Beogradski Pamučni Kombinat is a large factory complex situated on one of the main streets of Belgrade. With a history dating back to 1903, having been through several wars, merges, and handovers, the factory presents an insightful look into the industrial history of Yugoslavia, as well as into the future of the capital city of Serbia. Spread on 36,500 square meters with 48 departments from a weaving mill to a printing house, the complex hosts some of the best-preserved examples of industrial architecture before World War II and is evidence of the importance of the textile industry in the country.
After the sanctions in the 90s and operating with losses, the company filed for bankruptcy in 2001 and abandoned the monumental complex without any plan of conservation or alteration of intended use. Although it’s under the protection of the “Cultural Monument Protection Institute” in Serbia, the state of the facilities can leave one in dismay with collapsed roofs, fig trees growing on concrete floors, forsaken office furniture, materials, ledgers, personal items, and many more. Simply, it’s left to decay.
Despite that, since its abandonment, the complex has hosted many forms of art and artists and acted as a source of inspiration and a defacto art space to many. As such, the artists in this exhibition - former inhabitants of Belgrade- have a personal connection to the factory, its materials, and its aesthetics. Anna von Siebenthal's approach involves reinterpreting and repurposing materials and space, creating a dialogue with the factory's history while utilizing it as an installation space. Clement Bedel's paintings reflect the influence of the factory's aesthetics as they delve into pressing issues of overconsumption, urbanization, gentrification, and environmental concerns. To convey our thoughts and worries, Eisenwerk’s Shed is turned into an immersive space that pays homage to Pamučni Kombinat while reflecting our distinct perspectives on these shared issues.
While Hanging by a Thread attempts to reflect on the history of the factory along with the fragile economic systems we live in; the structure deteriorates, gets stripped of its core materials, and becomes more and more available to gentrification. Beogradski Pamučni Kombinat will share the same inevitable future with many other factories in the city, but Anna's and Clement's work will stay threaded through the geographies they are rooted in and the geographies they have shared.*
Curation & Text by Zeren Oruc
*Unexpectedly, the factory was demolished 3 days after the opening of the exhibition.
Artists: Anna Von Siebenthal, Clement Bedel
Technical Production: Anthony Brooks
Location: Shen im Eisenwerk, Frauenfeld, Switzerland
Dates: 19.10 - 09.11.2023
Photo Credits: Anthony Brooks