In times of a pandemic, as the number of new infected patients skyrockets to its peaks in the finest of all possible worlds (a world in which humour had been long buried by the Devil), a question imposes upon us and makes us ponder over the meaning and intrinsicality of cultural events, which have always been ranked low on the ladder of priorities in times of crisis.
Once the lockdown came into force, our appetite for books, music and movies began to increase commensurately with the number of infected cases. Art in all its forms has suddenly become a necessity, spiritual food, a kind of spiritus movens offering a certain escapism and acting therapeutically in these times of crisis. Forced into self-isolation, people have turned to themselves, determined to awaken their creative impulse languished deep in their subconscious. Suddenly, social networks were flooded with handmade artifacts: paintings, drawings, embroidery, jewellery … Repressed libidinal energies, unrealized ambitions and dreams, unfulfilled creative impulses, dormant chimeras of ID, hibernating childhood dreams… began to transpire on the surface of white sheets of paper, canvases, and filigrees.
Since the beginning of the crisis, numerous cultural events have been cancelled. Social networks and various digital platforms have proven to be a worthy and acceptable alternative. Cyberspace superseded the concert halls and galleries, introducing online screenings, exhibitions, and music performances. Hence, the International Ex Libris Exhibition Skopje, which is traditionally held at the Open Graphic Studio and the Museum of the City of Skopje, is being held virtually this year, due to technical grounds. Graphic art lovers can remain satisfied with the quality of the selected works.
This year marks a small milestone – the fifth edition of the International Ex Libris Exhibition Skopje. Our new reality prevents us from honouring this jubilee accordingly, but we can take a rain check and conveniently use it at another time. I have confidence that the situation will return to normal by then and we will have replaced our face masks with smiles and hugs. Until the next exhibition, stay safe and sound.

Atanas T. Botev