A peek inside the Museum of Contemporary Art of Istria, Pula

Whenever I travel anywhere I always visit at least one art gallery and during my trip to Pula last year, this is the Museum of Contemporary Art is the one I chose. I decided to write about it, not because it was the most inspiring and comprehensive art gallery I’ve ever been to, but because it was one of the strangest. I’m not sure whether it was due to the time of year I visited (late September) but the museum was eerily deserted.

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I ventured inside what used to be a printing house and climbed a few flights of concrete steps. On my ascent there was paint flaking off the walls, graffiti and cracked windows and it did make me wonder if I was in the right place.  I eventually came to a large room, empty apart from two desks placed unceremoniously on either side. The only other person in the whole building apart from myself was a young woman sat at one of the desks. She spoke a little English and told me which direction I needed to head. I think I paid the equivalent of about £1 for my entrance fee.

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The first room I reached was minimal but seemed to resemble the sort of galleries I’m used to. The room was massive compared to how little it contained. The walls were lined with movie posters which might be of interest to film-lovers but I wasn’t particularly bothered about.

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As I headed onwards it began to get difficult to tell what was ‘art’ and what was simply leftover debris and tools. I wondered if they were halfway through some sort of renovation or if the building was meant to lie in this sort of decay. I peered inside one room which looked like some sort of old workshop. There was dust and pots of paint everywhere and the blue sheet which hung in front of the single window cast an eerie glow over the room. The next room was similar except that the entire wall was covered in post-it notes. There were corridors which stretched into darkness and heavy metal doors, locked but with an ominous slit for someone to peer in (or out).

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The next floor did hold a few more installations, including a blacked out room with a single light which illuminated some metal wires hanging from the ceiling. There was also a strange box containing bits of green paper and some fans. There didn’t seem to be much information about the installations or any correlation between them.

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I continued on the top floor where I found a massive room containing what looked like a big spider’s web. It was actually made from pieces of plastic, almost like cling-film. Graffiti continued to cover the walls as did the creepiness. I peered into a room only to find a shaft of light coming from the ceiling and a single box on the floor. I had a look through some of the locked doors to find mounds of chairs stacked up, but often it was too dark to see what was actually inside.

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Often I like silence when I visit an art gallery but this place was just peculiar, especially as I was alone. Although there was a sense of disquiet, the atmosphere was quite refreshing in a strange way. The building had seen better days but it was almost as if the art was an attempt to inject some semblance of life. I felt quite relieved when I stepped outside back into the warm sunlight but it was an interesting experience nonetheless and one I would probably repeat.

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Emma

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