Croatian artist Andreja Kulunčić creates multidisciplinary artworks whose nucleus is a strong element of social engagement.

Occupying the spaces in international cities usually reserved for the visual cacophony of advertising, she gives space, and a voice, to the ‘mute’ citizens of society – those who can be seen to have the least political power, such as asylum seekers, the unemployed, or teenage mothers.

In June 2000, at ten sites in the centre of Zagreb, Andreja installed posters featuring photographic portraits of redundant female employees of the department store chain NAMA, ‘The People’s Store’, which had been very successful during the era of Real Socialism, but was bankrupted during the economic transition. Realised after consultation with members of the workers’ union, each poster featured the caption ‘NAMA: 1908 employees, 15 department stores’, which also served as the title of the piece. The implications of the ambiguous text, and the scale of the individual and nationwide struggle it represented, were grasped only with an understanding of the problems engendered by the national social and economic reforms.

In another work, Sightseeing (Graz, 2003), Andreja presented photographs of city ‘sights’ taken by asylum seekers held in detention centres, along with their name, age, country of origin, and the length of time that they had been waiting to hear confirmation of their status (frequently over a year). Underneath each image she presented, in the photographer’s own words, a brief statement about their experience of the city. The work provided a platform for these people, so often judged as invisible or undesirable, to claim their subjectivity and validate their ownership of the city.

Andreja’s proposal for International 04 developed from her visits to Speke – a geographically isolated community, and previously the second most deprived ward in the country, although it has since improved due to regeneration schemes. She elected to focus on the thoughts, feelings and aspirations of the young people from the area, using posters as a starting point for communication.

Andreja’s poster works targeted a wide audience by mimicking the communicative methods of advertising, and presented strong visual information that could be absorbed in a limited amount of time. However, each image was unique rather than belonging to an endlessly reproduced campaign, and instead of raising public awareness of a product the artist was attempting to raise social awareness, and initiate debate. While we are no longer naïve enough to believe that art can bring about massive social change, it is certainly true that it can provide a significant arena for this type of provocation.

In an established tradition of the co-opting of new media as vehicles for political protest, Andreja also produced a series of websites and conferences, in consultation with teams of professional economists, scientists and philosophers, who had dealt with such issues as global citizenship and the ethics of genetic engineering (

Eschewing personal expression for the role of the facilitator, Andreja often creates works contingent on a degree of interactivity and audience participation, whereby they encourage a vital intellectual activism.

Teenage Pregnancy, 2004
Poster installation
Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial 2004
Exhibited at Biennial Centre