NAMA – 1908 Employees, 15 Department Stores

The cen­tral the­me of the pro­ject is non-tran­s­pa­rent tran­si­ti­on and the con­sequ­ent fate of workers

In-situ pro­ject, June, Zagreb, Croatia, June 2000.


The artwork Nama: 1908 Employees, 15 Department Stores is an adver­ti­sing simu­la­ti­on that inclu­des pos­ters with por­tra­its of fema­le wor­kers loca­ted in city lig­ht boxes in frequ­ent public pla­ces in Zagreb.


In the cen­ter of the work is “NAMA” (it comes from NArod­ni MAgazin which means “The People’s Shop”) — the stron­gest cha­in of depart­ment sto­res, a sym­bol of soci­alist wel­fa­re, which in tran­si­ti­onal con­di­ti­ons beco­mes unpro­fi­ta­ble and col­lap­ses. At the time when the artist deve­lops the pro­ject the shel­ves in the depart­ment sto­res are emp­ty, and the fate of 1908 employe­es who work daily wit­ho­ut pay next to the emp­ty shel­ves is uncertain.

Among three com­ple­tely dif­fe­rent ide­as that Andreja had to “amplify the voice” of wor­kers in public, the NAMA uni­on deci­ded to go with the pro­po­sal of using pos­ters in city lig­ht boxes, con­si­de­ring it would pro­vi­de the hig­hest visi­bi­lity. Posters featu­ring a NAMA wor­ker in a recog­ni­za­ble work uni­form and the text “NAMA: 1908 wor­kers, 15 depart­ment sto­res” were pla­ced in cen­tral city locations.

The employee on the pos­ter sym­bo­li­zes the indi­vi­du­al and col­lec­ti­ve disas­ter accom­panying the tran­si­ti­on in the Croatian economy. 


Three days after the pos­ters were pla­ced, a flur­ry of arti­cles in news­pa­pers aro­se, ques­ti­oning who and with what pur­po­se had pla­ced the pos­ters in the city, con­si­de­ring that the shel­ves rema­ined emp­ty and the wor­kers were still unpaid.

The exis­ten­ti­al uncer­ta­in­ty of the wor­kers was fur­t­her bro­ug­ht into the public spo­tlig­ht, along with the ques­ti­on of non-tran­s­pa­rent pri­va­ti­za­ti­ons. Through the media, a public dialo­gue was reig­ni­ted, con­tri­bu­ting in part to the even­tu­al out­co­me: ban­krup­t­cy with res­truc­tu­ring. Workers were not laid off, sala­ri­es were paid, and the depart­ment sto­res con­ti­nu­ed to operate.


Project reali­za­ti­on:
The work was pro­du­ced for the exhi­bi­ti­on “What, how and for whom”, cura­ted by Ana Dević and Nataša Ilić. / Author: Andreja Kulunčić / Workers NAME: Branka Stanić, Biserka Kanenarić and Barbara Kovačević. / Poster design by Dejan Dragosavac-Ruta / Photography by Mara Milin / Styling by Robert Sever / Makeup by Saša Joković / Photo-docu­men­ta­ti­on of the pro­ject by Mara Milin and Ivo Martinović / Production by WHW, Zagreb.


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