In July 2012 was five years since the building of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade has been closed to public due to reconstruction, adaptation and expansion works that have not been finished until the present day. Only the first stage is completed, means the roof, the cellar facilities, the energy block, and for a long time now there have been no indications as to when the resources for the continuation of works in the second phase of the facade and interior will be obtained and the object brought to its purpose. The MCA building – one of the most representative specifically built museum objects in Serbia, which has also been proclaimed a cultural treasure – is in a non-functional state of deserted construction site and is exposed to decay. The cessation of restoration of the edifice at the Usce led to discontinuation of the Museum’s functioning as a location-specified home of art and its disappearance from the cultural map of Belgrade and Serbia, and the question “What happened to the Museum of Contemporary Art?”, which is being periodically posed in public, remains floating in the air without a concrete answer.
The project “What Happened to the Museum of Contemporary Art?” declares itself as a non-exhibition because exhibitions cannot be organized in a non-museum or a defunctionalized building in which there are no elementary museological and technical conditions for exhibiting artworks. The non-exhibition has no form, structure and architecture, it follows the found condition of the building and represents a conglomerate of statements and signs randomly dispersed throughout the exhibition space, which reflect, in different ways, the situation in which the institution is. The non-exhibition is an adequate model of conceptualization in situ of this situation and is conceived as an induced incident of awakening the Museum building from its hibernation, the primary goal of which is to arouse attention and demand support of the artistic, cultural and broadest public for it to be overcome. Although it can be understood as a form of protest, an alarm and appeal, the non-exhibition is foremost a discussion forum that opens up a series of questions that concern the relationship of the state and society towards the Museum in the actual political, economic, social and cultural contexts. By postulating “the case of the Museum of Contemporary Art” as symptomatic, the counter-spectacle of the non-exhibition likewise serves as a platform for critical deliberation on the general condition of the museum infrastructure, the cultural institutions and artistic production in Serbia.
The project “What Happened to the Museum of Contemporary Art?” is made out of three segments. In the framework of the first, in the archive form, the information, documents and artifacts connected to the process of work on the building restoration since its beginning in 2002 till today are being presented, including chronology, press-clipping, photo-documentation of conducting the construction works, project documentation, construction elements, comparative analysis of the conditions of congenerous museums in the region and so on. The second segment is comprised out of the artists’ and designers’ interventions, starting from the found Museum state as a “ruin” or a “ghost house” alienated from the society, which examine different aspects of discontinuation of the Museum’s function as a machine for the production of art and knowledge on art. The third segment of the non-exhibition is self-exhibitive: the museum interior – inhabited by marks of the building’s decay, completed and interrupted construction works, remains of exhibition architecture and mobiliary furniture – it is inflicted on the visitor as a testimony of the Museum’s dying away.