Marjetica Potrč
Ramot Polin Unit with Sukkah', 2011
Building material and water-supply infrastructure (Bricks, wood, woodwool plates, tar paper, metal, reed, plastic)
Courtesy the artist and Galerie Nordenhake, Berlin/Stockholm
Featuring as the central subjects in the research carried out by the Slovenian artist Marjetica Potrč are various architectural structures, taken as indicators of the social landscape. Architectural research in the field is an integral part of her artistic method, but not an end in itself. Ramot Polin Unit with Sukkah is a typical example of such an artistic study. In this installation, Potrč connects the architecture of the dodecahedral modules of Jerusalem's Ramot Polin neighbourhood, designed by Zvi Hecker, and the sukkah, a temporary structure traditionally erected for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

Potrč analyses the social background and history of architectural decisions by conducting site-specific research. Thus, the experimental modernist project of the Ramot Polin quarter, built in the 1970s as part of a state social housing initiative, had considerable political significance – the expansion of Jerusalem into territories annexed during the Six-Day War of 1967. The Orthodox Jewish residents of the area soon built numerous rectangular extensions on the multi-pentagon living modules, with such additions being termed in the singular a sukkah, as in the "tabernacles" of Hebrew scripture that lend their name to the Sukkot festival. The original form of the utopian modernist quarter was thereby altered in eccentric fashion to suit the needs of its inhabitants. As well as this, the art project also refers to the social divisions of Israeli society, in which attitude to religion determines many aspects of life. Through this, Potrč problematises the modernist notion of universality, revealing the influence of culture, religion and politics on such basic components of human life as the appearance of a home. Placing entire full-scale architectural modules in exhibition and museum spaces, removed from their usual urban context, allows the artist to draw the viewer's attention to the social aspects of architecture. The artist calls her architectural studies "portraits of towns". While the Ramot Polin module with attached sukkah may cast doubt on the utopian ideas of modernism, it simultaneously, like all of Potrč's studies, acts as a bearer of utopian ideas on the transformation of the world through art, as place is after all created by the people settling in and inhabiting it, something which the artist also addresses.

Anna Zhurba
artistic director of the project: Viktor Misiano
National Center for Contemporary Arts
Moscow Museum of Modern Art
Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center
Made on