Stage 7

Performance / Research / Public Discourse


In the seventh phase of the long-term experimental project “NailCheck,” Maja Simišić was commissioned by ETC. Magazine. The exhibition and performance, titled “Selling Out,” took place at Midas, an abandoned shopping mall in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The exhibition explored themes of capitalism, consumerism, and labour—topics that align seamlessly with “NailCheck.”

For this phase, the artist set up three elements in the space: a table for the nail technician, a spinning wheel of fortune, and a bowl with a sign reading, “Buy the artist a coffee and then turn the wheel of fortune.” The procedure was as follows: the audience was invited to donate money, after which they could spin the wheel twice—once for the style of the nail and once for the shape. The wheel featured 14 nail styles selected by Vogue Beauty and the basic nail shapes: square, ballerina, almond, stiletto and round.

At the table, the artist and nail technician were seated, ready to work as participants donated and spun the wheel, nail by nail, until the 10th nail was completed. Afterward, the audience could continue donating and turning the wheel, but the artist was no longer present.

On the night of the performance and exhibition opening, the artist received 24.30 euros in donations. With this amount, the artist purchased two apple juices, two cappuccinos, one iced flat white with oat milk, and one large falafel wrap during her stay in Ljubljana. The artist was also paid an artist fee of 150 euros and paid travel to and from Slovenia and an AirBnB in Ljubljana.

Photographs by: Marijo Zupanov

Stage 6

Performance / Research / Public Discourse


For the sixth phase of the ongoing long-term project “Nail Check,” Maja Simišić performed at Butcher’s Tears in Amsterdam with nail artist Moosje Jael Hekstra. The evening began with a fishbowl conversation involving ten selected individuals from diverse backgrounds, ages, and genders. Simišić facilitated the discussion, asking specific questions about the participants' experiences with nails. At the conclusion of the group conversation, participants were invited to describe their ultimate fake nail in a maximum of five words on a sticky note. These notes were then taken to the adjacent room and affixed to a board next to the nail technician’s table.

The nail technician's task was to interpret the descriptions and create a set of nails for the artist on the spot. Participants from the fishbowl conversation could watch the manicure being created live and try to guess which nail was inspired by their description. The nail set produced from this performance was the most challenging so far, as each nail featured a different size, shape, and 3D effects, along with varied styles. The diversity in size and shape of the nails proved particularly difficult for the artist to manage in her everyday life.

Photographs by: Lana Mojica Medaković

Stage 5

Participatory Performance / Instagram livestream


For the fifth phase of “NailCheck,” artist Maja Simišić performed at SexyLand World in Amsterdam alongside nail artist Maud Aries. This time, the participatory aspect of the project took place before the live performance. Weeks in advance, Simišić posted an open call on her Instagram page, inviting people to participate. The participation required payment of 10 euros, and after securing ten participants, Simišić emailed them a PDF template of a fingernail drawn by graphic designer and artist Emir Karyo. Participants were encouraged to design the nail as creatively as they wished.

The deadline for submitting the nail designs was one week before the performance. Simišić printed the designs on A1 boards and displayed them on a wall at SexyLand World. This was the first time the audience could be present and watch the creation of the nails live. It was also the first-ever phase of the “NailCheck” project to receive funding by Amsterdam Fonds voor de Kunst (AFK). On the day of the performance, nail artist Maud Aries (Bassment Nails) recreated the participants' designs on Simišić's new set of acrylic nails.

With this performance, the audience worked doubly hard to become part of the project; they donated money and had to design the nails. Interestingly, most participants did not create extravagant or highly creative designs; none included 3D elements. All the designs were 2D and more picture-based. Despite being given complete creative freedom, it was not utilized to its fullest extent. The artist was left with the question: “Why was this the case”?

Photographs by: Chris Groos

Stage 4

Participatory performance / Social media


For this stage, Maja Simišić reopened a GoFundMe campaign. However, as of mid-August 2022, the artist was in Bosnia, where GoFundMe was not available. To facilitate donations, she created a PayPal link and shared it on social media. Simišić advertised that she needed ten donors, humorously noting she had ten fingers, and each donor would get to design one fingernail.

The donation request was 10 euros per donor. Upon donating, each donor received an email with further instructions. They had to make three choices: the shape of the nail, the color of the nail, and the style (e.g., French tip). The artist provided 3 to 5 options for each category. This was the first time that Simišić gave the participants/donors a choice in the nail design.

After securing the ten donors, the artist visited the nail salon "Maja" (coincidentally named after her) in Sarajevo and got her nails done according to the designs chosen by each donor. The resulting nail art varied based on the donors' choices, with many opting for rhinestones.