Slobodan Kojić, a sculptor by profession, the founder and director of Terra Center for Fine and Applied Arts in Kikinda, has won numerous prestigious awards in the country and abroad. He is a participant in many exhibitions and sculpture colonies and symposiums, and in 1982 he founded the International Terracotta Sculpture Symposium. He is a member of the Association of Fine Artists of Serbia – ULUS and the Association of Fine Artists of Vojvodina – ULUV. He worked as a tenured professor for many years at the Faculty of Arts in Cetinje and at the College of Vocational Studies for the Education of Teachers in Kikinda. In the continuation, the artist of a rich biography, Mr. Slobodan Kojić, talks about his creativity and the interconnectedness of tourism and culture.
- We all know very well that Kikinda is the birthplace of extraordinary talents, artists who have created unforgettable works, among which Mika Antić is perhaps the best known to the public. What is it that makes Kikinda such a suitable place for the development of artistic talent?
The spirit of the People who have been sharing a cultural space throughout their life and creation for several decades certainly contributes to making an environment as specific as it is the case of Kikinda. Equally important is the historical context of the site itself, in which the very character of people whose identity is indescribably connected to the proto-element – clay – is integrated.
- You founded the Terra Symposium in 1982 which over time has grown into the important Tera Viva Festival, an art symposium and an art colony dedicated to sculpture. How are sculpture and tourism related?
The Terra Museum which was opened to the public after decades of struggle in 2017, today is the only place in the world where you can gain insight into the tendencies in contemporary art in terracotta. The permanent exhibition is organized in such a way that the formats of terracotta sculptures, large and small, are placed in a sequence in it. The peculiarity of this collection as well as the Sculpture Park that surrounds the Terra Atelier itself which you can easily enter gives an indescribable feeling for visitors.
On the other hand, with the organization of the almost decade-long Tera Viva Festival, which over time has expanded into a significant multimedia event, the art symposium has gained additional visibility but also expanded the field of the audience it addresses.
- What distinguishes sculpture from other types of art? Did you have groups of tourists who participated in sculpture workshops and how did they react to such an experience?
One should always keep in mind that art is one. The advantage of sculpture is a pronounced tactile moment that is not so present in other media, the distinct texture or structure of the material itself makes everyone feel special and more connected with a certain work of art.
For decades now, the Terra Atelier has hosted final year students and so far we have had the opportunity to host students from Romania, Italy, Montenegro, Slovakia, Republika Srpska (Trebinje), Taiwan, China.
Their impression was indescribable in words, having in mind that they do not have such working conditions at their Academies as they had the opportunity to see for themselves, by staying at Terra.
- Apart from the artistic content, do you cooperate with other actors in the field of tourism, so that tourists for whom sculpture and culture are the main reason for visiting can also experience the different tourist offer of Kikinda?
A few years ago, cooperation began with the Tourist Organization of Kikinda on the occasion of the establishment of the cluster. In the next period, we will work in that field and coordinate activities on the same.
- Is there a destination in the world that has in an “ideal” way fitted the tourist and artistic offer, especially in the context of sculpture? Which destination is it?
If we take a brief look at the history of art, it is clear that the answer can be found in the artistic tradition of Italy, namely Florence.
- Can you recommend to our readers the destination in Vojvodina they should visit during the remainder of the summer?
Our vicinity has enough to offer, so we would like to point out the visit to Novo Miloševo or the Žeravica Museum, certainly to our National Museum in Kikinda as well as Mokrin House, then Palić and the Fruška Gora monasteries.
- What are your plans for the future?
A phase of the Botanical Garden Sculpture Park project is underway, which should cover an area of 12 hectares and which will complement the existence of the unique Terra Museum. The former army command building is planned to become TERRA educational center, while the sales salon and cafe are about to open. Further plans are to turn two buildings of the former barracks into endowment, while the third barracks building will house a natural history museum.
In parallel, the project that is being realized this year will take place at the location of the former Plant II in the area where the Terra Atelier is located today; it is now entering the initial phase of adaptation of the former tile dryer facility which will become accommodation space.