How do you assess the cultural life in Macedonia and what is the position of artists and cultural workers?
I have always been of the opinion that culture, as one of the pillars of collective memory and the bearer of security in the future, has been marginalized, and has now become a coin for bribery. Currently, the biggest problem is the particization of “artists”. I put them in quotation marks, because I believe, and history has confirmed, that real artists are politically aware, but they should not restrict their freedom of thought and action through party affiliation. And that is exactly what is happening here. Hence the great stagnation, because due to the attempt to satisfy those in power, the “artists” not only suffocate their thoughts, but also do not even try to look at what is happening in the world, not to mention an attempt to measure forces abroad. They are all big fish in a small pond, because they milk the state and the people’s money – that is their “success”. They are not even at the level of a court jester – at least, through jokes, they slapped the ruler in the face with what was wrong. The position of the artist, as well as the intellectual, is naturally oppositional. Not because everything is always bad, but because it can always be and needs to be better. The position of the artist, as well as the intellectual, is to be a mirror, a critic and a corrector of their contemporaneity. Here, they are party pamphlets. That is why there are very few arts and artists in reality. Even skills are no longer, due to the attempts for local “popularity” for easier obtaining funds from the state budget.
Is there a favourable climate for the development of art, especially music?
The art of music is on a breathing machine. In a coma. What exists and dominates is the stage music, which the ignorant ones mix with art; the spectacle, which the semi-literate mix with high level and quality. Let us not misunderstand – I do not advocate elitism, but I am educated enough to judge when nonsense is being sold (and bought), to hear the impotence (both emotional and intellectual) in someone’s work, to see the cajolery, and to spare my earс, soul and time. We have no art, with very few exceptions. So we do not have a pillar. It is even scarier that we have not had criticism for a long time. In the past, one way or another, although more often in the form of a review, there was criticism. Now there is none – either they are incapable or they do not know or they are afraid to enter in some kind of conflict with the big fish in the small pond. Everyone congratulates and applauds, everyone is ingenious and phenomenal. In that case, no development is expected, much less prosperity. On the contrary, stagnation and even worse, backwardness, which is natural in a state of self-repression and a collective intellectual and artistic embargo.
Your work outside Macedonian borders is well recognized and welcomed with joy and pleasure. Tell us more about your activities abroad.
Having in mind all the obstructions that I experience in Macedonia, both as a person and as an artist, stepping into another environment is always refreshing and encouraging. It is the real image of how much a person is worth – the respect for his word, opinion, creativity, without personal interest and intrigue. And that is exactly what has happened now. The world premiere of “dammar”, a composition for solo viola and string orchestra, performed by Saša Mirkovikj and the ensemble Metamorphosis was greeted with applause. World premiere, first performance in the world. In Belgrade, where I had 2-3 acquaintances in the audience. The reaction was the same the next day at the NEO festival in Novi Sad. With tears, with the heart in my mouth. People I do not know. Even the soloist admitted that, when playing during the premiere, he cried. The reaction to the composition was that strong.
In Kotor, I participated in a conference within the twentieth edition of the KotorArt Festival, under the auspices of UNESCO, where together with artists, ambassadors, festival managers and directors, we discussed the consequences of the pandemic, as well as the social, the artistic, even the psychological solutions. Among the participants from all over the Balkans, I was the only representative from Macedonia, at their invitation. Well, maybe not at home, but outside, my thoughts, words and deeds are respected.
Finally, an intimate question – how and when did your interest in art, music and composition begin?
As a child I used to draw. And I also did as I grew older. I still draw, from time to time – of course, when I have time. I come from a modest intellectual family. For an extended weekend, probably May 1st, we were in Ohrid, at the house of some relatives. There was a concert piano there, which was strictly forbidden to touch. One morning I got up earlier than anyone and decided to play while no one was watching. But I did not know how to play anything. So I invented my own motif (I still remember it). I repeated it, then added something to it (a classic approach to working with a motif). I played with both hands and even used the pedal. Suddenly someone called from upstairs. My mother. – Daria, is that you playing? – No. – It’s you. – (I’m silent) – What did you play? – Nothing. – Can you repeat it? (My mother and father were very musical people, and my mother had a special love for classical music) – I can! – I said happily and played. On the way home, in my father’s legendary zastava 101, I begged them to buy me a piano.
They tried to convince otherwise, that I was already drawing, and I quickly got fed up when I realized that I was good at doing something. In the end, at the age of 8, they made me promise that if they bought me a piano, I would have to play for the rest of my life. I promised it with joy. They spent their life saving to buy my piano. And that again was a mix of circumstances. A young man from Struga was selling a piano, unpacked, due to moving house. When my parents told him how much they could offer him, he said, “Let me give you the piano as a gift then,” referring to the small amount. My sister did not understand the whole thing and hugged the young man tight, thanking him for giving us the piano. At that moment he decided that it was better for the piano to end in a place where people would be this joyful because of it. That’s how it all started. Since then, composing has been my conditio sine qua non, and music – life.