sala-Manca Group’s Mamuta Project. Both at Mamuta and at the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, she presented an exciting lecture on her world view, her on-site architectural projects and her multi-faceted art.

The Cook, the Farmer, His Wife and Their Neighbour, 2009

A collaborative project by Marjetica Potrc and Wilde West in Nieuw-West Amsterdam

The on-site project is a community garden and community kitchen in the Nieuw West district of Amsterdam. A previously unused site at Lodewijk van Deysselstraat 61 becomes a community kitchen. The vegetable garden is located behind the kitchen in what was once a fenced-off yard, what the Dutch call a kijkgroen (“look-only garden”). The garden and the kitchen help to create bonds between the neighborhood residents and serve as a catalyst for transforming not only the public space but the community itself. The project is an example of “redirective practice”, in which people from various disciplines and backgrounds work together to find new ways to build a shared community. Amsterdam’s Nieuw West district was originally designed in the 1930s as a Dutch garden city. Today, however, it faces the problems of widespread unemployment and the integration of new arrivals. At the same time, this is one of the largest residential redevelopment areas in the European Union. The Cook, the Farmer, His Wife and Their Neighbour is a case study for redesigning the modernist neighborhood from below and redefining rural and urban coexistence.

The Great Republic of New Orleans, 2007

In The Great Republic of New Orleans, Potr? uses freehand text in a series of drawings that make up a colorful storyboard. “Long before Katrina, long before industrial society, we settled in the wetlands, on the banks of the Mississippi,” the text of the first drawing says. Through anecdotes, environmental ideas, humor, and occasional cultural or political commentary, she goes on to describe an unexpected New Orleans, whose residents address the viewer in the collective voice of the first-person plural. The story of the city speaks to us through its life, its people, and its society, all of which are revealed in these direct, childlike drawings.