On May 1, 2004 the European Union will
expand beyond its current "core Europe" constellation to include, for the
first time, nations of the former Eastern and Non-Aligned Blocks. For these
ten nations the 'day of accession' is the opportunity to rejoin a European
sphere which, for many, was felt to have been robbed through the militarily
enforced alliances of the Cold War.
By recalling the pan-European Picnic of 1989 along the Austrian-Hungarian
border, which induced the events leading to the collapse of the Berlin Wall,
the Trans-European Picnic will mark the resultant shift in Europe's geopolitical
structure. For many however, the 'opening' brought about by the events of
1989 are now to be met by 'managed closure', restricted mobility, the revival
of 'visa regimes' delineating new barriers and borders as well as the imposition
of new top-down regulations, bureaucracies and standards.
Through a two-day electronic media arts and culture gathering at the city
of Novi Sad, Serbia, a few kilometres beyond the European Union's new transnational
edge, the Picnic will bring together artists, theoreticians and media practitioners
from across Europe to explore the changing cultural and artistic landscape
within and beyond this new conglomerate of competing cultures, economies and
identities. The Trans-European Picnic will provide a lively platform of debate
and exchange into the evolving sense of identity and new forms of collaboration
active in countering the growing gap separating the Europe of the "Out-side"
from the Europe of the "In-side".
Guy Van Belle (Amsterdam/Brussels) has been prominently involved in the use and development of multimedia for artistic purposes since 1990. As an independent art worker he cooperates with Waag Society Amsterdam on the development of collaborative creative tools for installations and performances. For that purpose he set up \An`a*tom"ic\ "Related to the structure of an organism", a weekly open studio for young and unconventional artists, linked to international partners by fiber optic wire: New York, Brussels, Reykjavik, Tokyo, Athens, Sofia, Prague, Bratislava, ... Since 2000 he has been working under the name of the collective digital band mxHz.org (machine cent'red humanz), creating collaborative performances, concerts, workshops, exhibitions and unexpected experimental/abstract/robotic art projects. With Akihiro Kubota he founded the 'Society of Algoritm' in 2001. Recently he started to work at an hommage to Arseny Avraamov, in Baku on 7 November 2022. In a press clipping he was referred to as: "Experimental- und Medienmusiker, A/V-Jockey und Netzkuenstler; Arbeit in internationalen Experimentalstudios und unabhaengigen Audioaktivitaeten im Netz
Wato is an artist, curator and the creative administrator of in Tbilisi (GE). After studying film in Georgia he graduated as MA at the Department of Photography at the Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp (Belgium). Since he returned to Tbilisi he started to work on cultural meteorology in the Caucasus. The modest result of this activity is the biannual project APPENDIX. This international exhibition project is intended to be a small, but intense event oriented towards integrating young Caucasian contemporary art within a broader context. Currently Wato works on different mixed exhibition projects.
Is a Hungarian art historian and art critic. She is a senior research fellow at the Research Institute for Art History of Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest. From 1990-1992 and from 1997-2003 she was the New York correspondent for Hungarian Art magazines, like Új Muvészet (Art Today) and Muérto (Hungarian Art Journal). Her volume of collected essays on contemporary American art in the nineties was published in Budapest, in 2001 entitled Rope-dancing. Her other main focus is contemporary art in the ex-Eastern Block, especially in Hungary regarding questions of transition. She is also interested in gender issues and art theory. Edit participated in several conferences. Amongst them: "Surviving Freedom: Visual Arts in Hungary since 1989" at Rutgers University (US), "After the Wall. Art and Culture in Post-Communist Europe" at the Moderna Museet Stockholm (SE), "Money/Nation" conference, Shedhalle Zurich (CH), "co-operation. International Forum for Feminist Art and Theory" in Dubrovnik (HR), and "The Legacy of Modernism and the
imperative of Modernity" at the annual conference of AICA, entitled "Strategies of Power." Zagreb (HR). She publishes in several Hungarian art magazines. Her essays in English have been published in the catalogues of the Hungarian Pavilion of the Venice Biennial (1997, 1999), the catalogue of the exhibition "After the Wall", Stockholm (1999), n.paradoxa on-line , artmargins online, and "MoneyNations. Constructing the border - constructing East-West", Vienna, 2003.
Born in Prague 1955, he graduated in Art History and Aesthetic at Charles University,1980. Since the early 80's he is involved in independent music, visual art, action art, and curatorial work. He is the initiator, researcher, co-producer and co-author of the interactive educational project "Orbis Pictus Revised" commisioned for ZKM Karlsruhe. Milos is founder of "The Metamedia Center Project" at the Plasy Monastery, initiator of The Hermit Foundation, and curator at TheCollection of The Modern and Contemporary Art National Gallery Prague. He lectures in media art, contemporary art and communication studies at the Faculty of Fine Arts, at the Technical University Brno. In addition he works for The Artmedialab which is related to the Center for Contempoary Art in Prague. Since 2000 he runs the broadcasting project www.radiojeleni.cz
Retired net.artist and ascii artist. Born in 1966 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Currently lives in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Best known as internet art pioneer and author of numerous net.art projects. Lecturer, writer and curator, exhibited, published and curated internationally. Co founder of Nettime, Syndicate, 7-11 and Ljubljana Digital Media Lab.
Most notable venues include: Venice Bienial; Walker Center, Minneapolis; Postmasters, NYC; Kunsthalle, Vienna; Stedelijk, Amsterdam; LAMoCA, LA; ICA, London; ZKM, Karlsruhe; Beaubourg, Paris;
Some media: Suck, HotWired, ORF, Spiegel, Britannica, Newsweek, Artforum, NYTimes, El Pais...
A room was bathed in a deep blue neon light. A number of sofas were laid out to face the sun. The three of them were sitting with the music on, relaxing and basking the sunshine. The whole picture had the transparency of overexposure, or lucidity that puts you at ease and makes it hard to concentrate on something. Art is forcing them to explore things beyond their realm of imagination and makes them question reality.
Jorjika (George Jorjoliani) is a musician. All that started back in the early 90's when he went to Germany, then traveled to Russia where he had his first studio, started socializing, meeting creative people, thinking collectively and making his first steps in music. Upon arrival in Georgia he started DJing in clubs. He played at club "Lift", where the three of them Gio, Levaniko and Jorjika all met. Jorjika's music is electronic, though he does not define is as such, rather his music is a reflection of the environment he communicates in, and the genre is determined by the people he interacts with. More than anything else, his music is associated with the energy, information and emotions that he accumulates during the day. Being a "slow net" he says slowly "I live in music and I realize myself through music". Though being involved social activities, he cannot do without his devotion. Whichever process happens internally, music is always the outcome. For him, music is a sound; and the cognition of this pushed him to start experimenting with sounds: from cognition to electronic music. As his friends Gio and Levaniko, he remains in close relation with visual culture as well by experimenting with a variety of visual media. As a
musician and professional DJ he spends his time traveling, observing the transformation of human beasts from artificial Soviet structure into free and creative human beings.
Here's where Gio (George Sumbadze) comes in wondering where to begin. He is a painter. "Semi- mechanic painter" as he says but "i forgot about being one". What he does is art. For him everything is art, regardless of the media, be it sound, light, installation, photography or video. However, despite his emphasis on ideas, he is more a conceptual artist because his work depends on elements over which he has little control. For example, he observes how people manage their identity in relation to social contextual information; how audio codes (such as commercials, politics etc) influence the energy flow in society. His current interests consider human-machine relationships, consciousness exploration through external technological means. Some of his recent ideas are to use sensors to sense a crowd's energy and, have audio respond to that; and design a robotic creature with behavioral and interactive qualities and observe how people relate to an organic but not anthropomorphic entity. Gio usually leaves music on a loop and listens to it all night and day, so that his dream world and daily activities coincide. "Any raw energy can be cultivated in you. It is an art to cultivate this energy and produce it", he says. Today, he just follows the flow while creating something and looks at the result tomorrow, so he can know for sure where he was yesterday.
Levaniko (Levan Nutsubidze) rushed into the Georgian Pop TV channel with his innovative ideas to make it all meaningful and watch-worthy. Currently he is having a show called "Short cut", where he makes every effort to deliver good audio and video to the consumer market. He uses various forms of artistic expression: a combination of image, space body with electronic media, that can be defined as inter-media art. He examines the relationship between visual art and popular culture: how do artists respond to social, political and cultural events, how is art influenced by social norms, mass media, industrial technology and popular culture? Currently Levaniko is filming videos, photographing and making accessories by recycling different objects. He deconstructs factory-made consumer goods, cannibalizes and recycles them in either art objects or accessories. He intuitively chooses both his initial material and resultant object.
Artist. Born in Sofia, Bulgaria in 1957. National Academy for Fine Arts, Sofia in 1980.
Current projects: "The Post-Communist condition", Kunstwerke, Berlin; Red Riviera Revisited, ICA, Sofia; Nuit Blanche, City of Paris all in 2004.
Recent one-artist shows: "Hot City Visual", ICA, Sofia in 2003; Knoll Gallery, Vienna in 2001; "E-FACE 2000" in Art/Media/Center TV Gallery, Moscow, 2000.
Recent presentations and lectures: "Identity Overkill". Intermedia Dept., Academy of Fine Arts, Budapest; Seminar: "The Construction of Consumer Identity in Public Space. The Visual Interface of the Post-socialist City". Center for Arts and Culture, Central European University, Budapest.
Recent publications: "Sofia as a Sight. Luchezar Boyadjiev; Mila Mineva". Visual Seminar, Resident Fellows Program, ICA / CAS, Sofia; Archis Magazine, # 6, 2003, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Recent group shows: "In the Gorges of the Balkans", Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel, Germany, "Blood & Honey", The Essl Collection, Klosterneuburg/Vienna in 2003; "In Search of Balkania", Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum Joanneum, Graz, Austria; Manifesta 4, Frankfurt; "Reconstruction", 4th Biennial Cetinje, Montenegro; "The Collective Unconsciousness", MIGROS Museum, Zurich in 2002; "Konverzacija", MCA, Belgrade; "Escape", 1st Biennial, Tirana in 2001; "Négociations", CRAC, Séte, France; "L'Autre moitie de l'Europe", Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris; "Worthless (Invaluable)", Moderna Galerja, Ljubljana, Slovenia in 2000.
Meeting and workshops of Free Media Initiatives on framing diverse strategies for sustainable cultural cooperation and exchange.
Prague (CZ) 10-11th June, and Freistadt (A) 12-13th June
The FM@dia Forum 04 in Prague and Freistadt will encourage a wide range of free media and community projects to discuss potential common strategies and shared interests (eg. Media policy), to improve mutual awareness, sharing know-how and content exchange.
The rapid social, political, economical and technological shift of terms of the expanded "United Europe" pose a challenge to discuss, reframe and compare such topics as "free speech", "public access", "independence - media ownership", "creative commons", "digital gap" or "content exchange". All this and more requires a cross- referencing for establishing a common base and functioning platform for better collaboration among media activists, artists, free radios , 'zine publishers, internet publishers etc.
While the region is characterised by a relatively high potential of growth of media and civic activities, the inter-connectivity reaching beyond the borders remains by comparison rare. Easier access to new digital technologies open new chances as well as threats for civic and community media as opposed to mass media and corporate structures. Activating and intensifying mutual communication and collaboration between different regions, languages and cultures is the aim of the "FM@dia" forum.
FM@dia FORUM 04: Connecting Free Media is organised by Radio Jeleni,
Econnect (Cz), European Civic Forum, VFRÖ
- Federation of Austrian Free Radios, Radio FRO (At), Radio
Z (Germany) and others.
The Lost Expedition is an experimental
project whose aim is to explore and mediate crucial cultural, technological
and environmental issues, by means of a rotating group of people from diverse
fields such as science, art, technology, social activism etc. The vehicle
of this effort is primarily a mobile workspace, which provides technical equipment
and living quarters for the participants. This roving laboratory employs advanced
communications technologies for gathering and transmitting data from innovative
and unusual research. The project is especially concerned with mediating seemingly
ambiguous, marginal or superfluous ideas/facts/events/knowledge/patterns.
The Lost Expedition's goal is to detect, collect, archive, link, contextualize, emit and channel these patterns into the existing discourse as well as to initiate new discourse. L.E. presumes a broad interpretation of the term "networking", and serves as a transient model for civic dialogue, addressing questions of liberty, human rights, mobility, ecology, communication, and of humanistic approaches to technology and science. In this respect L.E. is a symbol of a mental seed-data bank, a motorized Ark. L.E. is interested distinctly in creating a multi-layered communication field, bringing the personal and public, banal and anomalous into the same framework. It can also facilitate the creation of new contacts between a variety of geographical and cultural niches, particularly those who are affected by the standardizing and homogenizing effects of globalization. It will trace the evolving mental and physical landscape principally within the geographical area of Eastern and Western Europe in the period from 2004, via the itinerant mobile lab, the MLOK Vehicle (The Multifunctional Loco-motivated Oblivion Kit Vehicle).
The project is organized by The Lost Expedition Brother/Sisterhood, an open transnational, non-profit body consisting of artists, social activists, journalists, scientists, and other researchers, and a group of individuals who are responsible for constructing, maintaining and operating the content and the technology.
Partners: Center for Contemporary Art in Prague, Academy
of Sciences of The Czech Republic, Technical Faculty of Charles University
Prague, Technical University Brno, Institut of Postvirtual Reality, Harrachstal.
(The project was designed as the result of activities of The Center
for Metamedia, Cafe9.net, The Pantograph
Project and others).
Draft: Prague February 2004
Some weeks after the EU-enlargement in mid 2004, B04--BORDER 04 will shift the focus to the folds and fringes, the margins and new borders of the official Europe.
B04 is the common framework for a wide range of local and
remote, mobile and stationary activities taking place in summer 2004. It is
a modular, temporary, and tactical association of various new media and network
initiatives from East and West Europe, from outside as well as within the
new Europe. In order to explore the constitutive power of an emerging political
culture of networking, an international and interdisciplinary coalition of
fine art and performance artists, human rights and new media activists, filmmakers,
video- and fotografers, researchers, scientists and investigators will set
a series of events in motion that surround, circumvent and perforate the borders
B04 is a two month, virtual travel along both sides of the new, outer borders of an enlarged European Union, starting in Riga and moving around Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria and Slovenia to Zagreb.
The project seeks to review and research practices of networking that are already redefining the political geography of Europe. In the ongoing diversification of the social, processes of integration can no longer be clearly separated from mechanisms of exclusion. The working out of these tensions at a political and economic level is producing new levels of complexity as well as new opportunities for creative and experimental projects that challenge orthodoxy and convention. B04 will connect and shortcircuit debates around migration with debates about the expansion of the borders of the EU, around mobility, mobile technologies and freedom of movement, about the already within Europe and those previously outside it.
Tracing the routes of migration
The many faces of migration are producing dramatic changes, that are not only affecting local and remote economies. People in transit, commuters between East and West, seasonal and domestic workers form new concepts of Europe, that are based on mobility, no matter if unsolicited or unvoluntarily.
Mapping the spaces in between
Theoretically it's only a small drift from what lies beyond the limitations of national imagination to the imaginations of those outside of it. But in practice, the spaces between Europe and non-Europe are being dispersed, extracted and contracted by numerous movements of very different actors on an unknown and ever-changing field.
Crossing the borders from the real to a virtual europe
Leaving traditional political and geographical notions of Europe behind the information and communication technologies as well as the flows of migration do shape a virtual europe, that is defined by it's openness rather than it's borders. There is an unrepresentable multitude of europes to be discovered and explored.
Working on these three fields of interest B04 will consist of four modules that will be developed by independent organizing teams, that are networking among each others:
In order to investigate the subjectivities of a new generation of europeans and the constitutive power of young people networking across borders, research units will work on frequently asked questions: How does a re-designed european border regime change the daily life of the people in the areas of the new border regions? Which stories, experiences and what desires do people have, that live on this and that side of the new border of the official, but in the midst of a virtual Europe? What does living conditions of people that are on the move look like? On the move into illegality or into precarious labour or into detention centers? How do workers of the worldmarket factories struggle and organise -- in- and outside of the new external european border?
B04 will involve leading international artists and local community organisers in workshops and training programs in both an adhoc and a sustainable fashion adressing the needs of local activists and civil society. It will focus on skill-sharing to enable and empower young people with the practical use of new media technologies by providing connectivity, introducing open source software and offering unfettered access to communication tools. There will be a special focus on the potential of digital media to facilitate dialogue and communication across national borders, and on the power of filmmaking, photography and storytelling in the negotiation of emerging, hyphenated identities.
In order to present the images and narratives of an emerging european culture that is currently created around the issues of information society and transnational mobility, B04 will present exhibitions, screenings and performances in public spaces and in close collaboration with local and international artists and art institutions.
In order to document the experiences, acquaintances, results and achievements of the project publically, in real-time or near on real-time internet connectivity is one of the key issues. B04 will be accompanied by a specially equipped van that provides a high-bandwith internet connection via satellite. Using all available media from print to radio to video in different output-formats the real-time documentation of a project at such an extend aims to facilitate dialogue and interactive communication between Europe's diverse peoples, new and old. The ultimate goal is to build a new vision of Europe that moves on against exclusion, resentment, localism, narrow-mindednesss, racism and xenophobia.
Currently the B04 developer team is in touch and discussing the concept with a multitude of institutions, fundations, media centers and local initiatives from all over Europe:
KUDA.ORG (Novi Sad), MaMa (Zagreb), Ljudmila
(Ljubljana), Radio B92 (Belgrad), K@2 Culture & Information
Center (Karosta, Latvia), RIXC Riga New Media Center
(Riga, Latvia), Open Society Institute (Budapest), Center
for Political Education (Germany), D-A-S-H networking
against exclusion (Europe wide internet platform, supported by the YOUTH program
of the EU-Comission) and many more.
maf_media art farm (former name: Caucasian
Center for Cultural Development, CCCD) was established in April 2000 as an
independent Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) that supports the development
of contemporary visual culture in the Caucasus. maf intends to develop and
promote a multi-cultural dialogue in the Caucasus and to focus on acute social
and political questions by undertaking visual research. maf provides links
to four spheres: education, information, network and innovation.
In September 2001 maf launched the Caucasian Institute of Photography and New Media (the maf_Institute) in order to promote the education in the field of contemporary arts in the Caucasus. At the moment 22 students are enrolled in the faculty of photography, a four-year educational programme licensed by the Ministry of Education of Georgia. At present the maf_Library containing more than 3500 volumes represents the first large collection of publications on contemporary art, photography, new media, architecture and design in the region of the Caucasus. The maf_Library is open to all interested persons who want to become library member.
By organising interdisciplinary projects as well as by providing adequate infrastructure maf is establishing a platform for contemporary culture in the Caucasus. The platform creates an environment where artists can meet and present their work within an international network. At the same time it hosts outstanding Caucasian and foreign artists and their exhibitions. In October 2001 maf started the project called "appendix", which takes place in Tbilisi every second year, and researches the position of the South-Caucasian countries in nowaday's world through the eyes of artists from both inside and outside of the Caucasus.
maf aims to promote contemporary art and new media forms as a possible way of communication, reflection and cooperation. The maf_Box, a new media lab, was established to provide conceptual and technical facilities to students, artists as well as NGO's dealing with current social, political and cultural issues.
Born in 1967 in Novi Sad. Applied linguist and educator.
As a member of association APSOLUTNO (Novi Sad), participated in numerous
arts & new media symposia, festivals and exhibitions. Presented at applied
linguistics conferences and published in linguistics journals (System, Novelty,
Writing Center Journal). Teaches academic writing at Central European University
in Budapest. Currently working on her doctoral dissertation on citation and
intertextuality in academic writing (Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest).
State of Sabotage in Novi Sad on state visit
1. SoS IMMIGRATION OFFICE and CONSULATE in NOVI SAD
The SoS state will install a temporary SoS Immigration office and consulate during the TRANSEUROPEAN PICNIC in Novi Sad. At the Forum opening, the consulate will be presented by 3 representatives and SoS passports will be issued. The SoS Immigratio Office remains open through the duration of the Festival via printed material, applications, videos, and an SoS shop. The consulate consists of a long table, chairs, video projection equipment, a shop, and a flash photography station for passport photos. Also its planned to present the SoS consulate in the streets of Novi Sad via Megaphones and performance.
Representives for SoS Immigration office and consulate:
ROBERT JELINEK (A/SoS)
MICHAEL CRANACH (A/SoS)
THILGES (A/SoS) Live Act
2. SoS STATE ART
The SoS will present art works of the following artists:
HEIMO ZOBERNIG (Passports), Vienna/A
FRANZ GRAF (Flag), Vienna/A
HR GIGER (Video), Zurich/CH
THILGES (Music), Vienna/A
3. SOUP OF SABOTAGE
On the opening evening, guests will be served the transnational dish SOUP
OF SABOTAGE free of charge. The "Soup of Sabotage" is a contribution by
the French artist ANABELLE HULAUT. In the creation of the
soup, the word "sabotage" is used as an acronym, formed out of culinary
ingredients. The soup is made from the Serbia; hence the respective national
language is taken to choose the ingredients. The soup will be offered to
the guests during the events. The "Sabotage Soup" is a tradition in the
SoS state and will always be offered at every SoS event worldwide.
4. SoS PICKNIC
During the Transeuropean Forum the SoS State will install also two Tibetian Tents. The tents will be used as an neutral space for communication, debates with between representives and guests. Videos, Screenings aswell music line up from Viennese producers will be presented.
First initiated as a project by artist Robert Jelinek in 1992, in operation as an international music/art label, collective and organization since 1994, Sabotage has now, in 2003, drawn its own artistic conclusions and declared itself a state - a state in time, with constantly expanding citizens' territories, but without the demarcation of national own an SoS passport and enjoy the status of an SoS citizen. SoS is a physically vital collective body, installed in real everyday social and political space. It is a growing organism whose dynamics, spirit and diversity are shaped by the citizens themselves.
The project [Sensor Diet] consists of two parts: an audio part, which is compiled of two components (analog/digital output), and a visual part. The analog audio part offers a performance with turntables, spinning records from the Soviet times. The latter are: Georgian and Russian fairy-tales, narrated by different voices and articulations, and various language courses for the Georgian population, containing all the conventional language-session elements.
The digital audio part will be executed from different electronic devices: MD player; laptop, etc. alongside with the analog performance, and presents Georgian telecom operator network speeches mixed with the shifting frequency noises.
The visual part elaborates on the aforementioned audio output, by overlapping two systematic and periodical frameworks in terms of motion and gestures. The video is a double edit of the news program vijaysfrom Soviet period television, and current television in Georgia. The image thus presents two layers simultanously.
Anabala will base their Novi Sad performance 'Transistan' on their experiences acquired through living in Istanbul. Founder members Murat Ertel and Ceren Oykut live at the Asian part (Anatolian side) of Istanbul and travel through European side almost everyday. They travel 70 km. per day at least breaking the symbolic, geographical, and sociological borders of these two controvert ional continents.
Ertel, mostly a musician and Oykut,mostly a painter transfer their artistic concentration onto each others. They create multi-disciplinary pieces by taking the aspects of humour, parody and surprise as the basic elements of their performances.
Anababala also performed for the exhibition "Walking Istanbul, Notes from the Quarantine" in The Digital Lab, Holon, Tel-Aviv. (2003-2004)
Hubert Czerepok (PL) in collaboration with M. Bakke, 2002, 14'47''
The video is a sort of documentary, wherein all interviewed people are asked whether they know anything about Polish art. In addition they are also questioned whether they have any knowledge about particular incidents related to censoring art in Poland within the past years. After a while one realises that the people answering the questions are not really familiar with the subject, and just repeat clichés. At the end of the video it is almost certain that the viewer ends up knowing much less about Polish art than before.
Hubert Czerepok (PL)
Was born in Slubice in Poland, a small town near the Polish - Germany border. He holds a BA in woodcarving and received his MFA in sculpture and drawing from the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznan (PL). He spent half a year in Norway, in the research program of the National Academy of Fine Arts in Oslo, trying to become a Scandinavian artist. From 2002-2003 he was a researcher at the Fine Arts Department of the Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht, yet another small town, this time near the Dutch, Belgian and German border. Currently he is based in Antwerp (B),where he attends the HISK (Higher Institute for Fine Arts). Hubert has shown work a.o. in Poland, The Netherlands, Estonia, Latvia and Germany.
Joost Conijn (NL), 2002, 31'
In the summer of 2001 Joost Conijn built a car. The car is made out of wood, and runs on wood as well, using wood as fuel instead of petrol. With this wood car Conijn undertakes a journey through several countries in Eastern Europe: Romania, Ukraine, Albania. Independent from petrol, he leaves conventional roads behind him. There is no preset destination. The artist travels towards the unknown, the camera covers it all. The main plan is to make a film about the unexpected the wood car will engender. In order to keep the motor running, Conijn travels through woods. Across little villages, people guide him to local saw-mills and offer him some food and spare wood. The car serves as an artless intermediary.
Starting point for the work of Joost Conijn is the artist's fascination for other worlds, alternative ways of life just outside the accommodated environment. Travelling is to him like an uncontainable urge, just like his need for adventure. Every journey unravels an accumulation of unforeseen events and ingenuous exchange. "Wood car" stems from Conijn's desire to move and transport himself independently and open-mindedly, questioning cultural presumptions connected to dominant frameworks in western society. His former films "Car on roof "(1996), "C'est une hek" (1997) and "Airplane" (2000) mainly focus on the vehicle: the mechanics and the notion of moving. Currently, his point of view is gradually shifting towards people and cultures close to life's basic conditions.
Similar to his working process, the film's imagery is simple, natural, poetic, anachronistic yet attentive. His drive is unbeatable: living intensely, giving it all.
kuda.org - new media
Brace Mogin 2
PO Box 22, Detelinara
21113 Novi Sad, Serbia and Montenegro
Anabala is multidisciplinary project concentrating on Istanbul's sounds and cult. The project consist of two artists: Murat Ertel, mostly a musician and Ceren Oykut, mostly a painter transfer their artistic concentration onto each others. They create multi-disciplinary pieces by taking the aspects of humour, parody and surprise as the basic elements of their performances.
Anabala took its name from a passage at central Istanbul where two founder members rented an empty shop for 30 dollars for a month. They tried to form a fake shop only using the material which were leftovers (or ruins) from the previous shop, which was a tattoo shop. During this one month period they recorded the voices they heard and have made at the shop during the day and mixed them by night. At the end all those mixes formed the first album. One song out of it made it to the sound art compilation album called "ctrl-alt-del" as an outcome of an joint project on sound art developed both in Istanbul and Maastricht. (2003) Anababala also performed for the exhibition "Walking Istanbul, Notes from the Quarantine" in The Digital Lab, Holon, Tel-Aviv. (2003-2004).
Anabala has stared collaboration with musicians, sound-artists and visual artists from Köln, Germany and formed another group called K34 -Köln-Istanbul Cultural Exchange Project.
Based on a novel by Slobodan Tisma (SCG), directed by
Andras Urban (SCG)
Slobodan Ti¹ma (SCG)
Born May 14, 1946. Studied literature at the Faculty of Philosophy in Novi
Sad. In the late sixties he began working with the Novi Sad Youth Platform
and was involved in the Index student newspaper of which he soon became editor.
At this time he was engaged in conceptual art and poetry. In 1977 his poetic
'masterpiece', A Garden Like That (Vrt kao To), appeared
in Letopis Matice srpske (the magazine of the Central Serbian Cultural
and Publishing Society), and with this he suspended his involvement in literature
and art. At the end of the seventies, with his interest in rock 'n roll reawakened,
he formed the group La strada. In the early eighties he was the singer
for Luna, and with the reformation of La strada in 1986,
an album of the same name was released. In the late eighties he withdrew from
public life and began writing a poetic diary, which was eventually to be published
as Blues Diary in 2001. During the nineties he published two collections
of poetry: Marina-isms (Marinizmi, 1995) and A Garden
Like That (1997), which gathered poems he had written and published in
magazines during the seventies. In the latter half of the nineties he also
began writing short stories. Selected stories were published in the Kikinda-based
Severni bunker (Northern Bunker) and in the Novi Sad-based
Polja (Fields), were translated into both Macedonian and
Italian, and were also published in anthologies of short stories by new authors
writing in the Serbian language. His stories have no formal completion or
wholeness, they begin from nowhere and finish abruptly. They present textual
segments in which the non-existent author (subject) questions his own position.
He lives and works in Novi Sad.
Andra¹ Urban (SCG)
Born 04.10.1970, in Senta (Vojvodina, Serbia and Montenegro). After completing
secondary school for legal studies, in 1989 he enrolled at the Academy of
Arts in Novi Sad, majoring in theatre production under Prof. Vlatka Gilic.
This study was interrupted between 1993-97, and was then continued under Prof.
Bora Dra¹kovic until graduation in 2000. In 1988, with a group of his peers
he founded the well-known theatre group AIOWA. He is a member of the Nyari
Mozi-Letnji Bioskop (Summer Cinema) Theatre Ensemble, and for years has
been active as both an organizer and participant in the Body Weather Laboratory.
He is employed as a director and artistic secretary with the Deszso Kosztolanyi
Theatre in Subotica. Alongside both informal and formal performances and happenings
with AIOWA and Nyari Mozi, significant works he has brought to the stage include:
Lizards (Gu¹teri) - Andras Urban - 1988, Senta - KCM
Dew (Rosa) - Andras Urban - 1989, Senta - KCM - AIOWA Wozzeck - Georg Buchner - 1992, Subotica National Theatre Hamlet - William Shakespeare - 1992, Belgrade National Theatre,
KPGT, BITEF (Belgrade International Theatre Festival)
1993 - began directing I. Loyola's, The Tenets of the Jesuit and Calderon's,
Life is a Dream Fuck Whoever Started It All (Mamu mu...ko je poceo prvi)
- Dejan Dukovski, Deszso Kosztolanyi Theatre Picnic on the Front (Pinik na frontu) - Fernando Arrabal
- 2001 - Deszso Kosztolanyi Theatre
2002 - work with young people in Topola on a work by Molière
2002 - host of a workshop on experimental theatre at Minimum Party in Romania:
Falling Free - work demonstration
2002 - participant in the Balkan Stage workshop and seminar dedicated to Balkan
dramaturgy, work in Bulgaria on performance of Lazarica by Jordan
Radichkov: Winter Stage Children (Deca) - Janos Pilinsky, William Shakespeare, Henry
Miller - 2003, Senta Curve of Death (Okuka smrti) - Otto Tolnai - 2003, an MASZK
and Andras Urban troupe production, Szeged, Hungary January - Jordan Radichkov - 2003, Stoyan Bucvarov Dramatic Theatre,
by NOMAD (TR) 30'
NOMAD (TR) is an independent formation founded in 2002. It
targets to produce and experiment new patterns in the digital art sphere by
using various lenses of other disciplines. The core of the formation consists
of designers, engineers, architects, curators and writers. Therefore, the
infrastructure is based on technical and theoretical levels to provide collaborations
with affiliations of artists.
Hatice Güleryüz' films orbit around the mental states of suppressing social situations. She associates and reflects on these mental states with hard-hitting physical conditions. She describes Four Images as "A film about a suggestion of a memory-image, or the representation of fragmentary moments of recollection that happen in the mind".
Hatice Güleryüz studied fine arts in Turkey, attended artist-in-residence
programmes in Berlin, Munich, and London. She obtained her MFA from the Hogeschool
voor de Kunsten Arnhem (NL), and from the Willem de Kooning Academie, Rotterdam
(NL). From 2002-2003 Hatice ws a reseracher at the Fine Arts Department of
the Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht (NL).
"No (or bad signal)", Ali Demirel, 1998- 2004 (2')
No (or bad signal) shows a state of mobility fused into the transmitting confusion of broadcasting technology, and operation logic.
Ali Demirel studied Architecture and Audio-Visual Media at
Middle-East Technical University. He is an independent video artist with a
serious experimental edge. Instead of using video images to create a narrative,
he uses loop-based found or shot images, to reach a sensory stimulation which
is minimal and hypnotic. He makes videos since 1993, focusing on minimal,
repetitive, detached, hypnotic images. He also collaborated with musicians
like Richie Hawtin (a.k.a. Plastikman), Can Oral (a.k.a. Khan, Captain Comatose),
and Anthony Rother. His works have been exhibited at EMAF (European Media
Arts Festival), Osnabruck (DE); Transmediale, Berlin (DE); The Resonant Wave
Festival, Berlin (DE); International ShortFilm Festival, Hamburg (DE); The
Wandering Eye Film Festival, New York (US); Witness Film Festival, New York
(US); turbulence.org (with Xurban collective).
Blatta(nt) Orientalis(t) is a computer generated animation
with 3D oversized cockroaches trying to find an exit, running around hasty,
gathering in corners and behaving like a herd with no organization. The video
track is paired with a soundtrack directly referring to the realm of computer
arcade games, where the player is kept always on the run to proceed throughout
the game. The name of the work involves black humour, which is incorporated
throughout the work.
Erhan Muratoglu is an interactive designer and digital artist.
He studied Industrial Design and Graphic Design (MFA in Graphic Design at
Bilkent University), and worked and exhibited in Turkey, United Kingdom and
United States with his computer graphic generated projects. He was awarded
by Kodak, 11th. International Ankara Film Festival, Ifsak, and 11th. International
Istanbul Short-film Days for his experimental films. He is one of the members
of NOMAD. Erhan works as a lecturer in the Department of Visual Communication
Design of Bahcesehir University, Istanbul.
"Fox Dance", Babazula, 2003 (1')
Fox Dance is a video clip created as a stop-motion animation. The piece is based on our relationship with life through objects and ideas in motion.
BabaZula is a music group, founded in 1996 by Levent Akman
(percussion, rhythm machines, toys), Murat Ertel (saz and other strings,vocal)
and Emre Onel (darbuka, sampler, vocal) in Istanbul. In 2003 they were joined
by Oya Erkaya (bass guitar,vocal). BabaZula's music is basically an amalgamation
of recorded natural sounds with both traditional and modern acoustic and electronic
musical instruments: a culmination of disparate electronic effects. Starting
out with improvisations, later fixed into musical elements which make up their
music such as theme, tune, style and sound, reached through recordings and
rehearsals, the group has carried their method of "defined improvisation"
into concerts, movies, and theatrical plays. The use of video, slides and
films in their live performances, is prepared by additional members, who have
joined forces with the core group. BabaZula's debut album, " Tabutta Rovasata
(Somersault in the Coffin)", including the original soundtrack for Dervis
Zaim's first movie, was released in 1996. Their album, " 3 Oyundan 17 Müzik"
was released in 1999. BabaZula made the soundtrack of the film " Renkli Türkçe
(Colored and in Turkish)". They performed in Efes Pilsen Festival and Mediteranneen
Film Festival, and also had big scale concerts such as "Printemps de Bourges".
Their latest album "Psychobelly Dance Professor) was released in May 2003,
mastered by Mad Professor.
"Diagonal Escape", Ergün Yildiz 2001' (1')
Diagonal Escape captures a decisive moment of being mobile in order to survive in the city.
Ergün Yildiz graduated from the Department of Painting at
Marmara University in 2001. In 2000 he contributed to 2nd Student Triennial
at Marmara University, and Toprakbank Art Gallery in 2000, Istanbul. In 2001
he exhibited at "The 20th Contemporary Artists Exhibition" of The Association
of Painting and Sculpture Museums The Association of Painting and Sculpture
Museums; "Yeni Öneriler, Yeni Önermeler" in Borusan Art Gallery; "Su,Us,Yolculuklar"
at Marmara University; "7 Gün Sergisi" in Mürteza Fidan Atölyesi, Istanbul.
In 2002, he contributed to the "Imaja Güveniyoruz-2" exhibition in Diyarbakir
Art Center , and most recently he exhibited at the "Holes in the Mirror" exhibition
for the Siemens Art Gallery, Istanbul.
"Vertigo", Tugçe Ulugün Tuna, 2002 (3')
Vertigo is an extract from a dance performance. The performance is based on the relationship between motion and space. Performers examine the limits, appropriation, and transformation of body motion for and against gravity and space.
Tugçe Ulugün Tuna is a choreographer and dancer. She graduated
from M.S.U. State Conservatory, at the Modern Dance Department. She obtained
her MA in 1998 from Mimar Sinan University, at the Social Sciences Faculty,
with the dissertation "Usage of Exterior Space in Dance" and the choreography
"AR'a" (Site specific) Ist.Academy Cinema April 1998. She holds a Ph.D. M.S.U
in Performing Arts from the Social Sciences Faculty. She works as a lecturer
in the modern dance dept. of MSU, Istanbul since 1996. Her teaching responsibilities
involve; Contemporary dance technique, Anatomy, Improvisation, Dance Composition
and Repertory. Tugçe Ulugün Tuna has been involved in numerous dance projects
and choreographies in Turkey and abroad, a small selection include: Cinema,
1998, "System" Istanbul Beyoglu Cinema', 1998, Int. Symposium' Ankara, 2002
--Taksim Stage;"Solitude" 7th.International Solo-Tanz Theatre Festival 20-March-2003
Stuttgart. Her choreographies include a.o.: "Dance of Flowers" (Ist.)'02 -
"Step"(IDT.Taksim Stage, Ist)'01 - "Passageway" (IDTTS,Ist)'01 "Complementary"(
IDTTS,Ist)'01 - "Don't forget me"(IDTTS, Ist.) '01 "Depth"(IDTTS,Ist.)'00,
and many more.
Reasonably priced flights to Serbia are usually available via JAT (Yugoslav Air Transport). http://www.jat.com/
The nearest airport is in Belgrade. There are 3 options for getting from Belgrade to Novi Sad:
Taxi: 5.000 dinars/70 EUR per car (there more passengers
- the cheaper)
Bus: there is no direct line from the airport to Novi Sad. In front of the main entrance to the airport, you can take a bus to the Central Bus Station in Belgrade. From there you have frequent connections to Novi Sad (see below)
Train: next to the Central Bus Station in Belgrade is the Central Railway Station with services to Novi Sad (see below)
Another option is to fly to Budapest (HU), and take a direct train from Budapest's Keleti station to Novi Sad (see below).
Budapest - Novi Sad (405 km)
Trains twice daily: 13:30 and 22:48 from Budapest, starting from Keleti Railway Station.
Is a curator, writer and designer based in Istanbul. She
studied both Literature and Graphic Design (MFA in Graphic Design and Ph.D.
in Art, Design and Architecture at Bilkent University). She attended the 7th
Curatorial Training Programme of Stichting De Appel, Amsterdam, has been writing
on art, technology and mass media since 1995, and initiating projects and
curating exhibitions both in Turkey and Europe since 1996. She was the editor
of art-ist 6. Basak is one of the founding members of NOMAD. In 2003, through
NOMAD, she developed "ctrl-alt-del" (a joint project with NL) as the first
sound art project held in Turkey; she worked for the Istanbul Biennial; curated
"Contemporary Plastic" with ROR, Marres, Maastricht; and developed Istanbul
projects through exhibitions, performances and film programmes: "Istanbul,
Daydreaming in Quarantine" , Graz and "Walking Istanbul, Notes from
the Quarantine", The Israeli Center of Digital Art, Holon (with Erden Kosova,
Erhan Muratoglu, Ozlem Ozkal and Emre Erkal). She also developed projects
for The Apartment Project, Istanbul. In 2004, she develops another NOMAD project
"Loosing Control" (by collaborating with The Israeli Center of Digital Art)
in Istanbul, and will coordinate the NOMAD section for ZKM (Karlsruhe, DE)
"Call Me Istanbul" exhibition. She currently works as vice chair and lecturer
at the Department of Art Management of T.C. Yeditepe University, Istanbul.
Galia Dimitrova is the curator and art program coordinator at InterSpace Media Art Centre, where she works since 1999. She graduated Art History and Theory at the National Fine Arts Academy, Sofia in 1999. She has published a number of articles on contemporary Bulgarian art. Her professional interest is in new media art, net-based projects and interactive installations. Among her curatorial projects are: "Urban Cycles", "Macrovideo" (public space video installations), "Schizoid Architecture" (net-art), etc. She was the curator of the official Bulgarian participation at 9th Cairo Biennial' 2004. She is the main coordinator of Net User International Internet Conference that takes place bi-annually in Sofia.
, InterSpace Media Art Center, Sofia
at Trans-European Picnic, Novi Sad
The presentation will give introduction to exStream project (www.ex-stream.net)
- a two-year collaborative project supported by Culture 2000 Programme of
European Union, in which five media art organisations: Hull Time Based
Arts (Hull, UK); V2_ (Rotterdam, NL); Bootlab
(Berlin, DE); interSpace Media Art Center (Sofia, BG); t0
/ Institute for New Culture Technologies - Public Netbase (Vienna,
AT), are working together through the exchange of organisational, artistic
and technological resources to create a common platform for the creation and
distribution of new media art projects.
ExStream network and activities will be presented from the
perspective of the only South East European partner in the project - InterSpace
MAC. Therefore I will highlightInterSpace output to the project and the local
feedback and will present StreamStudio and Radio Cult, which are the first
multimedia open source software tools produced in Bulgaria by InterSpace in
the framework of exStream project..
StreamStudio is a complex solution for broadcasting of audio
and video in Internet as well as for other distribution environments like:
local networks (LAN), cable televisions, wireless networks, etc. http://streamstudio.sf.net
Radio.cultis open source based platform for audio broadcasting via Internet.
Radio.Cult is designed as a 24 hour on-line radio that popularize
young Bulgarian musicians, DJ's, artists, also as a forum for ideas exchange
and presentation of the cultural life in Bulgaria. http://radio.cult.bg
In the presentation I will announce the forthcoming final event of exStream
project - the Free Bitflows conference and exhibition in Vienna, June 2-5
Finally I will say shortly about the recent InterSpace activities around open
source initiatives, like the Open Source Software Solutions for Bulgarian
NGOs training programme (http://opensource.netuser.cc)
Pavel Braila (MD), 2002, film shot on DV transferred to DVD (26')
"Shoes for Europe" probes a politically enforced East-West-differentiation
- against the backdrop of historical transition - as inscribed into the everyday
experience of traveling and commuting. In the small frontier train station
of Ungheni at the Moldavian-Romanian border, every train stops for three hours
and is lifted two meters in the air to change wheels from Russian Gauge used
in Moldova to Standard Gauge used in Romania and Western Europe. The trains'
laborious passage between East and West (which is illegally recorded by the
artist since no shooting is officially allowed in the Moldavian border area)
hosts a double fantasy structure of an ever growing desire to gain access
to Western Europe, with the prevailing notion demanding the homogenization
of communicative and technological tools to neutralize distance and place.
Shot in digital video, two images are projected mirroring the ever-present
subject of how to locate and mediate subjectivity in times of fragmentation,
dislocation and a new myth of transnational identity.
Pavel Braila (MD)
Was born in Chisinau, Republic of Moldova, and divides his time between
Tourcoing (FR) and Chisinau. He obtained his diploma of engineer-mechanic
from the Technical University of Moldova, Chisinau in 1994, and the Diploma
of Translator-Reviewer from the State University of Moldova, Chisinau.
From 2000 - 2001 he was a researcher at the Fine Arts Department at the
Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht (NL). Currently he is at Le Fresnoy, Studio
National des Arts Contemporains, in Tourcoing (FR).
Working in video and performances, Pavel Braila has developed a subjective
vocabulary in which the traversal of space has taken on a broad range of
culturally and economically coded significances.Pavel has performed and
exhibited widely internationally. A selection include: "Performance white
or Pale Unfinished Thoughts" and "Gedankenaufnahme" at the Kunstbuero, Vienna
(AT), "New Video, New Europe" - The Renaissance Society in Chicago (US),
'PLUG IN' - CCA Futura, Prague (CZ), DELAY - Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen,
Rotterdam (NL), Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia - "Cine y Casi
Cine", Madrid (ES), Biennale of Moving Images in Geneva (CH), BLOOD AND
HONEY Future's In Balkans - The Essl Collection, Vienna (AT), Documenta11,
Kassel (DE), Video-Zone- media-video bienale Tel-Aviv (IL), Art Biennale
WRO, Wroclaw (PL), VIPER,International Festival for Film Video and New Media,
Basel (CH), EMAF - European Media Art Festival,Osnabruck (D), Transit,Group
Exhibition of Moldavian Contemporary Art; Cluj Napoca (RO), AFTER THE WALL"-Exhibition
of Art in Post Communist Europe, Moderna Museet, Stockholm (SE), Body and
the East, International PerformanceFestival, Ljubliana (SI), Ostranenie:
International Electronic Media Forum, Dessau (DE), and many many more.
: The Art and Media of Accession is an initiative by New Media Center kuda.org, Novi Sad (SCG) and V2_Institute for the Unstable Media, Rotterdam (NL).
, Novi Sad (SCG)
kuda.org is a non-profit organization of artists, theorists and media activists propagating a critical attitude towards Internet culture through research, presentations and cultural production in the field of Information and Communication Technologies. www.kuda.org
, Rotterdam (NL)
V2_ is a center for electronic art and media technology actively engaged in creating and supporting the relationships and interactions between differentforms of electronic based media in artistic, cultural and scientific disciplines. www.v2.nl
: Branka Curcic, Jelena Klasnja, Stephen Kovats, Kristian Lukic, Nat Muller,
Zoran Pantelic, Orfeas Skutelis
: Branka Curcic, Jelena Klasnja, Stephen Kovats, Kristian Lukic, Nat Muller,
Zoran Pantelic, Orfeas Skutelis
: Branka Curcic, Stephen Kovats, Kristian Lukic, Nat Muller, Zoran Pantelic
: Stephen Kovats, Kristian Lukic, Nat Muller, Zoran Pantelic
: Jelena Klasnja
: Orfeas Skutelis
: Cultural Center Novi Sad, EXIT
: Rajko Bozic, Kristian Lukic, Richard de Boer
: Slavica Danic, Miroslava Milutinov
: Slavica Danic, Predrag Nikolic
: Bojana Petric, Orfeas Skutelis, David Williams
: Jovan Milinov, Kino Klub
And to all Picnics' participants
Florian Schneider is a writer, filmmaker and net activist.
He concentrates on how new communication and migration regimes are being attacked
and undermined by critics of borders and networks. Schneider is one of the
initiators of the No One is Illegal campaign and one of the founders of the
noborder network and the Europe-wide internet platform, D-A-S-H. In 2001 he
designed and directed the make world festival in Munich, and organised metabolics,
a series of lectures on net art and net culture. He has also worked on several
documentaries for the German-French television station, Arte, including What's
to be done? which looks at contemporary activism. He also writes for major
German newspapers, magazines, journals and handbooks.
Born in Belgrade. She left Yugoslavia and went to Belgium in 1992. Dramaturge. She has not been writing fiction since 1991. In 1992, she began working in the collective "Eimigrative Art" (Concentration culture camp), where the only artistic work was the forbidden meeting between the people of the ex-Federation (Louvain-La Neuve, Antwerp, Luxembourg). As of 1998, the collective works with the Movement of the People Without Papers of Belgium and the Cultural Committee for the defense of the 13 accused workers of Belgium's Clabec iron works, and the Renault factory in Vilvorde. The latest project of the Eimigrative Art is the publishing of the book "Farewell To Parties - People Think, People Speak".
The name Belgradeyard Sound System refers to the 2-hour weekly radio show broadcasted at Radio B 92 (Wednesdays, 00-02 AM), the authors being Goran Simonoski and Relja Bobic. After three years of their active presence on the local music and cultural scene, the first idea of presenting non-commercial, contemporary production of all music genres is clearly seen in all events bearing this mark. Original musical productions under the same name are being released by the British label Cosmic.Sounds, as well as the German Klangkrieg and the Slovenian rx:tx. Until the end of 2004, a full-length debut by this project will also see the light of day. In order to promote this material in a live context, the band of the same name has been formed, with the founding memebrs on programming and additon of the double-bass player Ivan Antic. The band has already performed in London, Budapest, Berlin, Graz, Ljubljana... The most important project is the festival of electronic music Dis-patch held in Belgrade, which will countinue to present the current names of the global electronic scene to Yugolslav audience each October.
group of authors: Milica Lapcevic, Vladimir Sojat, Vam¹i, Nebojsa Milenkovic,
(SCG), 2004, 4'
Sophia Basic born 1949 in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, was educated as
therapist in abnormal psychology and developmental disabilities, at the University
of Belgrade. She didn't work in her professional field, except for some years
at a school. She worked in a restaurant in Mostar, named after Aleksa Shantic'
poem "Christmas Eve". This restaurant was destroyed, and burned, whereupon
she moved to Belgrade, and started a trade in kiosk on Bulevar kralja Aleksandra
street. Her kiosk is of the type 9-standard, and she has been working in it
for seven years. In October 2003 the municipal authorities issues a "contest"
for the placement of a new type of kiosk at various locations in the city.
Not only did Sophia lose her kiosk location, but her bid to buy a new kiosk
was turned down in favor of other contestants. On November 27th 2003, she
locked herself - in protest - inside the kiosk. Her action runs 24/7, and
she hasn't left to this day. She loves poetry and singing; she is the mother
of two sons and daughter, and her 80-years old father still lives in Bosnia.
We have chosen this example to draw attention to how an individual subject's
agency can establish frames of standardization, which can surpass those established
on a local, as well as on a universal level.
The question arises which sort of agency manifests itself in this particular
case. We can identify 6 different types of agency, working on 6 different
tradition (private family business)
property (existing type of kiosk)
surrounding city structure (attempt to maintain a
resistance to local standardization
resistance to standardization in general
Sophia Basic's story points to various aspects of inhumane
treatment: the communal service staff is offensive towards her; during winter
many expected her to give up her struggle, and succumb to cold, hunger, dirt,
or simply the obvious pointlessness of her action. Authorities surveyed, and
are actually still surveying her from afar. They check whether she remains
inside the kiosk during the night, or whether she leaves in order to get some
warmth and sleep, away from the cardboard and plastic floor of the kiosk.
The mass media are not very interested in her case, or in her origins, which
are an amalgam of deplorable circumstances, namely the destiny of refugee
from Mostar, Bosnia. The fact that nowadays there are a multitude of donations
and funds - promising even to repair Mostar bridge - will not alter her experience
of war, escape and destruction, that so many others share with her. We seem
to digress, but this second chapter of difficulties in her life is very similar
to the first: she finds herself yet again under fatal social pressure.
Sophia Basic is only an example which clearly illustrates that even a mere
change in the system by the implementation of a different set of standards,
can abolish tendencies which at first sight seem in accord with that very
system, such as maintaining a small private business.
The abandonment of Sophia's economic model favors local standardization -
not necessarily conform to EU models - above individual subsistence.
However, the form of her resistance and rebellion remind us that we should
approach matters of standardization in local communities with an open mind.
Issues such as human rights, humanity and empathy towards special cases, are
to be taken into account. The current situation in Serbia leaves governmental
authorities in a standardization quagmire, while trying to navigate between
the old communist structures, new structures, and policies coming from the
EU. No wonder that this state of confusion leads to a loss in value systems,
and a disregard for those victimized by the latter.
The kiosk appears to be a transitional form of trade activity, and hence signifies
much more than just the turnover of goods in the streets. It is an improvised
business space, set aside from architectonically developed and codified edifices.
The potential of this strategy seems like a good solution in a region described
as the "Balkans elephant path", i.e. difficult, atavistic, dark, and enigmatic.
Nevertheless, in the backdrop of migrations, refugee problems, minimal incomes,
and gray economies, evacuated and displaced people try to live their "constant-temporary"
lives in proximity of standardization.
Zelimir Zilnik (SCG), 2003, 74'
In 2002, complying with an European Union ruling, Yugoslavian families (among them many Roma) who had fled their land to escape the war, were deported to Serbia and Montenegro after a stay of ten years in Western Europe. However, the newold homeland has meanwhile become strange to them. There is no money, work, living accommodation, and social contact. How is it possible to survive under these conditions? Zilniks critical documentary film accompanies the taxi driver Kenedi, who, day and night, brings these uprooted people from the airport to the illegal settlements on the outskirts of Belgrade.
Zelimir Zilnik (SCG)
Zelimir Zilnik was born in Serbia, Yugoslavia, in 1942. His first film,
Rani Radovi (Early Works), was awarded the 'Golden Bear' at the Berlinale
international film festival of 1969. In Serbia, the works of this director
of the New Yugoslavian Cinema were officially banned. In 1973, he immigrated
to the Federal Republic of Germany, where his short films critically commented
on the situation of foreign workers, and on terrorism. He was therefore
expelled from the country in 1976, and returned to Yugoslavia. Since then,
Zilnik has worked as an independent documentary film-maker.
interview with Brian Holmes
Q: For the second time we are witnessing the phenomenon of enlargement and unification of the European Union. From one point of view, many people tend to equate the term 'empire' with the USA and its recent aggressive foreign policy strategies. Yet, European integration is conditioned by a strong enforcement of laws and legitimate rules, which have big influences on EU members or future member countries. According to the landscape this strategy is creating, would you say that the European Union presents a new form of 'soft' empire?
BH: Actually, when Negri and Hardt theorized Empire, I think what they were really talking about was the European Union! They thought that the cultural legitimacy, formal law, and constitutional guarantees that seemed so prominent during the Clinton years were going to continue to develop uninterruptedly as a model for kind of global constitutionalism. What happened instead was that America's old nationalist-imperialist right connected to the oil companies, to the major industries and above all to the army, came back and reasserted a classically imperialist paradigm. The European Union can't do that. In fact, what you read about constitutional dynamics in the book "Empire" describes a lot better the way the EU is operating, even if they just failed miserably with the first attempt at a constitution. Still the overall notion of empire has a meaning, which is not just reducible to imperialism. Globalization is articulated around three major regions. The first is the United States, which has firmly established NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), and is trying to extend that over the entire western hemisphere in the form of the FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas), which they probably won't succeed in finishing. Realistically, they are aiming to push all the way down through Central America to Colombia and Venezuela, which will result in an articulated production bloc, over which they would like to have a more or less unified kind of control. The European Union has succeeded in responding to this quite rapidly, promoting its own continental unification with a more social-democratic kind of management. Here the question of legitimacy is much more important than for the Americans, who just need to take control, turn on the TV stations and start enforcing the rules. There is a third area in the world, South East Asia, where there is a beginning of institutional construction called the ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations). It's very unclear what's going to happen there because of the role of Japan, which is the major center of capital accumulation in that part of the world. It appears impossible for the Japanese to assert any kind of central organizing control, because of what they did in World War II, the naked force, the atrocities. So you have this very uncertain situation, where Japan supplies the capital, the Chinese and the rest of the ASEAN countries do the labor, and no one really knows what the future will be. Empire is the controlled disagreement and rivalry between these three very shaky ways of getting people to work together. There is a global market, and the Americans obviously have a global military, but there isn't one global production schema. There are rather three evolving forms of continental integration, each with its own periphery. This is the key thing-each with its own periphery! And that's where we can finally start talking about the constitutionalism of the European Union.
The EU constantly presents itself as an entirely legitimate sort of democratic, integrative thing, based on rights, cultures, languages, exchanges. It wants to present itself as a kind of utopia; but it too has its periphery. In fact, I would say there are two peripheries: an internal periphery, underneath the umbrella of the single currency, and this sort of gigantic free-trade bloc around it. The internal periphery is mainly the former East, where many of the countries are now becoming members of the EU. I'm sure we're going to see a transfer of low-waged jobs to the internal periphery of the EU, and the emergence of an increasing number of mechanisms to maintain the distinction between people living on the periphery and the people living on the center, i.e. Germany, Belgium, Holland, France, Italy and Spain. Of course, England is a kind of pivot for all this, it's the force that tries to draw the whole European construction over into the American bloc, while Germany and France constantly resist England's strategy, as everybody saw so clearly during the last Iraq war. For me, that's the big picture. We have to talk about all that, before we begin to talk about anything specific. Then we get to the question: "What's life like on these two European peripheries?"
Q: Life on the peripheries has already changed. Ten former socialist countries from Central and Eastern Europe are joining the EU on May 1st. The question arises how this periphery, these Eastern countries, are going to fit in? Taking the obvious cultural differences into account: how can they accommodate Western standards? This paradigm shift led by the heritage of socialism-is it going to happen, or is it going to just stay like it is?
BH: I think this is a huge historical process. It's going to
continue, potentially over generations. The initial construction of the EU
involved a lot of attempts to harmonize territorially what was happening in
the member states. There are what they call structural funds, which were given
to Greece, Portugal, Spain, Ireland. Those countries were really the big winners
in the first enlargement of the EU, during the '70s and the '80s particularly.
Of course, this raised a lot of hopes for all the new entrants into the EU,
but what you see now is a bit different. There are nowhere near as much structural
funds available to achieve this kind of equalization and implementation of
a common standard of production and consumption that allowed the Spanish and
the Portuguese to reach the same level as their immediate neighbors, the French.
I don't think they're going to be able to achieve that with the new members,
because the EU has shifted from being a political project to become a free
trade bloc. The inner periphery is not joining the EU that it dreamt of in
the '70s and '80s. It's not a Vaclav Havel, literary sort of thing where they
build theaters and give everyone a fair trial. It's a production machine where
you're ultimately competing with the United States and some combination of
Japan and China. Now, if you go to the outer periphery, it becomes worse.
What is the interest of this space outside the border? From the capitalistic
point of view, the interest is that you can take advantage of weak labor laws,
you can take advantage of all kinds of zones where there are no rights, not
even the relatively meager rights which you're going to have inside the EU.
On the inner periphery, those rights will have to be more or less respected.
But outside, you can really have predatory capitalism. And what is there to
stop it? A historical project for an alternative to capitalism generated cultural
forms which are now rejected, because of, what did they call it? - "democratic
centralism." Basically, the Soviet-style bureaucracy was unbearable, insufferable,
and all those cultural and organizational forms have been rejected. Now the
countries on the outer periphery are going to be exposed to a very savage
form of predatory capitalism. So when you think about what you're going to
do over the next few years, just keep in mind that everywhere there's a need
for the reinvention of cultures of resistance. This need for cultures of resistance
is interesting for all of us, and at the same time very daunting for all of
us, very formidable as a challenge. Because everyone is faced with a similar
mix of situations. You can see the same thing on the edges of the American
bloc. When you live in Latin America, you can use some of the tools that are
coming from the center, but the conditions under which you live are much more
dramatic and savage. People are facing the danger of having no income, of
having no more functioning state to develop any kind of social welfare programs;
and in cultural terms, there is the danger of having no places sheltered from
the market. But this also means that people are forced to take risks, to invent
new structures, to develop new solidarities. The question then becomes: can
people trying to resist the capitalist process in the central areas find ways
to cooperate with people living on the peripheries, while recognizing the
differences and not just confidently exporting the beginnings of whatever
solution or ideology they are finding to areas where the conditions are not
at all the same? I think this would be a question to ask, the question of
Q: We mentioned the first EU enlargement, which invested much more instructional reanimation in institutions, in terms of accommodating certain Western standards. Right now, it seems that the strategy of EU enlargement has changed. Everything seems to be based on power, not on financial investments and structural funds. This approximates what actually exists in Western countries. Could this mean that we are experiencing a process of structuring an open-trade market and locating new labor resources?
BH: At this point, globalization is everywhere a capitalist project, developing simultaneously on the regional and world scales. But this project is always expressed through local systems of governance and culture. In the situation on the external periphery of Europe, as in Serbia, what you are likely to see is a strong manipulation by people who want to create a local system of power, which will develop in parallel to a predatory capture of markets. Markets are very important to the central countries, much more so than labor which can increasingly be done by robots. If you want to get somewhere in the world, invent a consuming robot! In the case of Serbia, there will be a much smaller capture of some kind of labor force. That has happened on a larger scale in other peripheral countries, such as Hungary or the Czech Republic, where they're using what's considered a sophisticated and yet very cheap labor force, somewhat like what the Irish labor force was considered to be in the '70s and '80s. Poland is a third case, which is going to become increasingly important. The question for them is, are they going to be able to develop their education systems as Ireland did? Are they going to emerge from the position of being a cut-rate, unregulated cheap-labor zone? I'm afraid that's not even the question in countries like Serbia. Rather, it's about buying up certain kinds of resources, for instance tourist infrastructure, which is massively owned by Western interests now; so it's about invasively taking over markets. But there's not going to be any particular investment in the political and cultural system of the outer peripheries. The EU wants those countries to remain relatively stable, without too many civil wars-but they will accept anything that works. What we are likely to see, in the absence of any deep institution-building, is the attempt by the local political classes to create some kind of national identity, a folkloric identity, where cultural differences are maintained. And these differences are also maintained to give people a way to explain the tremendous difference between their situation and the situation of people living just on the other side of the border, like the capacity for mobility, for having a job and an education, which is dramatically different. So, if they explain to you that your identity is dramatically different, then this could be quite useful for a political class who wants to find the way to try to set up an enduring structure of governance. Unfortunately, all the things I've just described are also the perfect recipe for inter-ethnic wars, and if you look around, you'll see that those wars are becoming the way that imperial geopolitical management "works"...
So what about people who want to do experiments in media? And what if these are not only experiments in creativity and expressivity, but also in connectivity, in organization, in processes of what I would call micro-representation, where you find a way to network among small groups? All this is a very contemporary experiment in democracy. It's also a self-managed educational process. It also trains a sophisticated labor force. And it even opens up markets for consumer electronics, for media products, for lifestyles and all those things. So the small, independent initiatives are at the center of all the contradictions! For these good reasons you will get a lot of interest from the European civil societies and from the EU cultural funders, plus a much more ambivalent treatment from the local political class, for which you are at once a kind of promise and a kind of threat, simultaneously. The easy solution, of course, is to be the poster boys and girls for a cultural modernization that only happens in a few bureaucrats' dreams. Or to be the gadflies of a hometown techno-class that interfaces between the local power-brokers and the EU businesses. But neither of those solutions are really enough when you have to live under the constant shadows of fascism, civil war, international intervention, and the whole disaster show that goes along with capitalist globalization. So I guess the question of what used to be called "institution-building" gets somehow real again, but in a different way.
Q: Those small, independent initiatives that you have mentioned don't necessarily need to stay small, with limited influence. When we talk about media and new communication technologies, there is always the question of infrastructure. The latter is a very interesting thing, especially in the Eastern part of Europe. Yet, an underdeveloped infrastructure is also a great opportunity for building up mainstream media monopolies. What is the future or are the possibilities for independent media initiatives in Europe and beyond?
BH: There is always the question of the relationship between
alternative media and major media, which we don't talk about enough. If you
want to extend the kinds of experimental practices that you're interested
in, eventually you come to a point where it's a question of enlarging. That
means both enlarging the number of people who are collaborating with you,
and also your infrastructure-your space, equipment base, and the possibility
for people to work on full-time projects. And then you have to confront your
real situation in society. Lot of people became aware of this when Soros pulled
out of places like the former Yugoslavia. There had been a possibility to
develop in a kind of social vacuum, because people came from the US or Northern
Europe with all these ideals of legitimacy and the need for direct democratic
expression and access to media and so on, and they gave a sort of a "jump
start" to lots of initiatives. It wasn't really so different in the central
countries. We saw tremendous growth in these "democratic experiments," experiments
in representation and communication, which initially surfed on the stock-market
boom. They developed along paths of rhizomatic singularization, in a way that
was predicted surprisingly well by Guattari in late '80s and early '90s. But
how far can they go before they come up against the wall of capitalistic culture,
which is basically defined by the major media? How can we stave off the integration
of these new expressive and communicational possibilities into a system of
flexible production, consumption and management that's still beneath the boot
of those who control the major media? I think it's an unresolved question
all over the world. There hasn't been much penetration of the media, because
people don't want to. And they're right! But we do need infrastructure and
a lot more small institutions, which could manage things like festivals, but
with enough autonomy to actually produce access to more than just tools, access
to a whole kind of a culture of self-organization and co-operativity. So far,
what we have is a kind of a floating situation with temporary sorts of gatherings
and great amount of a volunteer work, which is very good. But maybe we need
to find how to expand the volunteer aspect, while creating certain kinds of
infrastructure or institutions that don't bureaucratize or commercialize,
and don't halt the kind of innovation that creates the desire on which everything
is founded. This would be a real development of constituent power, in its
divergence from all the constituted powers. I think that's the interesting
perspective. What Geert Lovink said at the Neuro festival was right: "Things
begin with an event." The event, in the mid and late '90s, was "networked
media becoming accessible." Then came political events: the anti-globalization
movement. And also institutional events: the invention of all these little
media centers. We are now living off those events, and the question is: "How
can we start to invent something that transforms a big surprise into sort
of possibility for many, many smaller ones-without taking away the possibility
of another big surprise?"
Q: Now we come to this question of solidarity, which is present in every kind of process of cooperation, networking and working together. Could you elaborate on the parallel you draw between the movement of non-aligned countries that existed during '60s, and the present situation, where witness a growth of independent social and media movements world-wide.
BH: I think it's something we could all really look out for.
In a text called "Imaginary Maps, Global Solidarities," I wrote about the
non-aligned movement, which was built up in the '60s, particularly around
India, Cuba, and the former Yugoslavia, and which was also an important reference
point for the political resistance movements and counter-cultures of the developed
countries. By evoking that, I just wanted to give a kind of historical analogy
to an unfulfilled possibility of today. I think there is nothing like that
right now, but I also think that something similar will be or already is a
necessity. In the emergence of a stronger cooperation between India, South
Africa and Brazil, there is a kind of direct echo of the non-aligned movement.
But I'm not sure it's enough. I don't think that we've yet seen an invention
in those terms. And I'm not sure that we've really seen an invention with
the "social forum movement" either, because there's a lot of nostalgia for
the non-aligned movement, and for modernist central planning. The ones who
have that nostalgia tend to be the better-organized ones, because they're
still inhabiting the organizations that came out of that period. But the problem
is that they don't face the failures of the modernizing projects. That is
a certain limit on the amount of people who can be integrated into those projects,
leaving behind the massive reality of those who are excluded. You can see
it very clearly in countries like Argentina. It was a modernizing society,
an industrial system with European-style social guarantees, including health
care, public education, retirement benefits and so on. What happened is that
the capitalist project we were talking about before just destroyed that modernizing
attempt, in a process that goes from the dictatorship in Argentina in 1976-83
all the way to the Menem period in the '90s, when public services were massively
sold off, according to the plan of the IMF but to the direct profit of the
local political class. That political class became tremendously rich, along
with the local business class. At the same time, literally half the population
of the country lost the possibility to make a living. So, the question is
what kind of political invention is going to arise to take account of this
disaster that's unfolding in the world? It's really a disaster, and therefore
different kinds of political constructions are arising, you can see them on
the horizon. It's clearest in Latin America. But, the traditional leftist
way, the one that's represented with a great deal of hope by Lula in Brazil,
is probably too closely attached to the stagnant institutions of the industrial
age, and to the power system that put them into place, then partially destroyed
them. What needs to be discovered now are political and organizational forms
that give people the space and resources to take care of themselves, without
forgetting or denying their dependency on everyone else. So what I'm talking
about is not to immediately leap on a bandwagon of the social forums, or of
the Brazil-South Africa-India triangle, although these things are worthy of
our interest. I don't want to deny the tremendous amount of effort that's
going into constructing then, but there will need to be a further step, which
can only happen if you ask the question of who's really included. From this
viewpoint, if you've got your hands on a computer and a video camera, you
are included, you're part of the modern economy. But we are talking about
millions, even billions of people who increasingly don't have enough to eat.
There's the ultimate urgency, and my feeling is that a leftism for our time
will only come together when some network of social groups invents ways of
responding to it on the continental and global scales. In that perspective
the creation of transnational networks is very important, and the question
of solidarity is what kind of active role can people like ourselves have,
people who are included, but in a marginal way. A lot of people living in
the Western European countries are included in a marginal way, we're included
in what is called a "precarious" way, or an "unguaranteed" way. And it's interesting
that a lot of people have actually chosen this position. It's as if they said:
"I don't want to be included in the mainstream project of this predatory capitalism,
I prefer to be on the edges, in a marginal position." From that position,
on the edges of that insane kind of rivalry between the production blocs that
we were talking about before, it may be possible to look and listen enough
to find out what kind of political invention is actually going to happen.
I've begun to travel around the world for that reason, and you can see something
starting. You can participate in it. But as far as I can tell, nobody can
yet say exactly what it is.
(February 2004, Paris; for IFA-Stuttgart journal)
The Westward expansion in the cultural sector started in the early 1990ies.
Poor misguided western curators started flocking to our shores right after
the Berlin Wall fell down. With their eyes wide open and minds full of pre-conceived
and book-based notions about the Socialist World, these darlings wanted to
find out something... At first we all thought they wanted to find out what
had actually happened to all of us after WW II and after 1989. As it turned
out, all they wanted was to find out what had actually happened to them, to
their utopian dreams after the reality, which they never knew first hand,
collapsed. The problem was and still is that this need has rarely, if ever,
been admitted in public. You see, in their view we had betrayed them by refusing
to function as "by proxy" evidence to the fact that a better and more just
society/world is possible at the current stage of human progress. Those darlings
never admitted in public that the collapse of real socialism and the socialist
utopia as we (not them) knew it during the better part of the 20th c. affected
them as much as it affected us. In private people like Frederic Jameson would
admit (during a course on Postmodern Philosophy in Dubrovnik, October 1990)
that "We, western leftist intellectuals, must face up to and develop the ethics
of failure"... In public, people like Catherine David would hint that (in
the Editorial Text of "Politics/Poetics. documenta X - the book", 1997) the
existence and the activities of the Eastern European dissident movements before
1989 was the reason for the destruction of the French Left movement in the
1970-1980ies. You see some French leftist intellectuals sided with the Party
Line in the Socialist countries while others - with the dissidents. That caused
a split in the movement and the Right walked in "on a white horse"... It makes
me wonder - whose life were/are we living anyway?
What happened afterwards was that the evidential material for the failure
of real socialism was brought to the exhibition halls and the residency circuits
of Western Europe and the US for closer examination... I am talking about
artists and art works. Well, that's what they thought... In fact, this shift
was part of the westward expansion of Eastern European art scenes which, by
the way, was paid for by the taxpayer's money from Western Europe and the
US. Not bad tactics, wouldn't you say? In the situation where few people were
really interested to find out what actually happened or what the specific
characteristics of contemporary art in Eastern Europe are, we willingly started
to "sell the corpse of Communism" piece by piece. There was a market for that
until, I would say, 1995 at which point it became obvious that current reality
is much more interesting then the recent past... But that was for us, not
for them. They had cooled down and all they wanted to know about was the repressions,
not the social benefits of socialism, as confused and short-lived as these
might have been. In the face of the pressing concerns of transformation and
talk about NATO and EU membership, of changing societal patterns, construction
of market economy and parliamentary democracy, it seemed that our best chance
for sticking to who we are and yet building up a relevant contemporary agenda
was to maintain, in the words of an anecdote popular in Bulgaria at that time,
that "... we simply chose to take the hardest road to capitalism, via socialism...
but why the hell did we have to do that?" For "them" this was not interesting
enough. Capitalism, as a reality material to be investigated by artists, was/is
much better developed in the West so why would a curator deal with an Eastern
European artist to tell him/her about capitalism? Once again, they missed
the point for as survivors of utopia we were much better equipped to deal
with comparisons between socialism (the way we knew it) and capitalism (the
way we started to "build it up"). They never had this chance. They were naïve,
and in many ways still are, about "the best of both worlds"... The westward
expansion went on although this time it was carried through the efforts of
individual artists, there were no more mass interest and export. At this point,
1995, "their" interest shifted to the non-European and primarily Asian scenes...
Witness the first Gwangju Biennial in South Korea in September 1995 and the
immediately following Istanbul Biennial in Turkey in November 1995. Those
were two events that introduced artists from the Far East, as well as artists
from Muslim countries. The Istanbul Biennial from 1995 in particular, introduced
many female artists from Muslim countries although it featured many artists
from the Balkans as well.
In the following years the westward expansion took different forms. On one
level, these were rather more equal and reciprocal for we were now "the wise
man" who hadn't much to say but have been through a lot (hence, conference
participations) and consequently could be invited to exhibitions on the basis
of "just art not exoticism". On the other hand though, it became visible that
differences are not as big as it seemed before - our colleagues in the West
were having as many difficulties making a living as artists as we did... Of
course, a part-time job in Switzerland would bring in significantly more income
then a part-time job in Sofia, Moscow or Prague, but still, most artists need
a part-time job to finance their project, right? The most enlightening moment
though was when we realized that thousands of artists all over the world survive
only because of residencies, state support in the form of stipends (see Holland
in the 1990ies) or purchases of art works (see the FRAC system in France),
and so on. The socialist system of support for the arts, as we had that before
1989, was flowed (due to its ideologically motivated background), yet it was
there and to our amazement we learned that the West does have a lot of practical
knowledge and experience in the field. The problem was that we were looking
for signs of the market realization in the works of our colleagues from the
West and in so many cases we couldn't find these... Very few of us managed
to get gallery representations in the West and to build up market presence...
Very few of our colleagues in the West managed the same thing. So, that was
something that was obviously not restricted to the Eastern European artists
The second half of the 1990ies was marked by the advent of alternative strategies
and venues for expansion (infiltration, if you wish). That was the new media
context, the video festivals context, at the end, the illusion that there
might be something outside and beyond the market necessity. Once again this
field turned out to be the domain of East and West alike. It was an alternative
context to the power context of the real international art world. It did a
lot of good... It promoted a lot of artists and when it did not, still it
helped build up self-confidence and many networks that were the alternative.
Of course, this was also sponsored activity and the best actions of the alternative
network I was part of in the late 1990ies, the so called V_2 East Syndicate,
took place in the context of documenta X in 1997 (the Deep Europe workshop
in the Hybrid Workspace)... That is ironical, no?
The great amount of activity in this context in the late 1990ies went along
with the most pressing developments in Europe - the final stages of disintegration
of Yugoslavia, that mini-empire of the East. Little by little a new disposition
of factors came to play. No longer Eastern Europe but the Balkans, although
the wars in ex-Yugoslavia were never really Balkan wars like they were in
the early 20th century. By that time we realized that the strategy of non-direct
expansion (they think they are "invading" us while we know we are tricking
them into letting us in...) had worked. A clear sign was that funding took
a different direction... Previously funding was directed mainly to events
taking place in the West. In the late 1990ies funding shifted direction and
there was quite a lot of money available for projects organized in points
east of the Austrian-Hungarian border... Why? Well, instead of creating opportunities
for artists from Eastern Europe to exhibit in the West and thus risk their
market success, which might lead to potentially damaging levels of emigration,
somebody figured it's much better to sponsor events in the places where the
artists in question actually live and work. This means - keep them occupied
and happy where they are. And we were/are... But the problem now is with the
EU expansion. It seems now that all that funding for art events in Western
Europe that included artists from Eastern Europe between 1989 and 2004 came
from "pre-accession" funds... The problem though is that the process of negotiations
is wrong. In the case of Bulgaria they started with four chapters. The number
one chapter that was closed (presumably all was OK from the point of view
of EU) was "Culture". In Bulgaria though the state policies for culture are
not only conservative without any attention paid to contemporary culture and
a lot of attention given to national cultural heritage (which is restricted
only to Christian heritage in a country that has a large Muslim minority,
among others). They simply do not exist... So, once again we must think of
expansion... but this time around we do not have to do anything because the
EU will come to us, not the other way around...
Unfortunately, that argument may just be outdated. There was the 9.11 and,
as I was watching CNN live at the time of the hits, my first impulse was:
"Oh, I want to be American now..." The thing is that I have lived in the States
for nearly 5 years, on and off, and never before did I experience such an
urge... After 9.11, I thought, we are all - "the West"... They made us be
"the West"... And even Turkey, which is a Muslim country with Arab background
due to its Ottoman Empire heritage (state archives in the Ottoman Empire were
in Arabic, on the other side, Bulgaria was between 1396 and 1876 under Ottoman
domination), became part of "the West" after the bombings in Istanbul in December
2003. Now it doesn't really matter anymore if Bulgaria is or is not legally
within the EU and NATO... Psychologically - there is no difference; in terms
of economy - yes, in general; but wherever artists are concerned - no, and
that's unconditional because the market for art works is the same for all.
However, it might be a good idea for an artist to live near his/her gallery
in London, New York, Berlin or Paris no matter where he/she comes from - Sofia,
Dallas/Forth Worth, or Braunschweig... or Teheran for that matter. As part
of the so-called West I am very much interested to know about the Beirut,
Damascus, Jerusalem and so on art scenes. For me what matters is that contemporary
art is an urban and a cosmopolitan thing. So, I want to know more about artists,
curators and works in urban centers wherever they might happen to be located.
Because urban centers share some characteristics and it's up to us to find
out what do we have in common or in difference = cosmopolitan. The East/West
discourse is deeply outdated, as we knew it from the early 1990ies. I think
I have a better chance to be considered exotic if I insist on my Balkan identity...
after all there are a lot of Muslims in the Balkans... On second thought,
no, I do not want to be exotic anymore. I just want to "art". And please,
let's stop with that exchange stuff! The symbolic exchange went on for far
too long (we give you the corpse, you give us the money and the way out of
the EE ghetto), it is time to have some honest and fair market exchange -
you want Arab artists (?), or Balkan artists (?), or Eastern European artists
(?), well then, you are going to have to pay for your caprice... just as all
the time I have to pay with my life and works for the fact that I was not
born in Berlin or Stuttgart.
Why the hell doesn't anybody mention the fact that there are Swiss artists in an international show organized in Paris? Why the hell is it always mentioned when there are Arabic artists or Balkan artists or Eastern European artists included? What is a Swiss artist? By the way, I love the work of the Swiss artist Pippilotti Rist who lives in Los Angeles anyway.
Q: With the expansion of the European Union, significant geopolitical, economic and cultural shifts will happen. Ten countries from Central and Eastern Europe will become 'equal' member states of the EU. What was the situation in the preceding 15 years in these countries like, concerning the development of media initiatives, and community media? Can you 'predict' how the media landscape might look in an expanding European Union?
MV: The revival of awareness of the broader communities concerning media literacy, and involvement of non-professional journalists in mass media, following the fall of communist regimes underwent a complicated period during the last 15 years. It is therefore hard to outline the general situation, as development towards democracy is fragile, sometimes turbulent and unstable. Misunderstandings and misinterpretations are typical of many recent analyses and reveal wishful thinking on the one hand, or "dim prophecies" on the other. What is clear in the picture of the media landscape after '89 in Central and Eastern Europe is that it is inappropriate to generalize.Before the fall of communism, nearly in all of the countries in the region there were similar media legislative structures, policies and practices:censorship, broadcasting, purposes, etc. The difference was bigger according to local history in some countries like Yugoslavia, Poland, Hungary, and perhaps partly Romania. Nevertheless, the common ideological monopolies were maintained there almost as strictly as the Soviet model did.When the USSR started to dissolve, countries in the region evolved from the Soviet model at different rates, and in different directions. Many analyses have been written by media specialists from the West and US, and they are often biased by different optics applied from different political experiences. (One exception is for example the project Transition On Line [www.tol.cz], which focuses on monitoring freedom of media in Eastern Europe from a larger "comparative" perspective, and relies on the expertise of local correspondents and researchers.
The population in most of the former Eastern Block countries had a certain advantage to Western society in their ability to "read between the lines", decode the ideological propaganda, fence off mass media manipulation. Nevertheless, the active skills to communicate about public and political matters outside of the limited circles of dissent, the campagning media carriers like journals, radio broadcasters, posters, street actions, etc. became almost extinct. Dissent developed specific clandestine strategies to operate in the totalitarian state, and target the (limited) public. The latter was problematic to apply in the new "post-communist" situation. The key issue is the definition of what "community" actually is and if it is possible to apply in some kind of general "anthropological" term. The sense of community in trade unions, and other interest groups have been destroyed in many social layers. Periods of softer regulations were too short to generate community media awareness. The wide movement of "protest", "independent" or"community" media operating in Western Europe benefited from its relatively continuous history (since the '60´'s), and integrated to some extent within the general media structures. Media culture in former East European countries reflects local economical and political settings, where power is still concentrated and controlled according to interests of the government or commercial channels. The "voice" of the public domain is very weak and marginalized, even if some areas as environmental and humanitarian aid developed quite fast. Media always mirror society and one cannot expect democratic media in a pre-democratic state.
There are processes occurring on a pan-European scale: the role of the national state is diminishing, and multinational international press corporations - especially the audiovisual networks - will gain more control over local and regional areas. The originally structured media audience is changing into a species of consumers, and is categorized according to their relationships to the market, financial stratification and cultural preferences. We are approaching interesting phenomena in the mediascape, similar to the emergence of the network of shopping malls, which divide the entire continent into interest zones from Portugal to Russia. The shelves of the media supermarkets offer the consumers what they are supposed to want, but the small local entrepreneurs and local market places are disappearing.
Q: In an expanding EU, some other things are expanding as well: for example, censorship, and copyright and IP law enforcement that produce an atmosphere of strong political and economic control. Within this context, what would be the future of the public domain, cultural and information exchange in the EU, especially between those IN and those OUT?
MV: The actual situation of freedom of speech or civic rights in most of the post communist countries has considerably improved, compared to the centralized oppresive apparatus 15 years ago. But there is one new phenomena, which appeared during the transform towards market economy..It is important to realize the difference between "political" control and "economical" control. Totalitarian systems attempt to standardize the spectrum of local jargons, to implement orthodox newspeach, eliminate autonomous public domains, lobotomize the sense for public constitution, and aim to establish passivity and loyalty of the people. Economical decision making within the public domain is a sublime art of control, could be functioning even more efficiently than strong censorship. Surveillance is just one obvious tool from the whole spectrum: advertising industry, tendencies to turn people into consumers rather than creative users of technology, neo-colonisation activities of bussines corporations which are influencing the educational systems and cloning the employees in to the one dimensional specialists. The tendency to strengthen the control apparatus, and eliminate and neutralize the movements of "civil disobedience" and "protest" against the ruling economic and political elites, is easy to trace down both in the EU and outside the EU. Nevertheless, the crucial moment could be the necessity to balance the order, control, and economic consumer-friendly behaviour in the population. Restrictions on the functioning of the public domain, freedom of movement, working habits, etc. which could lead to market decrease, would oppose EU interests. Culture and information exchange is very much the result of the general settings of economical and political rules. If war would be the best strategy to inject new energy into the dwindling markets, then war would be considered an option. Ofcourse somewhere else, outside of the "Empire". See for example the "War Against Terror".
Q: Accession to the EU means the so-called "accessing states" have to comply and conform to a whole list of EU prescribed regulations. Joining means accepting, performing and perpetuating EU standards. Eventhough the EU maintains to promote cultural diversity and difference, the dangers for a homogenized, standardized mono-cultural Europe are lurking. What does complying with standards mean for issues of identity?
MV: I don't believe in identity, in the sense of "national" behavioral patterns. To discharge such local patterns as alcohol and drug abuse, hunting, weapons idolatry, abuse of animals, gender suppresion, antisemitism, xenophoby, folkloristic propaganda, etc. would indicate that the EU nations are finally growing up after centuries of infantilism and ideological or religious phantasmagoria. To belong to Europe is still better than to suffer subordination under the today's corrupt local populist regimes and policy makers.
Q: Recently the document 'A EUROPEAN MANIFESTO has been circulating, in order to support, and underline the importance of 'minority community media'. In a way it deals with minority community media, and the way social inclusion policies are implemented, 'ensuring freedom of speech, the right to receive information and the right to communicate for all, including the right for minorities to receive media in their own language'. This is all regarded as basic human rights for all citizens. What do you think of these kind of documents?Is it just 'paper' or can it have a real impact on promoting minority media?
MV: Culturally and democratically oriented media have always been a minority in their scope, and will remain so. Any document which attempts to formulate the need to sustain, revitalize, and reframe the "normal" languages and discourse is a challenge, and provides the minority with the feeling of identity. Their survival and evolvement depends on many aspects and issues.
Q: Regarding freedom of speech and the public domain - especially in our information society - do you think that Information and Communication Technologies play a crucial role towards realizing the aforementioned human right? Often, Internet and new technologies are positioned as values by themselves, as well as tools which will help to overcome the 'digital divide'. Is there a realistic platform to realize this, or are we talking about monopolies in that field, lack of infrastructure in countries in the periphery, etc?
MV: The process of implementing new technologies (mostly developed in a military context) on a broader scale, always creates profound shifts in society. Parts of the impact one can control, others create "gates without locks". Internet, and electronic networks in general, bring about an enormous change in people's actions, thoughts and behaviour. The feedback between techno zone and old social patterns is a very complicated system.The elite benefits from the advanced information technology, and scientific research is still only a small fraction of the world's population. Enourmous quantity of world population lacks not only rights to communicate, or access to ICT, but even rights access the basic human resources, like water, food, health care.. Nevertheless, the technocracy want to keep to control our futures.To which extent this small rich elite will be willing to consider to share the profit with the poor members of the family without access to technology, and how long they can manage to keep this control is a question for futurologists.The recent United Nations World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) held in December 2003 offers a good example. The Summit outcomes were limited after an arduous and expensive process. However, according Anriette Esterhuysen, APC executive director, "from the perspective of many civil society organisations that participated actively, the WSIS has created a new opportunity for solidarity across ideological, sectoral and geographical divides".
Q: In concept for the FM@dia project [http://www.fmedia.ecn.cz/], you mention creating a functioning platform for better collaboration among media activists, artists, free radios,Internet publishers, etc. In other words, this is about a process of networking. There are certain theories which propagate the view that the "network model" ceased to be the emerging contemporary organizational model. The claim is that It lost its subversive character, and became a static model, that yet, didn't reach levels of decision making. What is your opinion on this? Do you think that this form of collaboration/networking is the future for independent media movements? Or not?
MV: Definitely there are chances to find common strategies and shared interests amongst a variety of individuals, initiatives and communities which have been geographically, ethnically, nationally or class divided in the pre-electronic age, including cultural initiatives, military and para military units, business corporations, etc. We hope to be able to involve, meet and get acquainted with initiatives, which are seeking dialogue, discussion and mutual communication in general, not necessarily via strategy of "networking". Networking is not the overall focus of the Forum as you suggest. It is needless to say that community media and networking are influenced by financial support, and are partly dependant on bureaucratic interests and structures or activists interests and visions. But the fact that many individuals from wide range of places and languages are exploring possibilities to express their views via the "institution" of "community" is the proof that the process is growing from the inside.
A recent study by Mark Surman and Katherine Reilly commissioned by the Social Science Research Council says that "This issue of appropriation - using networked technologies strategically, politically, creatively - is amongst the most pressing that civil society faces in the information society. The big question is: what should we do with these networked technologies now that we have access to them? ... By all accounts, the broad majority of civil society organizations are struggling with the issue of how to mold these tools to meet their needs - to increase the impact of campaigns, projects and programs using networked technologies. Or, in many cases, they are simply using them without any thought about where and how these technologies fit into the political work for which they feel so much passion. It is not that these organizations use networked technologies completely without question or critique, but rather that they don't take the time to consider how they can be using these technologies most strategically." (Surman and Reilly, Appropriating the Internet for Social Change, SSRC, November 2003)
Anybody who is working from inside the communication apparatus is facing the seduction to perceive the problems from a "technical" perspective as a "software" solution. "New media activism", and for example some wings of the anti-globalist movement are often leading to the feeling of self-sufficient prophecy, singular interest defence, messianism and neglecting towards"ordinary people". The chance to cultivate the community with appropriate use of media, and achieve a growing impact means to abandone elitarist or "avant-gardist" attitudes of the Artist. It means to approach (and understand) a broader public with an old and best tool for networking:"solidarity". There will be no cultivation, rejuvenation and evolvement of community media without a continuous fertilized platform ready to accept hybrid forms; a platform which allows to look and reach beyond the borders.
Marion von Osten is an artist and author born 1963 in West-Germany. She studied Fine Arts and Philosophy in Karlsruhe and Bochum. She was Curator at Shedhalle Zürich from1996-98, teaches critical art practice at School of Visual Arts and Design, Zurich scince 1999, publishes in Texte zu Kunst, A.N.Y.P., Springerin, Ojeblikket, Opening and feminist magazines, videos and installation works dealing with gender, urban as well as economic issues, member of k3000, lives in Berlin and Zurich. Exhibitions (selection) since 1994 -2000:
"Artists Select", Artists Space, New York, U.S.A., "When tekkno turns to sound of poetry", Kunst-Werke Berlin, "Ausbruch der Zeichen", Künstlerwerkstatt Lothringerstraße Munich, "Park Fiction", St.Pauli Hamburg, "Disturban", Kunstraum München, "mitteln. raum vor ort", Kunstverein Bonn, "We are somewhere else (already)", Swiss Institute New York, "Public Space" Kunstverein Salzburg, Oreste Space, Venice Biennale, ZAC, Musee d'art Moderne, Paris, "don't stop/filme für die 90er",Frankfurter Kunstverein, "trans_actions", Gallery Art&Essai, Rennes, EuroVision2000, Cafe9, Prague/Brussel, "Dialog "Swiss Institute New York
Born 1951, B. Sc of Economics. Until 1985, worked as a journalist. From 1986 - 1991 working with the Centre for Cultural Research of Serbia, as a researcher at first, and subsequently as the director of the Eco-Centre. 1991 - founded NGO research centre "The Blue Dragon" in Sremski Karlovci and have been working as a Director. 1999, he founded Regional NGO Association BalkanKult and worked as a Director till present 2001 (first four months) - Special Adviser of the Minister for Culture of Serbia. He had than 30 comprehensive researches in culture and socio-ecology. He is author of several books anr editor of the book Developing Aspect of Cultural Industries; Editor-in-chief of the Cultural Policy Edition and BalkanKult Papers; Secretary General of the Yugoslav Committee of UNESCO's programme "Man and Biosphere"; Memeber of the Journalist Association of Yugoslavia and the Independent Journalist Association of Serbia and International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) situated in Brussel; Member of the European Cultural Network CIRCLE and founding memeber of European Research Institute for Comparative Cultural Policy and the Arts (ERICArts) based in Bonn.
Well, I was both angry and depressed after Stuttgart (1). For many reasons
but it's not easy to explain now. Basically, I had the feeling that I am a
"cultural gast-ARTbeiter" (I am not sure this is the correct spelling in German,
but you know what I mean...) who for some reason should be very, very carefull
now not to be considered a "sell-out" or a compromising asshole, or a neo-liberal
at worst. And I think I am just working very. It seems to me that now I have
to actually "hide" my CV - both from my crtitical art practice friends (that's
you (2) but you are so nice that you will forgive me this statement, OK?),
and from my Net.Art friends who are after new contexts as if the Net is not
already heavily infected by power art games as well... And I am so proud of
my CV - it's not so easy to do all these things. Maybe it would be more decent
for somebody like myself if I would just go after Art and Galleries, etc.
You know, after Stuttgart I did a small calculation based on this CV of mine.
The background is (and please keep this in mind until the end of these few
sentences) that right now I have only the fee from Stuttgart to my name, as
they say in the US. So, I calculated roughly that for all these years after
1989 (or rather after 1990-1) when I actually started traveling to the so
called "West" because of what I do professionally - for shows, temporary media
labs, conferences and all sorts of events, the ammount of money which "the
West" has spent on me is incredibly high. In terms of geography I have "covered"
the ground from California, to Brazil, to South Korea, Turkey and St. Petersburg
and everything in between. So, I started counting roughly all the costs -
tickets, hotels, per diems, visas, fees, honoraria, stipends, residencies,
catalogues, texts, translations, installation help and so on which the organizers
of the events have spent on me. Because the truth is that I can think of only
one ocassion when I have actually paid my own way to a show and that was a
show in a private gallery in Munich in 1993 (but then again I could do it
because at that time I had a Getty Grant in the US). I came up with a rough
estimate total of upwards of 130 000 or even 150 000 $ - can you beleive it???
And, nonetheless, there is nothing left in my pocket now, no property of any
So, I said to myself, I must be a valuable commodity somehow, although in
terms of symbolic rather then market exchange... The important question however
is - was it all worth it if we still can't agree on many things??? And here
by "we" I mean West and East people in general, not just you and me. Maybe,
I said to myself, it would have been more honest and definetelly better for
me, if all this money was just given to me to spend here in Sofia - it would
come up to 12000 or 15000 $ per year - a nice sum by all counts, don't you
In any event, I think that in Stuttgart there were people, although all of
them great, of far too diverse backgrounds in order to come to terms about
what actually is it that we should discuss. I think that the Eastern Europe
background is no longer so valid. Now it is either the "art world" or the
"e-world", the power games or the critical art practices, the galleries, museums
and all that "white cube" aesthetics or, as they say, the new "context" of
the Net. The unfortunate thing is that even the Net is already a power game
in a way. I still think that there is a need to talk but there is no common
language outside of either Art, or Politics, or Economy, or the Net, etc.
And the common language I am thinking about should somehow envelope all these.
Or we should just talk about very specific things - such as gender issues,
for instance, or "opposition in the East", etc... So, misunderstandings now
come from the context(s) which individuals preffer to opperate in rather than
from the EE vs. WE (and USA) issues and experiences. I don't think there is
any moral legitimacy left that might come from the fact that people are either
from the East or from the West - we are facing the same choices and/or compromises.
And I don't necessarily think that for an artist coming from EE the choice
of a career is such a bad thing.
Sofia, December 1998
(1) Conference "1st Congress about Art and its Mediation in Central and Eastern
Europe", Nov. 20-22, 1998, IFA Stuttgart, Germany.
(2) Marion von Osten, artist/curator. At that time curator in the Shedhalle,
In 1985 Hakim Bey wrote "the map is closed, but the autonomous zone is open", describing a temporary zone where innovative activities of all kind can happen. After more than a decade struggling with all possible set-ups for learning and technology (workshops, ateliers, demonstrations, tutorials, etc), maybe this old anarchistic idea of setting up an autonomous and most of all a temporary space, where exchange of experience can occur, isn't such a bad idea. It is at least as a starting point more inspiring not to fill out the content in advance. Simply get up and connect the computer junk we have, and build up a space that can accommodate for sensible activities. Instead of our pre-occupations with structure and stability, and most of all a priori content of importance, rather rely on the contributions of every participant, connect that into a creative set of ideas, and build up something new: bottom-up. I am more interested in the synthesis of the new. Wherever it comes from, curious to see where it leads to. Like the title of the piece by John Cage warns us: "How To Improve The World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse)".
set up and analysis of environment, what do we have?
internet connection, tests for audiovisual streaming
capture, mix, broadcast
how to operate realtime and non-realtime the following days
how to create some expressive and artistic content together:
to put the message through better!!!
The EU expands to the East and maybe the East has expanded into the EU already a long time ago. Wasn't it Vygotsky who showed the Western world convincingly that development through collaboration is always more efficient than individual and abstract learning. And so collaborative initiatives will always yield better results in the long run if they are based on a non-hierarchical system or organisation. Applying this to the arts: we can program sonic and visual patches in our bedrooms, together with friends. But a wider cultural issue can only come about in a larger community and with the involvement of participants who are willing to escape the local plan, that is often too restrictive, conservative and counter-progressive.
Maybe let the others redraw over and over again, the obsolete map with ever more precise positioning of where new borders are: the open and closed ones in different colors. Refresh and zoom in to street level, transparant pictures of the houses in the background. Let us move about across borders, set up and do something together that appeals to people without frontiers in their mind. Wherever they are. We essentially use the same means for expression, and are not very different from one another. Don't know, I can be wrong, but let's argue with sound and images and let's get it in a stream.
EURO_trance party (AT)
Monoton / Konrad Becker's music predisposes to a hypnotic state where time seems suspended. Fascinated by the musical writing and its subtle repetitive structures, by the gravity of its insistently moving chanting, by its obvious avant-garde sound ranges, it was essential to revisit this soundscape where ritual, mathematical structures (the Fibonacci number, the magic square), incantation and rhythmic strength are brought together.
Like other Germanic groups (Kraftwerk, Neu, Cluster, Conrad Schnitzler), Monoton's products (in particular this Monotonprodukt 07) have turned out to be fine forerunners of certain trends in electronic music at the end of the twentieth century. Singled out in The Wire magazine as one of the hundred most important and ignored records of the second half of the twentieth century, it contains the embryos of several subsequent productions. Even though this record is unique, it is still possible to establish a parallel between some of its components and compositions made by Dome, Bruce Gilbert, Lustmord, and more recently, Main, Pan Sonic, Coh or the cyclic patterns used by artists affiliated to new German minimalism. If the ritual and almost spell-binding characteristics of Monotonprodukt 07 are but slightly present in today's electronic music, its groove and the soothing hypnotism of its rhythmics are however familiar to our ears.
Konrad Becker wrote the following when the record was released in 1982. It contains the basic elements of his compositions but also offers a still topical theoretical framework, proving the eternal youth of his work.
Monoton / Konrad Becker (AT)
Konrad Becker is a hypermedia researcher/developer, interdisciplinary event and content designer. He is chairman of the Institute for New Culture Technologies, Director of Public Netbase/ t0, a Culture and Youth oriented Center for New Communication Technologies and founder of World-Information.Org, a cultural intelligence provider.
Mobility is inscribed in the very act of contemporary production, whether perceived or not. Even in pre-determined productive processes in which all the parameters are calculated and stable, there is a kind of dynamic which enables the realization of the end product. Yet, it is not only physical, but also mental. The very act of producing needs a direction that is constantly mobile. Therefore, in order to produce - conscious or unconscious - familiarity with "mobility" is a requirement.
NOMAD itself is born out of a chaotic state of mobility. At its original state, the conditions surrounding the lives of the two founders were defined by transition. One was in between stations of temporary autonomy; the other one had made a jump physically but not psychologically. New York, Ankara, London, Amsterdam and Istanbul were the names of the cities involved.
The phases of research, conditions ,and possibilities all determine the quality of production. Yet, there is always a potential to find better conditions and possibilities, by dragging the area of interest and the production field to a different location.
A show in Graz, Austria became the first practical proof of this realization of mobility as a working condition. After realizing that a customary curatorial team was not sufficient, graphic designers and architects were included in the group. They produced the exhibition together: NOMAD came alive.
Accumulative production is linked to more labour and more networking. The more you produce, the more input you would need. The more you find nodes in the same frequency, the more you would enrich a production. This is working in the network architecture: being able to jump from node to node, in a sea of ever-changing nodes.
NOMAD aims to produce and experiment with new patterns in the contemporary art sphere by using various lenses of other disciplines. The core of the formation consists of designers, engineers, architects, curators and writers. Therefore, the infrastructure is based on technical and theoretical levels, in order to provide collaborations with affiliations of artists.
Being mobile has social and cultural dimensions as well. Technical and production-related realities force mobility, yet they could not be anticipated if there were no social dimensions. Hence, "mobility" cannot be limited to competent actions in a geographically determined space. Furthermore, the social realm is as dynamic as the technical realm: spontaneous changes do occur as a result, in the perception of a social configuration.
It was easy to do a visual project, it was even easier to just put an
ordinary show in one of the "art spaces", but it was impossible to talk about
sound art within the local network. Even at a certain point, they felt that
they had already lost track with geography. When they completed the project,
it was among the first in Turkey. Yet they managed to realize all of the projects
through being physically and also mentally mobile...pushing the nodes of the
What if the movement and/or the mobility of a determined space is faster than your pace?
What if the space is much more blurred than your concrete definitions?
Now we are talking about Istanbul; it is an alienated giant organism, which is continuously expanding yet imploding. Any attempt to grasp or trace the totality of the city would be far too slow for the speed of its growing process. Survival is only possible if you know how to cope with this shaky ground, which constantly hacks itself through the spontaneous and immediate set-up of dissociations. NOMAD flows with this reality of the city.
You are being controlled. The city wherein you're located... at that very
moment is being controlled. You are already surrounded by a multitude of networks,
such as credit card identifying info systems, GPS or centralised mobile phone
networks, electromagnetic waves with broadcasting stations, IP networks of
computers, and surveillance cameras.
Within the urban context, NOMAD identifies the unexpected potential of the "uncontrollable aspects" of the system as determining factors of a new casual order. Malfunctioning aspects of the system, or even a simple error in the flowchart creates a singularity. At this point, the "malfunctioning aspect" becomes the most threatening power with the greatest potential to dominate the system.
One can perceive power as being everywhere without a centre, following Hardt and Negri ensuing Deleuze and Guattari. Mobile nodes of power could activate a productive defect in the operation logic of the desiccated late capitalist globe. Even a twist can grow to make a big difference: the butterfly effect.
Through diverse and erratic inspections in contemporary art, NOMAD aims at developing the ability to fabricate content and to generate material and techniques. The operation logic of NOMAD is based on connectivity. Connecting ideas, projects, techniques, functionalities, and locations across time and space.
Controversial locations, cases, and situations. To produce is more rewarding than to object, or to contest. Nevertheless, while producing, getting past the static mindsets and opinionated mental blocks are more challenging than the physical obstructions. Mobile modes of production always have the potential to crash clumsy and predictable applications running in the system.
Alexander Kiossev's infamous theory of self-colonization1
was published ten years after the collapse of the Eastern Block. The essay
provides a fair description of the metaphor in use, as: "[...] self-colonizing
cultures import alien values and models of civilization by themselves and
that they lovingly colonize their own authenticity through these foreign models,"
and clearly defines the regions to which the theory could be applied.
From the point of view of the modern globalisation of the world, there are cultures which are not central enough, not timely and big enough in comparison to the 'Great Nations'. At the same time they are insufficiently distant, and insufficiently backward, in contrast to the African tribes, for example. That's why, in their own troubled embryo, somewhere in the periphery of Civilisation, they arise in the space of a generative doubt: We are Europeans, although perhaps not to a real extent2
In outlining a region which doesn't fit properly in the framework of today's postcolonial discourse, being neither colonizer, nor colonized in the strict meaning of the words, but navigating somewhere in between, he points to the very heart of the main cultural dilemma of Eastern-Europe, more accurately, of the Post- socialist countries. One cannot resist the feeling that it is hardly accidental, that the frustration raised from being trapped into two extreme categories, popped up in the Eastern part of the region, which nowadays most commonly named Eastern-Central Europe, since the so-called Central part is very busy defining itself as being essentially part of Europe, or at least closer to it. No doubt, this old-new identity construction of the latter is fueled by the euphoria of integration into the European Union. This latter part of the seemingly homogeneous region in the time of Soviet dominance - at least as it was seen as such form the outside - started to separate itself from the others (the "real" Easterners and from the Balkans) parallel to the negotiation for integration, preferring the name Central Europe and stabilizing itself by establishing supportive institutional systems3. The phenomenon, according to Larry Wolff, operates "as a political project in the way it always had: as a moral appeal and reproach addressed to Western Europe."4 There is even an urge from the "bravest" to get rid of the mildly differentiating prefix "central" in favor of just being "European," a notion encouraged by the simple act of integration. On one hand, it provides the illusion of becoming an equal member of the community overnight, which would resolve the old dilemma of belonging immediately, which goes - of course - hand-in-hand with helpful collective amnesia. On the other hand, there is a strong fear of the price that has been paid: losing our own identity, cultural specificity, and cultural heritage. With the most current opposition of laudation and lamentation over integration, the good old dilemmas - universal versus national, global versus local, center versus periphery - are back again in a new form, to which we can add the most up-to date nomenclature: standardization versus culture with local specificities.
Concerning art and art history, the phrase "liberal lie of modernism", which
was coined by Griselda Pollock regarding the women's (as opposed to men's)
equal contribution to art in the name of universal values5
, could easily be transferred to the art of periphery (as opposed to the center)
of Western art, namely to Eastern Europe. The modernist discourse provided
a framework in which an artwork from the periphery could have been floating
in the same sea of art as an artwork from the center, if it was able to mask
(i.e. transcend) properly its gender and nation relatedness. This was a game
of balancing, like dancing on thin ice. From the critical position of "art
history after modernism," the European agent of the new art history writing,
Hans Belting, gives voice retrospectively to this imbalanced power relation.
"For the greater part of the twentieth century, East and West had no shared
art history [...] We usually ignore the degree to which we have imposed a
Western view on the East by recognizing only Western traditions and by writing
art history such as to exclude Eastern Europe".6 Despite the guilt-driven self-critical
analyses, the chapter has a happy ending, or rather, a dream-vision - fitting
to the moment of enlargement of the concept of Europe - of the art history
of the future, which would be written "from two points of view or, so to speak,
with 'two voices' hopefully in harmony."7 Keith Moxey, an American agent of
the new art history, very much aware of the post-colonial condition and of
the criteria of the new critical theory, being self-critical and self-reflected,
proposes the following for operating within the new cultural conditions. "
What might the implications of what I have called a poststructuralist poetics of history have for the conduct of art history in Eastern Europe. What relevance would it have for the project of giving significance to the past in this part of the world. ... [I]t is up to you to try to think this through for yourselves. There is no doubt in my mind, for example, that the history of Eastern European art has suffered from the shadow of the master narrative of the West. [...] The point is not necessarily to attempt to set the record straight by adding or inserting local events into the framework of the western narrative, for there is no way in which one set of events can be conceived of as equivalent to the others.8
In the optimistic midst of a new kind of liberal utopia, one is still haunted by the suspicions and doubts as to whether unmasking the myth of modernism and uncovering the hierarchical structure of it would actually result in a compensated, revised art history, eliminating the old contradiction of the center and the periphery, for which one has to only rely on the new critical discourse. To put it differently, to what extent does the basically Anglo-Saxon poststructuralist theory enable the articulation of the experiences of former peripheries? Even though the new theory claims the need to "bring more diversity to the discussion" - a "kind of cacophony of voices" rejecting hierarchies - the theory itself is a product of deconstructing the mainstream and canon of Western art and theory. Even its case studies refer to the context of the center, in which the "torturous and tortured art history" of Eastern Europe (using Hans Belting's expression), has not been included. Thus, the new theory is not a perfect fit for the deconstruction of this marginalized part of modernist discourse. The paradigm of modernism organized around pure notions of style, sterile categories, and the production of innovation and originality could not accommodate all the local expressions, variations, "reworkings," "belated phenomena," mixed categories, and overlapping phenomena which lie beyond the known, well-trodden paths. It is not easy to avoid the pitfall of the controversy implicit both in modernism's universalistic claim and even in its criticism. From a critical position, Hans Belting is against adapting Western values. Yet he states, that "The attraction of Western culture in the East, where for a long time it was inaccessible, proves irresistible, as long as people are not enough acquainted with it to realize how poorly it fulfills their overblown expectations."9 His attitude is twofold: being skeptical with the "western wonder" from a critical position and, at the same time, being paternal to the East from a deep-seeded control position. One just wonders, what the real reference is against which the region's art is to be measured. It could still be treated as "Compared with the West, art in Eastern Europe in retrospect mostly appears retarded in the general development and at another stage of development which means that it was performing a different social role, two conditions that result from its historical lack of contact with Western modernism10 " - echoing the neglecting standing point of western modernism. From outside of the traditional Western boundaries, one could absolutely salute the subtle analyses of the different paths taken by Eastern and Western modernisms:
The interrupted success of modernism in countries like Russia, whose avant-garde once had also stirred up the West, gave rise to the erroneous idea that modernism had taken place only in the West, as if it had not repeatedly been suppressed in Eastern Europe (and as if its development had not greatly differed from one Eastern European country to another). In this part of the world, modernism, soon had become an unofficial culture and, as an underground movement, was therefore denied public access.11
His elaboration of the different path, taken by the East continues with very important statements, striking right into the heart of the recent situation:
Where [in the East] it did not join the permanent crisis of modernism, art - the author of this present essay would add to that theory - remained in a state of innocence, as it were, especially since it could easily justify itself by its resistance to official state art ... official and subversive, there was still conviction in the power of art, something that had vanished long before in the West [...] Progressive art, which was cut off from any public impact, in the meanwhile has become as official as state art once was [....]
I further elaborate on this phenomenon in my lecture "Who is afraid of a new paradigm12" delivered in 2001. However, coming from the region, I cannot share the opinion, which almost seems as wishful thinking, that "the loss of modernism was traumatic for countries for which it had served as the door to European culture13", simply because I don't see the loss of modernism in the region. On the contrary, it is almost as valid as it was with the enforced bastions in the institutional system.14 Regarding the criticism of the canon and the new critical theory - at least in the Hungarian case- we are definitely not at the end of the age of innocence, as our art history is far from being after modernism. While the shift - detected precisely by Belting - made by Eastern modernism is crucial in my view as well, I would counter, that the consequences of this "oddly reversed position"- using Anna Szemere's phrase, is still haunting us as one of the obstacles towards joining international discourse.15
An unavoidable theory of "self-colonization," emerging from the framework of post-colonial theory, was born in the region, and soon became quite popular as a catchphrase, especially among those few for whom the new theory was not alien.16 Aniko Imre accuses this theory of symptoms of postcolonial nationalism, which claims itself to be "good nationalism."17 I myself wouldn't simplify the phenomenon to be a mere new appearance of nationalism, claiming that the position and implication of it is much trickier. No question about it that the theory is homemade and - using a metaphor of its own - is a self-exposure, which was not forced from the outside. However, I would propose that the pitfall it falls into, is dug within the very structure of the new critical theory. I would use a psychoanalytical framework, with respect to Kiossev, who sees the origins of the symptoms of self-colonization in a trauma.
This is the precondition for a quite peculiar identity and a quite peculiar modernization. They arise through the constitutive trauma that: We are not Others (seeing in the Others the representatives of the Universal), and this trauma is also connected with the awareness that they have appeared too late and that their life is a reservoir of the shortcomings of civilization.18
I would rather additionally clarify, that those who were allowed to write history have treated the culture of the region in this way. However, we can't take for granted the view that historians give us. The result is a double mechanism, and the oft repeated vision has been internalized by the population of that culture. Of course, the process is followed by of lowering self-esteem, and the development of a cultural inferiority complex. In the shadow of this psychological construction, looms a hidden suspicion that believes the whole mechanism is generated for the sake of the controllers. Consequently, the trauma, in my view, emerges from this uncertain and opaque position of "in betweenness," - named after Stephan Tötösy's "in between peripherality,"19 . It comes from the constant shift of being included or excluded, or, at least, from the mental sensation of this pendulum, and definitely not from a clear-cut position of the colonized. As we know, all kinds of trauma make one pay twice for the suffering, wherein post-traumatic disorder, at its worst, is the second turn. I don't want to go so far in our case, but wish to direct our attention to some side effects of the trauma.
In post-colonial studies, and even in everyday psychology, it is a basic tenet that people who experience colonization or violence suffer from what is known as "mental colonization." When an ideology or behavior is used to oppress or weaken an ethnic or national group or a family member, the behavior is internalized by the victims of that ideology or behavior, and is accepted as valid. This transfer of aggression towards others could be even turned backwards, becoming a tool of further self-torturing. Victimology and rape studies demonstrate through different statistical polls, that one can encounter the "blame the victim" attitude even if the victim is male, let alone if the victim is female.20 As a further consequence of the trauma, this attitude shakes the very trusting foundations of the subject, including trust in the self and trust in the others. The shadow of suspiciousness transcends all relations afterwards. In the early phase of the, so-called wild capitalism after the political changes in Hungary, there was a great willingness to blame the losers of the financial and positional restructuring of the scene. Much of this blame came from those who were able to successfully fish in troubled waters, and wanted eagerly to possess moral superiority. Eventually they became nouveau rich and powerful overnight. The effective psychological tool of "blaming the victim" served well to cover moral dilemmas and feelings of guilt. If the system blames the victim, there is no need for further questioning or analyses. And this is not even the end. Self-blaming strategies as a coping process for sexual assault victims in the aftermath of rape, is well-known within psychology.21 In my view, precisely this process is imitating itself in the theory of self-colonization. The victim of trauma cannot shake the limits of self-blame, and goes so far as to accept responsibility for the situation. Colonialism, or any kind of controlling position - consciously or not - depends structurally and politically on the assertion of clear differences between the controller and the controlled. The theory of self-colonialism serves exactly this differentiation on a silver platter, and could be the best-fit fantasy of today's dominant theorists. Or, put differently, it falls into the pitfall of the new critical theory. This strategy offers a policy of burying one's head into the sand, and cuts off any possibility for entering the discourse and subverting it. Rallying the metaphor of trauma, self-colonization theory actually doubles the trauma by essentialising and fixing the binary opposition, closing the door at the more nuanced critique and analyses. At the same time, it reinforces the old stereotypes of the region: cultures which are self-destructive and masochistic, deriving pleasure from pain and suffering.22 I am proposing that this essentialising dual system should be altered along with eliminating old stereotypes. I am very concerned to get beyond the victim/agent dichotomy.
I do not want to speak against the new critical theory, since I am aware of the end of theoretical innocence. The framework of modernism leaves very limited mobility for mapping the terrain given for the "in-betweeness", or for those on the margins of a dominant category. However, we should realize, that to this day, new critical theory, let alone its discursive practice23 , remains most comfortable where the postcolonial power dynamic between the center and the periphery most closely resembles the former power dynamic. Even though it declares the elimination of such opposition, offering instead many local centers. According to this in-between position, not so much mapping dependency is at stake, but rather mapping ignorance, so to speak, and the anxiety of getting into the blind spot of the new discourse and the remnant of imbalanced power relations. There is an urgent need to make this spot visible, since it will be further obscured by the physical act and psychological illusion of integration. There is another postcolonial relationship that should be noticed and studied: the connection between nations of the former periphery, whose solidarity is greatly corrupted by the selective system of the European Union, which either grants privileges of access, or denies it. The psychological price paid by the new insiders, is the loss of any solidarity and sensation of common experiences with those who remain outside.
A special thanks goes to my dear friend, Barbara Dean for her assistance in editing the English version.
1 Alexander Kiossev (1999). Notes on Self-colonising Cultures. In B. Pejic, D. Elliott (ed.) Art and Culture in post-Communist Europe. Stockholm: Moderna Museet. pp. 114-118. 2 Ibid. p. 114. 3 See Central European University (CEU), Budapest; magazines like CENTROPA published in New York; Central European Cultural Institute, Budapest and its periodical European Traveller published in Budapest; Praesens. Central European Contemporary Art Review, published in Budapest etc. 4 Larry Wolff (1994). Inventing Eastern Europe: The map of civilization in the mind of the enlightment. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. p. 156. 5 Griselda Pollock (1996). Inscription in the Feminine. In M. C. de Zegher (ed.) Inside the visible: an elliptical traverse of twentieth century in, of, and from the feminine. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. 6 Hans Belting (2003). Art History after Modernism. Chicago: Chicago Press. p. 54. 7 Ibid. p.61. 8 Keith Moxey's lecture "Art history today: problems and possibilities" was delivered at Central European University, Summer University Course, Budapest, "History and Theory of Art after the cultural turn" (course director: Margaret Dikovitsky) Budapest, 2001. 9 Belting op. cit. p.56. 10 Ibid. p. 57-58. 11 Ibid. p.54 12 The concept first developed: Edit András (1999) "Exclusion and Inclusion in the Art World". In: MoneyNations Magazine. The Correspondent. Zürich: Shedhalle. pp. 51. - 52. pp. Further development: Edit András (2003), Who is afraid of a new paradigm? The old practice of art criticism of the East versus the new critical theory of the West. Vienna: Selene p. 96 - 104. 13Belting op. cit. p. 54 14 Ágnes Berecz (2003), "The Hungarian patient: Comments on the Contemporary Hungarian Art of the 90s". Artmargins online, www.artmargins.com 15 Anna Szemere (2001), "Western influence and the discursive construction of postmodernity in the cultural debates of postsocialist Eastern Europe". Paper presented at the 27th meeting of Sicoal theory, politics, and arts. Golden Gate University, San Francisco 16 Sándor Hornyik (2003), "Art historian on the Post-Comecom market". Praesens No. 1. pp.24-29; Katalin Timár (2002), "Is your Pop our Pop? The history of art as a self-colonizing tool". Artmargins online; Iara Boubnova (2000), "From defects to effects. self-colonization as an alternative concept to national isolationism". European Institute for Progressive Cultural Policies. http://www.eipcp.net/diskurs/d01/text/ib01.htlm 17 Anikó Imre (2001), "Gender, Literature, and Film in Contemporary East Central European Culture". Ch. 3. CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture:P A WWWeb Journal http://www.clcwebjournal.lib.purdue.edu 18 Kiossev op. cit. p. 114. 19 Imre op.cit. Ch. 3. 20 Patrick C. L. Heaven, john Connors, Annelie Pretorius (1998), "Victim characteristics and attribution of rape blame in Australia and South Africa". The Journal of Social Psychology 138. pp. 131-3 21 Gulotta, G. and de Cataldo Neuberger, L. (1983) A systematic and attributional approach to victimology. Victimology, 8, pp. 5-16. 22 See: Rancour-Laferriere, Daniel (1995), The slave soul of Russia : moral masochism
and the cult of suffering. New York : New York University Press 23 György Csepeli, Antal Örkény, and Kim Lane Scheppele (1996) "The Colonization of East European Social Science," Social Science 63.2. pp. 487-510; see also: András op. cit.
in the 21st century no one will be equal but choices between different things will be radically reduced in a gracious unity of all contradictions due to auto referencing turning everything and everyone into a synonym
in the 21st century all politics will only be about consumerism, this can be compared to how a mail-order system functions, and therefore in nature always unsatisfactory
in the 21st century all expressive behavior, including all arts, will be a hobby only, compared to gardening, and therefore always satisfying
in the 21st century the division between corporation-based contemporary culture and self-organizational counter-culture will be even more radically split than it is today, but both will be interchangeable in media appearance
in the 21st century curators on either side will be like bank managers now, aware of clients and commercial values of their products, and ready for the next jump in prices, when to organize the big giveaway tombola lotto, or pick the right show from the catalogues online
in the 21st century individualism will be totally replaced by diverse forms of hidden collaborations but it will be mentioned in no more than one name
in the 21st century all art will have a festival name
in the 21st century current artists will still gather in specially designed spaces to think about the future of objectification and depersonalization, the logical continuation of what we experience now in museums, schools and galleries
in the 21st century new artists will gather in dispersed locations to make original technological artefacts that are independent and expressive and can only communicate among themselves, the logical continuation of what we experience now in media labs
in the 21st century theatres of all kind will have the same nostalgic reminiscence like the circus today, and in a way the performances and shows organized in those spaces will resemble multimedia vaudeville and installation café chantant to a high extent
in the 21st century non-physical people will produce all forms of rhetorical communication, but not say anything
in the 21st century only non-physical people will do all science, but not show anything
in the 21st century only non-physical people will think about the arts but not write about it
in the 21st century physical people will have the same relationships as they have now, hence they will experience the same unsolvable problems in personal development
in the 21st century non-physical people will experiment with emotional relationships based on expressivity, collaboration, but also objectification and depersonalization as a constitutive part of their identity and as the major means to handle emotions and expressivity
in the 21st century all borders and hierarchies will only be produced by consumerist networks
in the 21st century roaming artists will pass those borders for consumerist reasons to reappear as non-physical people in a non-defined place on an artificial network with an urgent need for collaborative expression, disappearing again upon satisfaction
in the 21st century there will only be debate about politics, consumerism, and corporation-based contemporary cultural artefacts, and not about what non-physical people do
in the 21st century the new and art will be perceived only when physical or non-physical people have developed a new algorithm
in the 21st century society will disappear in algorithmic combinations and disjunctions
in the 21st century the infra-thin surface will keep all appearances undisturbingly polite, and the fragments that lie beneath will be done but not debated nor shown
in the 21st century individuals will talk in plural and groups will talk in singular
in the 21st century physical and non-physical people will not say "let us talk about it, when and where?" but "let us try out these things together now"
in the 21st century all real art will be realtime, abstract, algorithmic, dynamically changing over time, destructible, innovative, performative, and connecting physical and non-physical people through heterogenic networks
in the 21st century all real art will be without identity and hopeful
in order to deal with all this, let us create an outlaw territory 75cm above the ground and not higher than 1m 25cm. Let us perform there over and over again. Afterwards wipe everything clean and start over again. Learn from the previous experience. Learn and move forward. Only move forward in experiment. Only move forward if you are not alone. Only move.
The field of proxemics -the study of people's use of space as an aspect of culture- was established in the nineteen sixties by the anthropologist Edward T. Hall. He observed that people from different cultures not only speak different languages but what is possibly more important, they structure and experience space differently and as a consequence inhabit distinctly different sensory worlds (Hall, 1966). The complexity of proxemics, mostly formed outside our awareness, includes the physical distances maintained in our encounters with others. In his book on spatial perception entitled "The hidden dimension", Hall described proxemics in detail, providing a wide range of classification from the intimate and personal to public spaces. It seems that several important sensory shifts take place in the transition from intimate to public spaces, shifts that are culturally conditioned and arbritary. It is of interest to note that Hall observed as early as three decades ago that social distances have been modified bythe use of communication and visualization devices. Correspondingly the notions of "private" or "public" space as we have formerly known it, have altered. Today these changes are readily observable in our everyday life, by the intimate yet public use of mobile phones and other forms of electronically facilitated communication.
Thirty years after Hall published his studies on proximics, renewed interest has been shown in issues of space across the social sciences. Anthropologists set in motion a paradigm shift to foreground the spatial dimensions of culture in contrast to other considerations. Extensive studies in personal and public territorial behaviour provided new clues concerning spatial perception beyond personal and collective space considerations. Due to the rapid progress of globalization and its consequences, the emergence of so-called global, transnational and translocal space attracted special attention. Global and transnational space in this context is conceived as a space allowing the free flow of ideas and goods, people and services, capital and technology contributing to the reconsideration of the nation state as a territory or spatial entity. Consequently the notion of global space is closely linked to economic transformation while cultural globalization including particular forms of migration lead to the emergence of translocal space. It has been observed that the rapid mobility of specialized, permanently mobile workers, technologists and bureaucrats often contributed to the conversion of some cities (or places) into translocalities, detached from their national context. As a result aspects of migration and its relationship to the ever-changing cartographies present new challenges in terms of space and territorial affiliation.
Diaspora and refugee studies of the displaced focused renewed attention on territorializing aspects of identity especially as investigations of contested spaces reveal strong connections between the meaning of place and identity. Although capital has become more mobile and thus placeless to some extent, it has become more territorial in other places as a result of uneven development. Manuel Castells describes this transmutation in his analysis of a dual city, one in which the "space of flows" supersedes the local meaning of places. (1989). The ground is broad where the discourse of spatial identities and the politics of space have been conducted, consequently marginalized groups can and do contest the legitimacy of stereotypes. Debatably, territorial identity can be more important for a state apparatus than the individual as many groups (and individuals) have already evolved non-state forms of organizations, interest groups and transnational loyalties. Arjun Appadurai, writing on translocal spaces and mobile sovereignty, proposed that "loyalty often leads individuals to identify with transnational cartographies, while the appeals of citizenship attach them to territorial states. These disjunctures indicate that territory, once a common-sense justification for the legitimacy of the nation-state, has become the key site of the crisis of sovereignty in a transnational world"( Appadurai 2001).
In a certain sense the concept of a "nation" is an imagined thing. Consequently it has been argued that in addition to practicalities, imagination will transport us beyond the concept of the nation state to serious consideration of alternate ideas including the notion of transnational space. In the meantime territorial nationalism is on the rise and national borders in a seemingly free stream of people (and commodities) might be considered permeable to some, but remain controlled to others. It has been acknowledged that transnational economy on one hand supports distinct locales, at the same time the currently emerging spatial forms underscore the significance of homogenized spaces such as flexible capital, movement of labor, the global informational city and spatial networks. As a result the process of cultural globalization restructures every day lives, guides mobility and creates new translocal spaces. The critical spatial issue in global debates is the deterritorialization of places of work and community as a by-product of economical restructuring (Sasken1991).
Akhil Gupta in his analysis on transnational identities (2001) argued that "the changing global configuration of postcoloniality and late capitalism have resulted in repartitioning and reinscription of space." He further suggested that this evolvement had strong ramifications for the concept of imaginary homelands and/or communities that in the course of current transformations gained new relevance. Gupta compared in this analysis the Non Aligned Movement and the European Community. He proposed that common features linking together the development of imagined transnational communities often require systems and icons similar to those, which constitute nationalism - such as flags, constitutions, relaxation of trade barriers, elimination of visas, state bureaucracy and a system of political representation.
The detailed history of the Non Aligned Movement is outside the scope of this text.
Suffice to say that the beginnings of this group originate from a meeting in 1955 in Indonesia with the participation of 29 nations. A meeting between Nehru, Tito and Nasser, in 1956 in Brioni, Yugoslavia marked a further advance. The formal launch of the Non-Aligned Movement followed in 1961 at the First Nonaligned Summit held in Belgrade. From its very beginning certain discrepancies between the proclaimed aims (opposition to neo-colonialism, imperialism and racism) of the Movement and political realities have spawned ongoing controversy. The "Song of the Non-Aligned World", an album released in 1987 in Belgrade, featuring on the cover the photos of the Leaders of 25 nations, participating in the 1961 Summit, provides an interesting clue to some of the rhetoric connected to the Movement. The lyrics of the first stanza are as follows:
From Brioni hope has come to mankind
Hope and justice for all men as one kind
Tito, Nehru, Nasser gave us peace of mind
When they built the movement of the Non-Aligned
Within the European Community (discussed here in relation to this comparison only), the relaxation of trade barriers, travel without visas, a trans-European bureaucracy, free movement of labor and common currency all resemble a homogenized, reconfigured state, yet the character of individual nations is somehow maintained. The question remains, how will in this new space a resemblance of equality be achieved? How will cultural differences, historically embedded in national traditions be accommodated once the old boundaries are blurred, even eliminated? Will nations as they are known today present a hegemonic form of spatial organization in the post-modern world? While by now the European Community looks back on decades of success, allowing a timeframe for resolving relevant issues - the current process of enlargement brings these considerations once again into focus.
Gupta, comparing the achievements of the European Community with the accomplishments of the Non Aligned Movement, concluded, that the later has not been able to attain "the same bonds of solidarity linking peoples, locations and spaces that the European Community has managed to do." Thus the reconfiguration of space in the context of the EU might lead to the eventual development of an alternative hegemonic spatial formation, a space where the culturally different sensory worlds including trans-locality are better accommodated.
Appadurai A. 2001. Sovereignty without Territoriality: Notes for a Postnational Geography. In: The Anthropology of Space and Place. eds Low SM and Lawrence-Zunig, D. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford
Castells, M 1989 The Informational City: Information, Technology, Economic Restructuring and the Urban Regional Process. Blackwell, Oxford
Gupta, A 2001 The Song of the Nonaligned World:Transnational Identities and the Reinsciptionof Space in Late Capitalism. In The Anthropology of Space and Place
eds Low SM and Lawrence-Zunig, D. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford
Hall, E.T.1966. The hidden dimension. Garden City. NY. Doubleday.
Sasken, S 1991The Global City, Princetion University Press,Princeton.
Visekruna, D. 1987 Song of the Non-Aligned World. Belgrade: Radio Television Belgrade.
Katherine Carl and Srdjan Jovanovic Vajs
SJV: Here we are in front of a new twist of transition and increasing virtuality in relation to new global realignements caused by the enlargment of the EU. This places art history and architecture in an interesting position to look and interpret a new urban condition of the outside of the EU. We are speaking of a re-allignment of cities that until today would not have much in common. But now with the EU rambling towards eastern topographies these nodes that each form their own outside to the EU are suddenly in relation. Take two outside nodes that are so far and so close from this EU ramble like Novi Sad and New York. It is curious that a city so big and a city quite small now seem reasonable to relate.
KC: The enlarging EU: will it reach an outer limit and tear or snap or perforate, or is the EU an elastic universe? You're right, now in relation to this interior constellation, a new outside is about to be formed. This may not necessarily be a conscious repositioning in relation to the EU. Strangely, the US is now outside in this scheme instead of being at the center, where it often likes to think itself. This makes for unlikely bedfellows: what new and unexpected realignments are forming "on the outside?" In American slang, referring to the rest of the world as being "on the outside" makes the EU sound like a prison, although it may be more like a voluntary fortress, or in the American imagination Europe may resemble a luxurious gated community. The US may be surprised to find that in the class hierarchy that is emerging in the EU and with the strengthening of the Euro on the outside as well, it is not only the Balkans that are relegated to the backyard of the EU. The US finds itself there too. Perhaps this will have a positive effect of reducing such binary ways of thinking and US insular thinking.
SJV: Well, prisons are definitely pragmatic while voluntarism is born of desire. The EU knows how to capture the desire for pragmatic belonging, and link it to the symbol of the mother of the nation states. However, it falls short of dealing with instability, where we find new intelligence, innovation and tools. Instability represents a threat to the EU, a lowering of the standards of strict rules that are presented as soft and dear. These rules desired for economic stability are to be seen in the images on European currency which take architecture as a metaphor. Take the 500 Euro bill which promotes a contemporary architectural façade [or the way it should look ideally]. If we take a closer look at the drawing of the façade it refers to the contemporary style that looks more like bank architecture than civic, more like a reflecting glass office building than a public theatre or a cinema or a museum or a kunsthalle. It looks like it wants to be welcoming, but the access is blocked by the reflection with an apparent abstraction of a more solid façade across the street or in this case to the right from our view, maybe pointing at the east? This tells of a unity that is based on money and pragmatism. Having chosen bank architecture as the unifying architectural style is no surprise. The surprise is the sheer pragmatism of this move, not only because the glass and steel look originated in the US, but also that we thought that pragmatism in general was an American legacy.
KC: Is the new pragmatism a quiet Americanization of the EU? Finally making use of it for its own purposes now that they have a taste of the power of its conservatism? Further, since Bush is neither the sun-king, nor the unseen/unneeded/disappeared prison warden at the center of the panopticon, what does this outside look like? The US, instead of inhabiting this outside position with responsibility, has created a vacuum of power and leadership by seeking to spread instability to other countries with which it shares the outside status. Will the US become simply the ringleader of the rogues outside the EU, or rather, (and I believe more this latter option), does Bush not care about the growing competition from most conservatives and capitalists that the EU provides, because this just makes for more trading partners. Neo-liberalism is becoming more widespread and stronger, now occupying not only the inside but seeing itself doubled on the outside. This is the real American style of liberation as liberalization-at its most pragmatic of course.
SJV: Here with liberation in mind, we touch on a new realm of double standards for different topographies and politics [EU and others]. A new hybrid seems to be emerging as something that can be called "topolitics". In topolitics, I am two and we are many, we multiply. To make use of digging into one's own place, I would suggest employing the hybrid logic of topolitics - of always being different in relation to each new situation. This seems to be happening already as the way of life in both the highest and lowest powers.
KC: Digging out these lessons from our place of ultimate contingency in a primarily neo-liberal world, the under-exploited lessons of the political and social forms of communism could be "productive" in this configuration. This vision did not have a place to flourish and was also untimely-hollowed out before given a chance to be investigated with pleasure and/or productivity.
SJV: Thinking of the background for the need of topolitics, take the rule of money in New York and the late rule of Marxism in Novi Sad. Capitalism is already learning from Marx: his economic theories of communal dissemination are now embedded in profit sharing, effective only among the top calibers of capitalism. What seems not to be done yet and what can present a chance for a weaker power, is simply to try to capitalize on years of learning communism as a future project; capitalize on Marx.
KC: Attuned to the situation of "post-transition" of Serbia and "post-war" of the US in Iraq, without being nostalgic, we still work towards what is necessary for a healthy society in both of these contrasting post-utopias. The "post" situation is based in part on a combination of lies and risks. Seeing the lie of ever attaining the "post" moment or place - whether of war, transition, or utopia - is precisely the desire which drives us to take risks that can lead out of this dead-end pragmatism, which results only in elastic liberalization.
SJV: The elasticity of topolitics is that it does not dismiss unfulfilled promises, rather it recycles them. This is why it is possible to re-think and re-perform economic theories conceived by two non-economists who could not be more opposite: George Bataille and Buckminster Fuller. Bataille's inverse theory of economy, to make use of waste and strategies of squander, and Fuller's manipulation of global geography against corporate power to bend it in unexpected ways, now strangely come to mind. In fact, topolitics makes them resonate by re-playing these futuristic ideas, historical by now, in a contemporary field of transparency. Fuller is looking at designing geography against capitalism, while Bataille looks at trash to dismember the image of the political status quo. The architecture of this may be a new peer-to-peer urban situation where everyone in the loop produces and shares energy and information.
KC: This is a useful example for thinking about how new types of self-organizing forms can learn from, but also diverge from, the self-management of Yugoslavia in the '70s or the hyper-individualism found in the US today. This rings a bell of how to make use of lower standards, which is sometimes very appealing. Perhaps Marx's research and analysis of capital injected into the capitalist arena, in an aoristic move, can project an alternate shadow into the future.
SJV: We don't make any profits, but still, to be on the market means to sell something. New York is already known for selling out lower standards of metropolitan living to the middle class. The trick is how to find topolitical ways to exchange the lower-valued. This will help to capitalize on lower standards in Serbia by selling them to the EU states as a service, as was recently suggested by AMO, a Dutch think-tank group invited to re-design Serbian identity.
KC: This capitalizing on lowered standards is not based on unfulfilled communist promises or capitalist desires, but a hybrid new way of approaching everyday life. This results from the realignment of exchange between the double outsides, as they swap and share things that were not of value in the previous systemic arrangement.
SJV: Looking from the two outsides that we think of making one, the challenge is to make a two-way exchange, and to capitalize on the proliferation of double standards as much as the EU capitalizes on doubling standards for the insiders and for the outsiders. Both New York and Novi Sad are outside. Of course the former's demand for prominence has a far better chance of succeeding on the global scene as the one and only city in the world. The capitalization on the double standard of desire to belong, is the key for a small city like Novi Sad to appear big on the map, and inversely for any of the bigger partners to appear likeable.
KC: Based on the inversions of double standards, what are the values that architects and art historians can provide? Cooperation has always been the shadow-side of competition. Socially committed projects were always overpowered by profit-making schemes. They are doubles, yet the former in each combination does not carry value in strict capitalism. However, the realignments between the double outsides bring a new topolitics that values an inversion of double standards.
SJV: Topolitics can invert the traditionally-held standard, more specifically the conservative thinking that being inside is always better and that only by being inside that you have access to the better standard. If the outsides connect, not because of similarities, but because of utmost differences, the game will shift to something like a scene where David and Goliath are drinking coffee [or smoking] together outside of a sealed fighting arena. David and Goliath are not fighting, they see that being solely geographical or political does not work. Being topolitical puts them on the grass, on a platform of soft ease. We can design for that.
KC: Right, the double outside's contingency on the new place that is the third, points to a new exchange value, which stays open, free and responsible. We need to pursue instances that are brimming with this and make places that spark a functional, conscious, hearty inside.
Katherine Carl is a writer and curator in New York pursuing a PhD in Art History and Criticism at the State University at Stony Brook. She has worked at Dia Center for the Arts since 1999 and teaches currently in the Department of Art at New York University.
Srdan Jovanovic Vajs is an architect that lives and works on relation New York - Novi Sad. He is one of the founders of "Normal Group" initiative, which encourage interdisciplinary discussion of current topics in contemporary visual culture, architecture, art, and media.
, Pavel Braila (MD);
, Hubert Czerepok (PL) with M. Bakke
, Joost Conijn (NL);
, Milica Lapcevic, Vladimir Sojat, Vamsi, Nebojsa Milenkovic (SCG);
by NOMAD (TR)
Location: , Danube,
Marking Accession: Trans_Euro Toast
, Multimedia opera
text: Slobodan Tisma, director: Andras Urban (SCG)
Location: Sremski Karlovci 12:00h
Mobility in Practice: Visit to
Location: Vorovo, Fruska Gora
Journalist Teofil Pancic has been editor-in-cheef of 'Vreme', Serbian political magazine. He is a columnist that publishes his work in different newspapers and magazines. With his work, he tries to contribute to "complete, undisturbed freedom of public speech production, which is the most hygienic thing in the world!".
Historian Andrej Grubacic is a contributer to a large number of international periodicals, and is actively involved in progressively-orientated initiatives. He writes for 'Z' magazine, works with the Media Institute in Boston, and is the author of a number of papers on neo-liberal globalisation. He is one of the founders of the Institute for the Research of the Global Movement which is attached to the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. He is the author of the books, The Globalization of Refusal (Globalizacija nepristajanja, Svetovi, Novi Sad, 2003), and The Global Movement (at press, in English).
Petar Milat is co-director in the department for theory 'past forward' in net.culture center "mama" in Zagreb, and a free-lance researcher and translator. He is editor of several philosophical, social- and media theory series in Zagreb ('mama', 'Jesenski & Turk'). Mostly interested in constellations of contemporary social theory and aesthetics, with the accent on French and Italian philosophical context.
Past.forward is the department for theory within "Multimedia institute" in Zagreb. Since it's establishment in 2000 Past.forward has been promoting new theoretical practices (foremost the critical social theory & aesthetics) both in Croatia and in the Ex-Yugoslav realm. Members of the group are editing several philosophical series, and Past.forward was hosting numerous important theorists.
Janko Baljak (SCG), documentary film about the economic and moral decline of a country and its people 80'
Is the failure of reform a fate Serbia is unable to avoid? Why have all the leaders that have tried to bring the country closer to Europe been eliminated? In what way do economic interests unite politicians, the mafia and other criminals? Serbia in a Trash Can is not only a story about the death of reform and the fate of reformers since the death of Josip Broz Tito right up to the assassination of Serbian premier Zoran Ğindic, but a detailed analysis of the causes of the failure of reforms, and examines the 'Curse of Reformers' whose fate it has been to be steam-rollered between social unrest, political pressure and weak institutions.
Janko Baljak (SCG)
Throughout the nineties and in the first years of the new century Janko Baljak has concerned himself with documentary film. He is the author of a series of productions which have been acclaimed both at home and abroad. Among these works are See You in the Obituaries (Videmo se u citulji) and Anatomy of Pain (Anatomija bola). He is likewise the author of a dozen or so television programs dealing with culture and the arts. He is one of the founders and leading creative voices behind B92 Film Productions, established in 1993. In September 1995, he was employed firstly as a teaching assistant, and then as an assistant lecturer to Prof. Goran Markovic, who lectures in film direction in the first year of studies at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade. In September 2003, he became a senior lecturer and currently teaches an introductory course in film direction to students from all film disciplines at the same faculty.
In the discourse on migration, visual culture is increasingly important for
its deployment. Who and how one is represented in the public media - and thereby
made visible - offers information over which subject position he or she can
assume in the existing societal formation. The portion of the transitmigration
project under the direction of the Institute of Design and Art Theory focuses
therefore on the visual culture and practice of migration. Among other things,
how migration has been represented in the media since 1989. What image of
migrants has been seared into the visual discourses? How does it relate to
the to the national or EU-European border regime, and how is this represented?
Are there local varieties of these visual discourses? How are the migration
regimes of flight, migration and even re-migration reflected in the public
The Institute of Design and Art Theory in collaboration with other research
institutes in the Mediterranean region will initiate a representational and
medial analysis of the current trend of making migration processes visible.
(Currently the project partners are Prof. Marina Petronoti
in Athens and Prof. Ayse Oncu in Istanbul as well as possibly
the WDR and the KHM Cologne).
Techniques and technologies of making visible
Through various visual art projects, the project transitmigration
will look at the practices of visualisation that seek to make migration describable
together with its constructive, constitutive and governance functions. This
entails all practices that first make people into migrants as well as those
that determine the discourse on migration - and our view of it. Accordingly,
Brigitta Kuster will investigate the perspectives in documentary
film practices from the European north onto the Mediterranean borderlands
and their scandalising narrative practices and active participation in the
border regime that are bound up with these practices. This visual arts approach
reproduces the narratives of migration, of the new borders and of practices
of resistance to them back into the German living room and therewith addresses
transnational connections in the present European everyday life reality. This
perspective is also central for the development of a soap opera
in which migratory lives, experiences and tactics taken from an oral history
project will be transported into a fictionalised screen play (see project
proposal for the soap opera).
Mappings of autonomy
Additional approaches developed previously will concentrate on the "autonomy
of migration" and its current localisation and local distinctions in the border
regime of Southeast Europe. Representations, in which the tactics and survival
strategies of migrants are recognisable practices that are autonomous and
cross state borders, can seldom be found. Just as rare a topic in the public
media and in the visual discourses bound up with it are the rationalities
and institutions of control and stratification, such as the camps, prisons
and shelters, borders, passports and police practices.
Moreover, the approach of the Serbian filmmaker Zelimir Zilnik
shifts the focus to the social and economic effects resulting out of the southward
relocation of the external EU border starting in 2004 into the region of Slovenia/Croatia/Italy
and the region of Hungary/Serbia. Here, Zilnik is interested in the tactics
of the migrants and the local actors; that is, how they appropriate this new
situation in their everyday lives, how they are either thwarted by it or use
it. How will it alter the local, informal economies in the region? Will new
relationships come into being, and just what kind of "waiting room" functions
will emerge for Croatians, Bosnians and Serbians as a consequence? Will there
be new fissures enabling passage across borders or will existing controls
be expanded? Where will the camps in Hungary and Slovenia be moved to, and
what will happen to the border economies between Hungary, Austria and Slovenia?
By doing so, the projects will link the geopolitical spaces of negotiation
in the South and the East.
In one documentary designed project to be led by Boris Kanzleitner and Manuela
Bojadzijev, these questions will be considered by taking a look at the inter-governmental
actors who are increasingly confronted with tasks related to the new European
migration policy, as for instance, the International Organisation for Migration
with its specific localisations in former Yugoslavia.
The Zurich based media artists' collective labor k3000 together
with the researchers and the cultural producers involved will develop a project
web site in the form of an e-zine in order to present the developments and
dynamics of the project from the perspectives of both the research and the
visual culture. Furthermore, labor k3000 will work on designing a virtual
cartography of the autonomy of migration and establish parallels with the
research networks and co-operation with other internet projects and groups
in northern, eastern and southern Europe. To do so, labor k3000 will utilise
cartographic methods and the technical possibilities of the internet (hypertext),
not to reproduce the national or external EU borders, but rather to make the
often continuously obscured activities, projects, resistances, initiatives
and everyday life experiences of migrants in a wide variety of specific locations
in Europe visible through a kind of anti-map.
A visual praxis
The cultural practices of migrants and their forms of articulation and survival
strategies will have a separate, autonomous position from the aforementioned
visual productions in the final 2005 Exhibition and Events
in Cologne. Here, the intersections between local consumption habits and niche
economies will be identified and placed alongside each other in order to expose
their tensions. In this way, the exhibition seeks to illustrate the existing
social fabric which the actors themselves reciprocally influence and transform.
Objects, goods and the migrant economies and social networks connected to
them will not simply be "described," but rather "performed" in order to portray
the rational of the border in contrast to its control apparatus and the respective
actors. The main focus of the concept of the exhibition in 2005, as developed
up to now (status as of October 2003), concentrates on the concrete places
in which "migration" occurs and becomes visible: From the living room of a
German household to the EU border posts, from the computer terminal of the
SIS (Schengen Information System) to the early evening soap operas in Greece
and other places - the local "markets" of migrants and their quarters, - in
pictures of the Europol and police stations and in images of the journey of
the migrants themselves.
Parallel with the appearance of various publications by the Italian operaists
and critical texts on neoliberalism from the English-speaking world, there
occurred in the European cultural scene of the 1990s a shift of perspective
with respect to the relation between self-organised creative work and the
politically and economically defined cultural economy: cultural producers
in Paris, Barcelona, Berlin, Munich, Zurich, London, Madrid - but also outside
Europe - began dealing increasingly in their praxis with the new economically
and socially conditioned mechanisms of exclusion that people experience daily
in the spheres of work and private life amidst the process of conversion to
a post-industrial information and service society.
Thus the work and life relations of cultural producers, and their relations
to their social situation, have in recent years been the object of increased
critical scrutiny, on both the local and the global levels. Feminist positions,
which treated informal work conditions and the genderizing of the new model
of flexible and mobile work (e.g., affective work or work that is technologically
determined, such as tele-work), have been discussed anew and applied materially
and strategically to cultural production. This occurred against the background
of the stylisation of cultural and generally unpaid or underpaid activities
and creative professions - formerly assumed to be exceptions to wage labour
- as models of self-determined work in Post-Fordist society, in order on the
one hand to press ahead with the dismantling of State responsibility, and
on the other to promote the entrepreneurial self-optimisation of the individual.
Politicians and economic policy-makers thereby assigned a forward-looking
role to creative professions in an economy based on information and innovation.
With the slogan creative industries (a marketing concept originating in the
culture industry and the broad field of creative work), they promised themselves
at the end of the 90s the generation of new forms of work, new work places
and innovative markets. Today, it is true, the attempt to capitalise on creative
work and bring it under the direct control of the capitalisation process that
is summarised in the phrase creative industries, has lost much of its public
appeal with the flop of the "new economy" and the "Ich-AG" (i.e., "I Inc.",
government subsidised self-employment for the unemployed) sector. But the
conversion to a society of self-reliant creative entrepreneurs who successfully
market their own obsessions is still underway, only less glamorously than
before. On the one hand, this process is concentrated above all in European
metropolises and so affirms a Euro-centric concept of culture; on the other
hand, creative work is increasingly being farmed out to other countries where
it is cheaper to pay. The model of the culturepreneur (a conceptual mixture
of culture and entrepreneur) has even become a new export good - as, e.g.,
the programmes of the British Council suggest. In the 90s, e.g., the young
British fashion industry, Brit-Pop and the phenomenon of YBA (Young British
Artists), were important inspirations for the export hit Cool Brittania, which
as a national label helped create a common marketing identity for the most
diverse creative industries. This was a successful joint venture between national
interests and creative work under the sign of a soft cultural-colonialism;
export goals of the world-wide lifestyle campaign were, among other places,
South America and Eastern Europe.
Towards what this social reconstruction, personified by the figure of the
culturepreneur, is tending, whom it serves and what effects it has on cultural
and political praxis and on theoretical approaches, will be discussed and
investigated by the research, exhibition and event project ATELIER EUROPA.
Astonishingly enough, in spite of the symbolic upgrading of cultural and creative
work, this work itself, its conditions, motives and actual desires were given
hardly any attention. Through two research projects, two blocks of events
and an exhibition, the project ATELIER EUROPA undertakes to redress concretely
this omission. Angela McRobbie compares, in her study, the conditions of production
in the area of independent fashion design in the urban contexts of London
and Berlin. In a second approach, for which Marion von Osten was responsible
and which was developed together with Pauline Boudry, Brigitta Kuster, Isabell
Lorey and Katja Reichard in Berlin, the former sociological analysis of creative
professions is coupled with the question of the precariousness and resistiveness
of cultural production. This part of the project is intended to take current
cultural practices into consideration, which develop not only aesthetic products,
but also discourses and socio-political fields of action. The program of events
additionally aims to achieve a transnational network of current theoretical,
political and cultural approaches. Both parts of the project will be documented
and publicized through a URL and a roughly 60-page insert especially designed
with Christoph Steinegger for the Drucksache, the Kunstverein Munich magazine.
Especially for this issue of the Drucksache Claudia Blum has designed an alphabet
in capital letters.
The symposium "Atelier Europa: Creative Labour in New Cultural Economies",
is conceived of as an Anglo-German focused dialogue which seeks to investigate
the relationship between the cultural-political conditions of the current
social-democratic governments and the field of self-organised cultural production.
One aspect of this investigation will be the current transformations and conflicts
that can be seen to reside within this relationship. The focus of the conference
will be on the patterns of work and life in the cultural industries, ethnic
and gender-specific roles and opportunities in the area of culture, and the
significance of value creation and economic efficiency for cultural production.
The general questions for discussion will be "How can flexibility among cultural
producers be promoted without advocating the neo-liberal system? What is the
social use of creative labour?"
The MoneyNations project took place for the first time in the Shedhalle in
Zurich from 23 October - 13 December 1998. The starting-point of MoneyNations
was to address the complex and contradictory process of forming collective
and individual identities in (radically) changing political conditions. Central
to this analysis was the fact that Western Europe's border policies in relation
to Central and South-Eastern Europe is tightening culturally and economically,
and the racial discrimination against non-Europeans associated with this.
The project concentrated on kindling an active debate between, and bringing
together, creative artists and media activists from Eastern and Western Europe
and looked at the way in which they are represented in the context of art,
as a social and symbolic location. We worked for over a year on setting up
a network of correspondents - the "KorrespondentInnennetz - in which theorists,
media activists and artists from Central and South-Eastern Europe worked from
different points of view against the production of borders by a Europe that
is centred above all on the West. The work that emerged from this process
of exchange includes video productions, photographic works, installations,
theoretical texts and narratives. The artists' and video producers' pieces
were introduced in the Shedhalle exhibition and are being shown in various
places in Eastern and Western Europe and further exploited as a basis for
work and discussion. The Shedhalle project was launched with a three-day congress
on the "Economy of the Border" and a workshop with media producers from the
former Jugoslavia. The project will continue next year probably in Bratislava
and in Vienna. All the contributions are published in English on the www.moneynations.ch
web site or in the publication "The Correspondent".
In the late eighties, the five founding European states of the Schengen System began developing a centralised system for the gathering and recording of data as a reaction to the abolishing of borders between EU countries, and thus the increased risks from terrorism, drug smuggling and organised crime, which were now able to spread unhindered within the borders of the European Union.
The SIS (Schengen Information System) was put into force in 1995 as the first supranational system for investigating and tracking people and objects, and could be accessed via local terminals in all Schengen member states. The system consists of a central operations unit located in Strasbourg, France, which is connected to individual national systems.
The computer game Schengen Information System, Version 1.0.3 follows the tradition of using the realm of computer games for the training and educational needs of military and ideological structures. The monopoly of the military and entertainment industries on the production of such games has led to the market being flooded with games, which with no moral or ethical questions whatsoever, use the real locations of armed conflicts and always put the player in the same ideologically correct position of participant. Locations are reconstructed on the basis of publicly available information, photography and satellite footage. The games raise questions regarding the use of computer games for ideological, marketing and educational purposes, the creation of private and state training centres, as well as the political acceptability of such games. On the other hand, this game is the result of the use of publicly accessible technology and information and is aimed at examining and observing elements of the system by the individual.
Past.forward is the department for theory within the "Multimedia institute" in Zagreb. Since its establishment in 2000 Past.forward has been promoting new theoretical practices (in particular critical social theory & aesthetics) both in Croatia and in the Ex-Yugoslavia. Members of the group edit several philosophical series, and Past.forward hosts the work of numerous important theorists.
Jean-Luc Nancy is Professor of Philosophy at Marc Bloch University in Strasbourg, France. He is the author of several, highly influential studies and he could be regarded to be the most important thinker of the generation following Derrida, Foucault, Deleuze and Lyotard. Regarding his influence, it can be easily stated that it is Nancy with whom French philosophy has truly entered the 21st Century.
The volume "2 essays" ("past.forward" series, publishers: "Multimedia institute" & "Arkzin") presents for the first time in an Ex-Yugoslav languages, two crucial Nancy' texts, which have heavily influenced philosophical thought in the last two decades." Inoperative Community" (1986) is the essay that initiated the so-called "political turn" within the philosophical deconstruction. Here Nancy very subtleydeals with the concept of community in the age where all certainties have disappeared, mostly the certainty of a sovereign political action. In "Being Singular Plural" (1996.) Nancy brilliantly develops the thought of a community without essence.
Ksenija Stevanovic, theorist, Belgrade Joanne Richardson (RO), media theorist Aleksandar Molnar, professor at Sociology department at Philozophy Faculty, Belgrade Biljana Srbljanovic, drama writer, Belgrade Lia i Dan Perjovschi (RO), artists Srdan Dragojevic, movie director, Belgrade Jovan Cekic, theorist, Belgrade Nenad Prokic, director of BITEF Theater, Belgrade Relja Drazic, philosopher, Novi Sad Ratko Radivojevic, actor, Novi Sad Dejan Sretenovic, main curator in Museum of Contemporary Art Belgrade Svebor Midzic, director of Center for Contemporary Art Belgrade Jelena Vesic, curator, Center for Contemporary Art Belgrade Ana Berlin (AT), theorist, Wien Gordana Comic, board member of European Integration of Republic of Serbia Government Aleksandar Lazarevic, president of board for culture and information of Republic of Serbia Government Branka Kulic, director of Gallery of Matica Srpska, Novi Sad Radmila Savcic, director of Museum of Contemporary Art Novi Sad Sava Stepanov, director of Center for visual culture "Golden Eye" Novi Sad Zorana Popovic, Media Impact, Belgrade Zoran Eric, curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Belgrade Zivko Grozdanic, director of Center for Contemporary Culture "Konkordija", Vr¹ac Mirjana Markovinovic, director of "Sterijino pozori¹te" Dragan Matic, professor at Akademy of Fine Arts Novi Sad, member of group "Art cirkus" Nikola Dzafo, LED art (Art Klinika), Novi Sad Jovan Gvero, SKC Novi Sad Dragan Gucunski, artist (SCG/NL) Laslo Blaskovic, writer, editor of magazine "Polja" Alternative Cultural Organiyation, Novi Sad Socijala Medija, Novi Sad Youth Council of Novi Sad KulturKampf, Nis Pop Kult, magazine, Belgrade
Accession to the EU means the so-called "acceding states" have to comply and
conform to a whole list of EU prescribed regulations and conduct feasibility
studies towards implementing the latter. Joining means accepting, performing
and perpetuating EU standards. Though the EU maintains to propagate cultural
diversity and difference, the dangers for a homogenized, standardized mono-cultural
Europe are lurking. From a perspective of those who are not elgible to join;
what are the implications for how standards are developed on their part: will
we see EU standards being countered by strong non-EU standards, etc... On
a more abstract level one could ask for those IN and those OUT:
What is a standard, and what does complying with a standard mean for issues
of identity? Will it deepen cultural divides, flatten them out, etc.... Is
it a mere tool for (quality) control, or is it a political tool, keeping Europe
together, and fostering an artificial European identity (euro-dentity), whilst
it somehow tries to redefine those OUT. We would like to address the issue
of standardization in a critical-playful manner by looking at how it affects
society and culture, the almost performative aspects of EU bureaucracy (standardized
administration) and its implications for social and cultural practice.
The act of "accession" connotes an upwardly mobile move towards joining a larger whole that signifies an improvement to the "old" situation. The very term already has a hierarchical and ideological ring to it. By corollary, those who are eligible to make this move are in a privileged position, and differentiate themselves from those who are unable to perform the move. Mobility, whether it is cultural, physical, economic, social, technological, or geographical is always concerned with permission(s); the scope of movement, who is IN and who is OUT, and what effect these particular movements entail. Free movement and circulation of ideas, information and goods could become curtailed on the one hand, and on the other hand, might become easier. With the expansion of the EU, it is imperative to examine which effects these notions of mobility and movements have on contemporary society and cultural production. This question begs to be considered on multiple levels.
How for example do notions of restrained/enlarged mobility affect international collaborative practices and exchange of knowledge? If paths of 'cultural movement' are already mapped, then what does that mean for inter- and trans-disciplinary practices? Despite developments in ICT, mobile telephony and the Internet, the materiality of movement is very much about the movement of physical bodies, not data bodies.
Every one knows, if he or she knows nothing else, that Europe will change its shape from one day to the other, when ten new member states accede the EU on May 1st 2004. There is much fear as well as much hope, but only for one simple reason: some borders seem to disappear. At least, this is the official version, or half of the truth, if you will.
But what will really happen? Where have the borders been moved to and how do these actual developments affect people who have been living and working from borders, alongside borders, against borders, or across borders?
In the next few months an independent, international and interdisciplinary commission is going to start to investigate the realities around Europe's new borders: new media and noborder activists, filmmakers, video and photographers, DJs and VJs, fine art and performance artists, scientists and investigators will set a series of events in motion that surround, circumvent and perforate the borders of Europe.
On the one hand BORDER04 is a virtual travel along both sides of the new borders of an enlarged European Union, from the Balkans to the Baltic States. On the other hand, BORDER04 will connect and short-circuit projects, activities and debates about migration and the expansion of the borders of the EU. It will par issues about mobility, mobile technologies and freedom of movement, with those about freedom of communications. And examine the future dimensions of networking, its impact on people living within the borders of the EU, and those previously, temporarily or permanently outside of it.
BORDER04 has emerged out of a movement that was organizing and promoting noborder camps for the past six years. When in July 1998 a few hundred activists put up their tents for a ten-day stay near Goerlitz, - only a few meters away from the border river the Neisse - the example set a precedent, and in the following years the summer camps along the outer borders of the European union had multiplied.
Yet, it wasn't about campfire romanticism. Instead of a 'back to nature' theme, the motto was "Hacking the borderline!" Characteristic of the border camps was a multiple strategy consisting of the exchange of skills, experiences and political debates, more or less traditional political education taking place in remote areas and direct actions with the aim of disrupting the smooth running of the border regime.
Up to now there have been more than 25 noborder camps, as close as possible to the actual border: from the first beta version at the German-Polish border in 1998, to the joint European one in 2002 in Strasbourg with several thousands of participants; from Tijuana in the north-west of Mexico, to Woomera in the Australian desert; from the Frankfurt international airport with its extra-territorial detention center, to the central foreigners' database in Cologne; from Tarifa at Streets of Gibraltar, to Frassanito at the Streets of Otranto.
Last year, during a noborder camp in a small town in Romania something astonishing happened. By chance a young guy passed by. He works for a corporation that manufactures hardware for brand name electronics companies near the Hungarian-Serbian border.
He told the story of an unsuccessful attempt to unionize the workers of this factory, and described a vicious circle with enormous symbolic impact. Snared within the boundaries of the local, every attempt to self-organize apparently lead to nothing but an affirmation of - and increase in - the power of a corporation that operates globally, and constantly blackmails workers with threats to close down the factory site, and move production to a different part in the world.
A few weeks later a group of the noborder activists went back to Romania in order to interview agricultural workers they got in contact with. The workers just won a wage claim against a German farmer who refused to pay their salary, and blackmailed them with their illegal status. For outsiders such a success story certainly comes as a surprise, so why not to share these kind of experiences with others living and working under similar conditions?
Were these just two rather exceptional individual cases, or were they exemplary in the way they referred to widespread problems along and across the outer borders of Europe? Most likely the latter. At least from both conversations the idea sprung up, that it might be time to reshape the concept of noborder-camps.
The political credit of the original concept was long overdue. It seemed to make sense to think about a radical re-launch according to various criteria. Research rather than protest, experiment with incalculable movements and mobility rather than recycling the all too predictable grammar of binary confrontations, an attempt towards the greatest possible openness and curiosity rather than a static or even hermetic attitude.
BORDER04 is the common framework for a certain range of local and remote, mobile and stationary activities that will take place in summer 2004. It is a modular, temporary, and tactical association of various new media and network initiatives, from the eastern, western, southern and northern parts of Europe.
1. Tracing the routes of migrant labor:
The many faces of migration cause dramatic changes that are not solely affecting local and remote economies. People in transit, commuters between East and West, seasonal and domestic workers, build concepts of Europe that are based on mobility, no matter if unsolicited or involuntarily.
Despite the fact that for up to seven years the free circulation of labor force is suspended, the EU enlargement could be seen as a de facto amnesty for hundred thousands of illegalized workers, originating from the ten accession states who stay at least part-time in the countries of Old Europe. Instead of deportation these workers may fear only fines now.
In a broader view, such a privileged, yet illegal status may very likely turn out to be one of the cornerstones of an emerging labor management regime that is set up to exploit cheap, migrant workforces without basic social right: a new emerging form of hyper exploitation.
Border crossing between the former East and West, urban centers and maquiladora zones, luggage and transit economies, agricultural and affect industries, will produce new roaming subjectivities of hyper-alienation with a yet incalculable power and potential.
2. Mapping the spaces in-between:
Theoretically it's only a small drift from what lies beyond the limitations of national imagination to the imaginations of those outside of it. But in practice, the spaces between Europe and non-Europe are being dispersed, extracted and contracted by numerous movements of very different actors.
The dissemination of social, political and cultural rights management relate to a virtualization of border regime that no longer relies on the operations of inclusion and exclusion. The old notion of the border is gradually replaced by a highly differentiated and flexible system of bio-political control with different levels of density and intensity.
How to find and how to map the lines of flight that are escaping paranoia and enclosure? What does it mean to be in motion or in movement? How are processes of self-organization constituted, even in extreme situations, such as detention or transit?
3. Crossing the borders from the real to a virtual Europe:
There is no Europe and there is no East. Today both concepts refer to nothing but failure.
Leaving traditional political and geographical notions of Europe behind, the new communication technologies, as well as the flows of migration, shape a virtual Europe that is characterized by its openness and its potentials rather than its borders.
There is an non-representable multitude of Europe actualized in the recent struggles of social movements, in the autonomy of migrant workers and undocumented migrants, in the experiences of social networking and creativity across borders.
Working on these three fields, BORDER04 will consist of four modules that will be developed and carried out by independently operating teams that are networking amongst themselves.
In order to investigate subjectivities and the constitutive power of people crossing borders and networking across borders, research units will work on frequently asked questions. How does a redesigned European border regime change the daily life of the people in the areas of the new border regions? What are the stories, experiences and desires of people living on either side of the new border of the new official, EU, and in the midst of a virtual Europe? What are the living conditions of people on the move from, or into precariousness, illegality or detention centers? How do workers in the world market factories struggle and organize -- on either sides of the new borders?
BORDER04 involves remote activists and local community organizers in workshops and training programs in both an ad hoc, as well as in a sustainable fashion. It will focus on skill sharing to enable and empower people with the practical use of new media technologies, by providing connectivity, introducing open source software, and offering unfettered access to communication tools.
The project of a transnational migration guide is planned to support and empower people on their way to find better living or working conditions, regardless whether it is temporary or permanent. There will be a special focus on the potential of digital media to facilitate dialogue and communication across national borders, and on the power of filmmaking, photography and storytelling in the negotiation of emerging, hyphenated identities.
In order to present the images and narratives of an emerging culture that is created around the issues of knowledge sharing and transnational mobility, BORDER04 will present exhibitions, screenings and performances in public spaces and in collaboration with local and international artists and art institutions.
BORDER04 aims to document the experiences, acquaintances, results and achievements of the project publically in real-time or near real-time. Therefore internet connectivity is one of the key issues. BORDER04 will be accompanied by a specially equipped van that provides a high-bandwidth internet connection via satellite. Using all available media from print to radio to video in different output-formats, the real-time documentation of a project at such an extent aims to facilitate dialogue and interactive communication.
BORDER04 is a virtual project insofar that it should turn out to be something different to what was imagined in the beginning. It is open end, work-in-progress, actualizing the virtualities of a movement of movements day by day, move by move, step by step. It is an experiment, in order to explore different concepts of mobility and its effects on acting, activism and networking.
100 km from the new European border, artists and media practitioners are gathering to critically discuss the current state of Europe Inside and Europe Outside. The abolishing of border regimes opens completely new perspectives but on the other hand creates new interdependences.
Referring to the picnic that happened in 1989, the Transeuropean Picnic in Novi Sad is organized near the new transnational border as a response to the notion of spontaneity of EU enlargement. The event of 1989, when Otto von Habsburg, together with some other European parliamentarians organized a spontaneous picnic on the border between Austria and Hungary, symbolically opened the door to the West for a while, and then closed it again. The Picnic on Fruska Gora Mountains in 2004, near the new transnational border, might trigger a new opening for the people beyond the new borders.
For Art & Culture this is a chance for the exchange of ideas, communication,
networking and free movement of people. It is a chance for people on the internal
peripheries of the EU, those who once upon a time were unable to travel. For
those who are on the external borders of the EU free movement is still not
an option...It is interesting to see how the neoliberal agenda of free flows
of people, information, capital and goods is actually working. Today the border
is of no importance for the free exchange of information (unless you don't
have access to electricity and a phone line, but this is a problem of the
infrastructure), it is of no importance for flows of capital (financial transactions
are spreading through global networks), the border is not important even for
trade of commodities with the current move towards the global market of free
trade. The border today is dominantly biopolitical. And this is the target
where artists and activists are focusing their attention. Towards the absurd
fact that we have all these free flows of non-organic commodities and values
on the one side, and on the other, human movement appears the most dangerous
social practice. Artists and media activists were most active during the nineties,
working to bridge the gap between East and West Europe; festivals such as
Ostranenie or nettime's meeting the Beaty and the East aimed to bring closer
artists from both sides. With the boom of the Internet in the nineties, artists
and cultural workers recognized the potential of these communication tools.
For that practice the establishing of mailing lists such as the Syndicate
network and nettime was crucial. In Eastern Europe, on the one hand, there
were state institutions that weren't able to respond to new social circumstances,
which also did not have tools to analyze the contemporary art production at
that time, and on the other, there was the Soros network of Centers for Contemporary
Arts as a parainstitution supporting artists who were not able to approach,
for them, closed state institutions. With the geopolitical shift at the beginning
of the millennium, Soros cultural support moved towards Central Asia and other
regions outside of Europe, thus creating an empty space before the implementation
of the European cultural framework and infrastructure. Special and important
parts of this framework are regulations and norms regarding the protection
of intellectual property rights and copyright regimes that European legal
bodies are fostering. Eastern Europe was known as a space with weak regulations
regarding these issues particularly in culture, media & software industry.
Similarly to a thousand years ago, when Christian Europe took over the heritage
of the Roman Empire, becoming a member of the Christian Commonwealth, a member
of the civilized world, was a matter of the symbolical acknowledgment of statehood.
Europe is again becoming an Empire, thus preparing to act at the global level.
Preserving the tradition of Rome, the official language of the European Union
is Latin. The Latin core underneath New English, which is a project oriented,
analytical language of bureaucracy inside application forms, project descriptions,
logical frameworks and task forces. It is the language of the norms and regulations
that had served systems for more than 2000 years to create administrative
architecture, social control and efficient production.
Is Eastern Europe a new/old periphery in the new/old Empire, as it always was in the past? Will Eastern Europeans move into a situation like the one before 1918? Historical analogies might not be fruitful, but they could bring memories of old historical traumas. On the other hand, to what extent is the 'civilization' threat from the Orient the accelerator of further European enlargement, thus preparing an agenda of common security in PAX EUROPEANA?
The strong engine of European enlargement is the very fact that it is a process, with an inherent potentiality, which is the ultimate capitalist dream of an endless horizon, something that Lyotard described as 'affinity to infinity'. So far nobody has asked the question of when the European enlargement will end, when the process will be over, who will be the last state/nation that will join the EU? When someone finally determines the final borders of Europe, there will be its first crisis. Or is Orwell's Eurasia on the horizon?
Brace Mogin 2
PO Box 22, Detelinara
21113 Novi Sad, Serbia and Montenegro
tel/fax: +381 21 512 227
Katolicka porta 5
21 000 Novi Sad, Serbia and Montenegro
phone: ++381 (0)21 528 972 fax: ++381 (0)21 25 168
Stevana Musica bb
University Campus, Novi Sad
21 000 Novi Sad, Serbia and Montenegro
, Novi Sad
The Petrovaradin Fortress was originally built on the border between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire. Today, the Fortress could be viewed as a symbolic defender of European values: a Europe of difference on one hand, and a stronghold defending and protecting Europe from its Other, on the other hand. Hence, the Petrovaradin Fortress is a mise-en-scene, a borderline, an imaginary frontier: a symbol of 'Fortress Europe'.
, Sremski Karlovci
The Chapel of Peace in Sremski Karlovci is the site of the 'Karlovac Peace', signed in 1699 between the Ottoman Empire, Austria, Venice and Russia. It was the first time in history of diplomacy that Round Table was used to represent equality of the confronted parties. The notion of Round Table, an open dialogue, negotiation and compromise stands in stark opposition to the Fortress (Petrovaradin Fortress).
Eight months ago, over over-priced coffee at the N5M4 festival1
in Amsterdam, while discussing the upcoming shifts in the current trans-European
political climate, and its effects for culture and art, the idea for an initiative
addressing the impact of the expansion of the EU on cultural praxis - and
media art in particular - started to germinate. As all impulsive projects,
the Trans_European Picnic was born out of the "spur of the moment"
concerns, and real issues, we saw ourselves as cultural practitioners - on
either side of the EU - dealing with. While 2004 boasts many events examining
EU enlargement from a political, economic, civil society point of view, or
- also popular - a cultural policy-making level, few events really focus on
the consequences EU enlargement might have for artistic production, from the
bottom-up. Indeed, it seems that much stuff baring the EU-stamp of approval,
is tainted by administrative protocol, managerial lingo, and bureaucratic
convolution: a natural deterrent for artists who want to make work, and let's
face it, not be managers. We felt the need to organise an event that was different
in format and scope than the usual conference and symposium: we wanted to
create a platform for exchange that was horizontal, open, performative, and
that first and foremost granted agency to the shapers of culture, that is
the motley crew of artists, theorists, media practitioners and activists.
By commemorating the Pan-European Picnic, held in 1989 in Sopron (Hungary),
which was one of the catalysts for the further dismantling of the Iron Curtain,
we developed the idea of the Trans_European Picnic, offering bite-size chunks
of information: tasty, yet critical. Far from being a polemic and intellectual
space only, the Picnic is also intent to be a social and enticing gathering
of kindred spirits.
If British sociologist Anthony Giddens' diagnosis is right, that nowadays
we live in a "Runaway World", where things "[r]ather than being more and more
under our control, seem out of control... [and where] some of the influences
that were supposed to make life more certain and predictable for us, including
the progress of science and technology, often have quite the opposite effect."
(p.2)2. Then the expansion
of the EU on May 1st fits neatly into this scenario: on the one hand it is
an attempt to open up, to embrace the difference- if you will - of the acceding
states. Yet on the other hand, this embrace is one of discipline, regulation,
and control. With more regulations and EU policies to cultivate in the backyards
of an enlarged Fortress Europe, the semblance of a controlled - yet diverse
- space is created. In other words, the unwritten EU "Open Sesame" policy
line runs something like: "Yes, do join us, but only if you become more like
us, and please do not flaunt your difference too blatantly, because we do
find that a wee bit unsettling." So is EU accession also a symptom of this
"Runaway World" we so desperately want to keep in check, for it might takes
us to places of instability and chaos? Does an acceptance of difference, more
specifically multi-culturalism, inevitably go hand in hand with the desire
for a homogenous and safe - i.e. non-Other monoculture?
Instead of dwelling on a cultural technocrat's or rather eurocrat's wet dream,
and list numerous initiatives and documents promoting cultural difference,
I would like to share a few concerns and observations about the impact of
the EU enlargement for cultural mobility and cultural identity formation.
First of all it is telling that as organisers of the Trans_European Picnic:
The Art and Media of Accession, we made a move from the Pan-European
Picnic to the Trans_European Picnic. A mere change in prefixes,
one could say, yet very much a sign of the times, and a marker of a cultural
mood. While the prefix "pan-" indicates an encompassing and unifying whole,
"trans-" signifies a movement traversing separate entities. In the latter
case one does not get a sense of unification or homogeneity, but rather of
connecting the interstices between the fragmentary pieces. It is, of course,
historically logical that in 1989 one would herald a "Pan-European" Picnic
in the spirit of East/West unification. Yet, by putting an emphasis on the
transitory state of affairs, and incorporating the obstacles involved in any
kind of inter- and trans-cultural dialogue, the Trans_European Picnic
figures as a reality-check for (media) art practitioners on the inside and
the outside of the EU. Far from propagating a utopian, or conversely a pessimistic
view, the Picnic aims to show the complexities, and material difficulties
and/or delights art workers across borders have to deal with. From Istanbul
to Budapest, from Prague to Rotterdam, the Trans_European Picnic's
main objective is to show that cultural and geographical mapping need not
15 years after the fall of the Wall, the dream of a strong econo-political - let alone cultural - Europe still looks better on paper than in practice. European cultural policy is geared more towards bureaucrats than artists, making it almost impossible for small collectives or independent art workers to participate in EU programs. By corollary, voluntarily or involuntarily, the EU is promoting the further institutionalisation and bureaucratisation of culture, leaving little leeway for alternative, innovative and radical projects. One could say that in and by itself this move is an emergency procedure to resuscitate the - by now - archaic traditional European cultural structures. As Frederic Jameson has pointed out in his essay "Europe and its Others":
[T]he new European multi-culturalism is of course the positive side of the
new European racisms...the ambitious fantasies which flourished immediately
after the end of the Wall, which promoted a pan-European culture and attempted
to realize it, across all language barriers and above all across the East-West
ideological barrier... reflected the feeling that Western European culture
was a glittering but dead museum, and that the Eastern experience could
prove invigorating and productive. (p.301-2)3
The power dynamics at play here are obviously clear: the culture of the "deep West" is still the norm, albeit with a spiced-up energy injection from the proximate East with a flair of exoticism, neo-orientalism, or balkanism.
Especially in the past 5 years we have seen a plethora of exhibitions and
shows expressing a fascination with the "near Other", that is the (former)
East and the Balkans. For example: In the Gorges of the Balkans (Vienna
2003), East of Art: Transformations in Eastern Europe (New York,
2003) After The Wall (Stockholm, 1999). Despite the high quality
of most of these shows, the curatorial perspective is still overtly geographical
in focus, and perpetuates the us/them dichotomy, thus only facilitating an
inter-cultural dialogue of a limited kind in the best case, and an isolationist
effect in the worst case. Hence, the curatorial and artistic/creative question
how to articulate a merger of aesthetics and difference with an innovative
vision, which transcends traditional ways of (re)presentation and production
is an urgent one. It is within this realm we hope the Trans_European Picnic
can spark debate, pinpoint new cultural parameters, and perhaps lay out a
fertile matrix to build on. Our point of departure is neither from the EU
periphery to the EU centre, or vice versa - if one can simplify matters to
such an extent. Neither do we want to tarry endlessly over the dynamics of
inclusion and exclusion, however relevant and important they may be. What
somehow binds the picnic's participants together is the transitory nature
of their work in content, as well as in practice. It is literally "on the
move", mutable to contextual changes, hence defying standardisation. It is
this flux, played out in the backdrop of a "new" Europe, we would like to
bring to the fore.
Now, in the case of media and electronic art, we often think that internet connectivity and communication technologies render all borders and boundaries obsolete. Yet, it is not because most of us are online to greater or lesser degree, wield our mobile phones as prosthetic limbs, and frequent the same new media festivals, that our usage of technology is the same. Quite the contrary, the cultural use and appropriation of technology is - I would argue - extremely situated and site specific. In addition, the ambiguous nature of technologies, whether used for commercial, broadcasting, artistic or other purposes, is also something to be taken into account. Far from being neutral tools, media, or artefacts, technologies are heavily imbued with a myriad of political, ideological and social scripts. Accordingly, they figure as fundamental markers and indicators of political and cultural shifts. Whether it is a connected performance using streaming technologies, a DJ/VJ performance, a game modification, real time broadcasting media, or even good old video... they are cultural expressions going far beyond their medial state only.
Regardless whether one's bandwidth is high or low, or whether technological access is prevalent or not, I want to stress the mundane fact that ultimately it is the mobility of the physical bodies of art workers, which enable and reinforce inter- and trans-cultural collaborations. In other words, it is the forced physical and mental curtailing of mobility, which effectuates a creative stagnation, a loss in knowledge exchange, or worse, a resort to the dreary world of habit. Habit is as Vilém Flusser eloquently puts it "like a cotton blanket. It covers up all the sharp edges, and it dampens all noises. It is unaesthetic (from aisthesthai = perception), because it prevents bits of information from being perceived, as edges or noises. Because habit screens perceptions, because it anaesthesizes, it is considered comfortable."(p.105)4
If our Runaway World" puts habit out of joint, and forces us to change and shed our cloak of comfort - instead of fighting it - then the Trans_European Picnic is an invitation to run with it!
1 Cfr. http://www.n5m4.org/ 2 Giddens, Anthony.
Runaway World: How Globalisation is Reshaping our Lives. New York: Routledge,
2003. p.2 - 5. 3 Jameson, Frederic.
"Europe and its Others". Unpacking Europe: Towards a Critical Reading.
eds. Salah Hasan and Iftikhar Dadi. Rotterdam: Nai Publishers, 2001. p.294-303.
4 Flusser, Vilém. "Exile and Creativity". Writings. Trans. Erik Eisel. Ed. Andreas Ströhl. Minneapolis: Minneapolis UP, 2002. p. 104 - 9.
on the occasion of the first Trans-European Picnic, April 30, 2004
"Tear it down and take it with you"
- slogan of the Pan-European Picnic 1989
Enticed by a visit to Debrecen in Eastern Hungary in late 1988 by the president of the Paneuropean movement Otto von Habsburg, local (then opposition) politicians gave birth to the idea of organizing "a happy friendly meeting, a real picnic, on the spot of the iron curtain for all those who are participants in the camp of community of fate".1
With the intention of holding a border opening "ceremony", the organizers made it possible, in effect, for over 600 citizens of the German Democratic Republic vacationing nearby at Lake Balaton to break through into Austria at Sopron. The Pan-European Picnic on August 19, 1989, accelerated the East German exodus, which ultimately led to the collapse of the Berlin Wall and with it the state socialist systems across Eastern and Central Europe. The picnic organizers originally did not plan such a 'break-through' by the East German citizens, but rather a primarily symbolic festivity straddling the recently and only tentatively open Hungarian - Austrian border. This however in the context of the still lingering Cold War, and with the support of local government and border officials, as well as with the tacit support of the West German consular staff in Hungary, and of course by the Pan-European politicians led by Otto von Habsburg, former heir to the Austro-Hungarian crown who sits as a European parliamentarian in Strasbourg.
It was felt that the time for recovering the "stolen" Central-Eastern Europe was at hand. Following the logic that the idealistic euphoria such a moment carried - that once the curtain was slashed, the nations freed, that the harbor of the European Community would shortly be docked at. For the EC was no longer simply and strictly an economic club of Europe's powerhouse economies - only a short time earlier had Greece (1981) and Portugal (1986), acceded. Austria, the "co-site"' of the picnic to which the "break-through" occurred itself was not yet a member, but the clarity of mobility and self-determination that an ostensibly free and open Europe represented echoed beyond the boundaries of regulatory and economic political associations. Europe was still Europe, and the EU was still the EC, a community of European countries within Europe. After a decade and a half the events of that first Pan-European Picnic have come full circle. For the Picnic initiator, Hungary, the idealistic process begun in 1989 has been achieved. However, by becoming an association of the "majority", the European (now) Union has irreversibly shifted beyond its political and economic mandate to become a near self-fulfilling prophecy caught in the shadow of its own idealism. Re-building these notions of open society called for the by the EU and meeting the true economic criteria of an increasingly inward looking group of individual nations concerned with their own problems has obviously been slower than the idealists imagined.
Past Czech president, former inmate and ardent picnicker, Vaclav Havel recently noted (on Euronews, no less) that the fears and expectations of those within the EU toward those joining the EU are partly blind and misguided. Nations, such as his Czech Republic that once had well developed economic, political and judicial systems, that, like a piece of fine furniture smashed into countless shards of wood, can only painstakingly and with great amounts of time and patience be restored to their original quality - if ever again.
The Paneuropean Movement, on whose banner the current EU flag is based, was founded in 1922 by a (fledgling republican) Austrian Count, Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi. Paneuropeanism aimed at a peaceful unification of Europe and avoiding a new and disastrous war, which was already threatening the continent. In 1923 Coudenhove-Kalergi published "Pan-Europe" in which he predicted that if Europe would not be capable of uniting into an economic, political and military union (Pan-Europe), it would be "threatened by rising nationalism, Germany turning towards an aggressive track, and an alliance between revanchist Germany and aggressive Soviet Russia. This would, inevitably lead into a new catastrophic war, which would end with a division of Europe into a totalitarian Eastern bloc ruled by Russia, and a Western protectorate dominated by the United States."2
Otto von Habsburg, with no Imperial dynasty left to rule, joined the movement,
and after the cataclysmic war prophesied by his mentor accelerated the work
to construct a united Europe. Upon Coudenhove-Kalergi's death in 1973 he went
on to become the president of the International Paneuropean Union. "At the
time, building a free and united Europe was possible only in the West. The
European Communities and later European Union were largely created according
to the initiatives presented by Paneuropeans"3
who have pushed for European political federalism, a European Passport and
for the abolition of border-controls.4
One can argue that they are also ultimately responsible for the recent shift
in jargon, even if not intentionally - that joining the EU means
joining Europe itself.
An 'open' Europe's outward expression of unity, dignity, mobility and equality were embodied in the notion of the 'picnic' as a grass-roots political act. Its simple and universal message about facing a remote freedom, unhindered, in this case across the void of an open field, under an open sky ... recalls the 'fleeting appearance of the unicorn', as Jean Genet once wrote, 'that the solitary view across an open plain embodies.'5
The word picnic itself seems to be traceable to 16th century France, in a text describing a group of diners who brought their own wine to the table. After the French Revolution in 1789 when royal parks became open to the public for the first time, "picnicking in the parks became a popular activity amongst the newly enfranchised citizens."6 Picnic, therefore, as a collective and social form of empowerment, where friends, acquaintances and the merely likeminded gather to meet, discuss, eat, drink and engage in peaceful, perhaps intellectual or artistic activity, or, as in the case of the Pan-European picnic to protest and rebel, in a poignant, symbolically meaningful location. Out of doors, and in the open. In such a context, "a picnic functions also as a temporary occupation of significant public territory."7
We, as media artists, cultural critics, telecommunications activists, see the Picnic on the eve and day of the largest and most politically symbolic enlargement of the European Union as a Trans-European event, affecting the structure and culture of both sides of the new pan-European divide. We, as Trans-Europeans, live and act within and beyond geophysical demarcations, our art is the art of electromagnetic space and our actions delineate communication as structure, dialogue and creative exchange. We occupy the territory of communication, our public space defined by the electromagnetic spectrum. Where these realms meet, the infrathin membrane between territory as figure-ground, and space as electronic media forms the site of our Trans-European Picnic. We reinstate this notion of the 'picnic' as a tool of symbolic empowerment, which fundamentally diverges from that of other qualified forms of debate such as the conference, summit or forum. We are not bound by an all-encompassing thematic umbrella, but are here to temporarily occupy real territory, with real borders, protocols and physicality. We, as Trans-Europeans, aim at linking art, culture and expression across all of Europe. Our purpose is to create a contemporary delineation of the symbolic space of Trans-Europe, beyond the utopian Pan-Europe now lost within the jargon of subsidiarity, accession standards and economic alignment.
"Die Stärke Europas liegt in seiner Vielfalt, Vielfalt in Einheit."
"Europe's strength lies in its diversity, diversity in unity."
German ambassador Hasso Buchrucker in recalling the Pan-European Picnic in 19978
Besides marking the moment of accession and the subsequent shifting of borders
the Trans-European Picnic will also examine Standards and Mobility as issues
central to both the identity and desires of the EU. These represent critical
intersections between the realities of accession and the borderless realms
of art and media culture. Where diversity may be seen as a factor of mobility,
unity is often subjugated as an excuse for misplaced standardization through
attempts at homogeneity. Where standards and norms once played an intrinsic
role in establishing qualitative niveaus meant to define common 'pan-European'
ideals ranging from the abstract notions of freedom and democracy to the concrete
use of common code, structures, jargon and imagery, a certain 'mythos of the
norm' has emerged. 'Counternorms' now are taking their place in the countries
of the 'near-outside', creating increasing moments of EURO-simulacra (an example
being Serbian 'EURO-krem', that delightful and decidedly hybrid cocktail of
outer-EU emulsifiers and sweeteners simulating a hard to define flavor of
an EU-conform cake filling). The Trans-European Picnic, from its strategic
vantage point of the 'immediate beyond' of the new transnational border on
the Vojvodina plain, looks thus to define this space in-between, across the
infra-EU ... the halfway in, halfway out. ... We may not be able to join,
but we can be just as EURO as U think you R!
What then of the non-European Europe, the near outside, the Euro-Beyond? Are those nations not engaged in accession talks, such as Serbia/Montenegro, Moldova and Macedonia ever going to become European? Has there been a shift of identity between those IN and those OUT?
"In political questions the Paneuropean Union concentrated on re-enforcing the European Union, to enlarge it and deepen it. The next enlargement of the European Union, which is planned for 2004, is an important step towards the re-unification of Europe. The next important goal for us is the further steps towards enlargement with countries which today do not have any realistic plans to become members of the EU."9
Today, a Paneuropean Picnic memorial, erected to embody the idea of a borderless, common Europe, sits on the site of that historic event. As it is with historical dates, their impact on history may only be judged in hindsight. Like that date, the fleeting, infrathin moment separating the 30th of April and the 1st of May 2004, will likely reveal such a space in time. The Trans-European Picnic, just beyond the shift of borders and perceptions, will mark this hinge in time and space - when the media were with us, and they know no borders...
One of the most frequently expressed fears in relation to EU enlargement is that the processes of standardisation will lead to loss of cultural diversity and specificity and that the EU will become a culturally homogenised space. As an approach to a debate on this issue, I will look at some features of the discourse about culture in EU documents related to culture and language planning in order to shed some light on the underlying conception of EU culture(s).
Culture entered EU documents in 1992, when it was acknowledged that it has an important role to play in the process of European integration. Thus, first the Treaty of Maastricht (1992), and later the Treaty of Amsterdam (1997) stipulates that
The Community shall contribute to the flowering of the cultures of the Member States, while respecting their national and regional diversity and at the same time bringing the common cultural heritage to the fore (Article 151).
Since then, a variety of policy papers, evaluation studies, recommendations and conventions have been written and expressions such as 'European culture' and 'European cultural identity' have entered the EU jargon. But, rather than analysing the content of these documents, I will focus on the language used in a random selection of texts available at the website of the Culture Portal of the European Union.
What immediately becomes obvious is that in most of these EU documents, as
in Article 151 itself, two words always appear in relation to culture: common
and diversity. Common typically appears together with European
and is used to refer to heritage, values, history,
future, and cultural area. In some cases expressions such
as common European cultural area are used interchangeably with European
cultural area, implying that 'common' in this context is becoming superfluous
since it is already contained within 'European'. In contrast, diversity
usually goes with national, regional and local,
and refers to things cultural and linguistic. This suggests
that there are two separate domains of culture: one of things common (which
tends to be presented as European) and the other of things diverse.
However, this division is not completely clear cut, as the linguistic analysis
reveals, since two notions belong to both domains: history and culture
itself. In contexts where history is presented as part of the domain
of the common (as in commonEuropean history), what is emphasised
is the values considered distinctly European, such as the Greco-Roman tradition,
Christianity, enlightenment, etc. When it is presented as belonging to the
domain of diversity, it is always juxtaposed to common future (as
in different histories but common future), which in a way minimises
the relevance of difference. Here we see a trace of the strategy to make diversity
common, which I will come back to later.
Culture, similarly, appears both as cultural diversity and the common
cultural area. This conception of the dual nature of European culture
becomes even clearer in the analysis of verbs used with these expressions.
Verbs are particularly important here since they point to planned actions
in the sphere of culture. Consistently with the previous delineation, two
domains of action emerge: on the one hand, 'things common' need to be created,
developed and brought to the fore, while 'things diverse'
are planned to be protected,preserved and supported.
The underlying assumption then follows that 'things common' do not yet
exist, are underdeveloped, and hidden in the background, while
diversity is (or will be) endangered, or in deterioratingstate and vulnerable. The discourse suggests not only the
dual nature of EU culture but also a dual approach to culture: common culture
is dynamic; there is a sense of movement, growth and development, while the
sphere of cultural diversity is viewed as static and unchanging. Although
both sides of culture are presented as valuable, the discourse suggests that
'things (culturally) common' are more important in the EU project.
Of course, this is not very surprising. It is well known that the process of identity building in any type of community emphasises what is common in order to create a sense of social cohesion. Culture and language play an important role in this process, as has been documented in numerous studies. In the EU too cultural and language planning are important tools for achieving the ultimately political and economic goals: a stable political entity where capital, goods and labour flow easily. For this to happen, all kinds of barriers need to be eliminated. But linguistic and cultural diversity cannot be eliminated if human rights and democratic values are to be respected. And this is where the conundrum lies: in order to be democratic, the EU must remain richly diverse; but in order to be cohesive and functional, the barrier of diversity must be minimised.
To understand the EU strategy for managing diversity, I will pay closer attention
to the document titled Common European Framework of Reference
for Languages (2001), which outlines the approach to primarily linguistic
but also cultural diversity in the EU. Right at the beginning, it is stated
that linguistic and cultural diversity can be converted "from a barrier to
communication into a source of mutual enrichment and understanding" (CEF,
p. 2). In fact, that is precisely the role of EU language planning: to achieve
European communicative integration in support of the political and economic
EU project. In linguistics, language planning usually refers to the process
of standardising a linguistic variety chosen to become the norm, i.e., the
main, or one of the official languages in a state/region, which is then codified,
modernised and implemented through the media and education (Crystal, 1987).
This is usually closely related to the process of national identity building
In the EU, the linguistic norm selected is the diversity of languages. This means 20 official languages (with New Europe included) and about a hundred languages in total if all regional, minority and immigrant languages and varieties are included. The rest of the language planning process is crucially different from what usually happens: instead of regulating the language(s) itself/themselves, which is left to the individual member states, EU language planning targets language users and their language practices. This is where the EU Empire is (or aims to be) fundamentally different from the melting pots and salad bowls of other linguistically and culturally diverse constructions. And that is why the document carefully stresses the difference between multilingualism/multiculturalism and plurilingualism/pluriculturalism, stating that the former - in the sense of the presence of more than one language and culture in a territory - are not the aims but rather facts of European reality. Instead, the notions of plurilingualism and pluriculturalism are introduced as follows:
Plurilingual and pluricultural competence refers to the ability to use languages for the purposes of communication and to take part in intercultural interaction, where a person, viewed as a social agent, has proficiency, of varying degrees, in several languages and experience of several cultures. This is not seen as the superposition or juxtaposition of distinct competences, but rather as the existence of a complex or even composite competence on which the user may draw. (CEF, p. 168)
What this policy envisages is developing a unified linguistic competence in EU citizens, which would contain a mosaic of bits of languages and language skills that will be readily available in various linguistic situations. In other words, this vision pictures plurilingual and pluricultural individuals comfortably mobile in multilingual and multicultural Europe, feeling at home everywhere, and, last but not least, being able to flow with the capital. This image is remarkably similar to what Adler (1974) called "the multicultural man", who is open and flexible, not rooted in one fixed identity but at the same time has a fluid sense of identity and inhabits a 'third-culture' space.
Linguistically speaking, this is a unique project. The idea of using not a particular language as a vehicle of social cohesion but rather the very concept of plurilingualism as a shared attitude or value is indeed remarkable. At this stage it can only be speculated what kind of long-term consequences this plan could have on, for example, the role of the mother tongue (in a situation where there is no one main language and one or more background, often dormant, languages but rather a melange of constantly active languages) or on the kinds of linguistic interactions between members of different nationalities who have access to similar repertoires of languages. In a broader context, the Europe of plurilingual citizens would no doubt be very different from other big multilingual constructions, such as the US. Perhaps it would be closer to India, where in addition to English and Hindi, a number of other languages are spoken; it is common to be bi- or tri-lingual and to code-switch among different languages in a single conversation.
As a linguist, I am excited about this development but as a survivor of a
somewhat similar unity-in-diversity utopia, I am a little sceptical. It is
true that there is already a group of people, in Old Europe, New Europe, and
Not-Yet Europe alike, who are able to code-switch and culture-switch with
ease. But this implies either a very closely-knit multilingual environment
or experience of easy mobility, in many places associated with elites only.
In contrast, according to EU statistics, 55% of EU citizens cannot talk in
a language other than their mother tongue. The idea of the language project
may be based on the realities of a small, socially privileged and intellectually
open group of people but hardly applicable to larger contexts. Further, the
role of English and its tendency to monopolise language landscapes has to
be taken into account. Although the EU language plan does not favour the idea
of any lingua franca for Europe, the reality almost certainly shows
that there is one already in circulation. And if people can already happily
communicate in it, will they want to invest time and energy into becoming
plurilingual? Next, the project's motto 'all languages for all' suggests
equality of languages and language access. But clearly some languages are
'more equal' than others. It is very likely that the linguistic repertoires
of EU citizens will contain more or less standard selections and combinations
of languages in which some will be winners and other losers. How will marginalization
of these languages (and by implication its speakers) be avoided? Further,
the language project focuses primarily on member state national languages,
while linguists point to very real dangers of language loss of minority, indigenous,
regional and immigrant languages (e.g., see Skutnabb-Kangas (2002) who shows
that Europe is already linguistically the world's poorest continent, containing
only 3% of the languages spoken in the world). As Philipson (2004) states,
"there is a serious risk, at both the national and the supranational levels,
of language policy remaining entrenched in linguistic nationalism, and obscured
by a false faith in English serving all equally well". Finally, looking beyond
EU borders, will this focus on EU languages take place at the expense of globally
important non-EU languages?
At this stage, there are no clear answers to many of these questions. What can be seen is that the EU diversity strategy is taking shape: to create cohesion and unity by making diversity common. On the level of individual linguistic and cultural practice, this strategy aims to change the attitudes of EU citizens towards diversity by developing in them a sense of ownership of its fragments. In other words, the idea is that the foreign, perhaps even the Other, should become part of the familiar, maybe even Our(EU)selves. It may be said that this approach to diversity aims to reverse the process of otherisation. But no one yet knows how realistic this grand EU linguistic, cultural - and ultimately identity - project is, even if there is enough political will and financial support at all levels. One thing is clear though: EU's inclusion of New Europe, until recently the strange eastern Other, will be the big test of the ideas of plurilingualism and pluriculturalism.
Adler, P. (1974). Beyond Cultural Identity: Reflections on Cultural and Multicultural Man. Topics in Culture and Learning 2: 23-40.
Skutnabb-Kangas, T. (2002). Why should linguistic diversity be maintained and supported in Europe? Some arguments. Skutnabb-KangasEN.pdf
Seminar at the European Parliament, June 24th and 25th, 2003
A report from the post-Yugoslav hygienic corridor by collective eimigrative art
, for collective Eimigrative art
As a socialist, but also an anti-Stalinist country, enjoying the protection of the NATO pact, because of its ambivalence, the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia has, for years maintained the hygiene of the cold war, playing the role of a buffer between the blocs. And while thousands of political dissidents from Eastern Europe were finding shelter in the state of non-real socialism (until 1989), a wall was made for the Yugoslav refugees at the time of real liberalism (from 1991), from recycled bricks of the Berlin Wall.
In other words, when the figure of the freedom fighter, the fighter for the much desired human rights, "the political emigrant", the ultimate witness, intellectual and sportsman, who was running away from totalitarianism through the dressing rooms of upper class Western department stores, was replaced by a refugee with a different appearance - the barefoot, ugly, dirty, evil, impoverished and uninvited, from the war zone of Yugoslavia, the one who, carrying only his bare life over his shoulder, sneaked through corn fields and knocked on the doors of the first country of Democracy, the State of Schengen, Europe was faced not only with the first great emigration since the October revolution, but also with a dilemma: the much spoken about freedom or real equality for all citizens of the joint European space. Nowadays, we definitely know that, in the case of Yugoslavia, the official European immigration policy had opted for a humanitarian discourse of abstract human rights, for temporary aid to the "liberated" in distress, but certainly not for a radical political solution of the complex problem of European emigration, of all those "from the periphery" who wish for a better life "inside". By closing itself ever more within their own walls by a segregation emigration policy, and by proposing recently even for a pushing of this policy outside its own back yard, the current emigration "policy" of the European Union is functioning according to the principle of amplification, that is increasing and not solving the problem, judging by the number of those who still struggle to get to the shores of the "Promised Land". It is a well-known thesis that the phantasmagoric location of the welfare state, in which even the Europeans do not believe anymore, is maintained exactly by those who swim to the shores of Europe, of whom 3,771 have died at the walls of Schengen since 1993. Among them, many ex/post -Yugoslavs.
In a development of this thesis, one might say that the general relation towards emigrants in the European region, when viewed in a longer time frame and after World War II, has all the signs of hypocrisy.
It is a fact that a person may enjoy protection only after he/she has entered the country. This drives people in need of protection to seek help from smugglers, since the legal routes of entry are very narrow. According to the professor of sociology at the University of Belgrade, Dragan Radulovic, who also deals in the problem of sex trafficking in the territory of Yugoslavia, the smuggling of refugees has always existed and is not a new problem. Activities of Oskar Schindler and Raul Weleberg would certainly be labeled as smuggling nowadays. But, during World War II, smuggling was considered as a heroic act. It became a problem in the 1990s, when an undesired wave of asylum seekers "arrived in Europe". Therefore, only when European countries made their border control stricter (through visa policies), the smuggling became a problem and a crime. But since the borders cannot be closed hermetically, the workforce that Europe needs has been criminalized in advance, and pushed into the hands of organized crime and criminal transaction networks. Here, we come to the boomerang-effect policy: by making the entry through the Doors of Heaven more difficult, the desire of those who are still on the other side to pass through it increases by the day, together with the desire of those who wish to make money out of other people's desires (organized crime).
Nowadays, (ex/post) Yugoslavian territory is a space with 250,000 people killed in the war (from 1991 until this day); 1.5 million internally displaced, while about the same number of them has emigrated. As many, maybe even more of them, are preparing to cross, illegally or not, the borders of the New Rome, the State of Schengen that is guarding the Empire from the upcoming Barbarians. The push factor of the post-Yugoslav emigration is certainly the slow transition process, but also the increasing dissatisfaction and poverty of the disappointed and tired population. The pull factor, the alluring one, is certainly the attractiveness of Europe, the effort it is investing in promising a better life for all those who opt for the civilization of secure, European values.
Together, all these factors make Serbia and Montenegro a country of the Third World, whose population, standing in long queues in front of European embassies, is struggling daily with the effects of the scandalous European emigration policy. The policy that has turned the workforce needed in Europe, through repressive policies, into illegal and cheap workforce, which does not participate in the social transition of European countries, and which has the status of sub-citizens. A fact should be added here that the current oppressive and, above all, unpolitical Europe's immigration policy - in which the only condition for legalizing papers is a humanitarian or asylum aspect - makes asylum seekers constantly make up and build up the misery in their biographies. No tragedy is big enough, no misfortune seems real, and we witness the wave of asylum seekers from the territory of Yugoslavia who, even today, freshen up their stories with details that they see as more pathetic than the existing horror and pathos.
Serbia and Montenegro is also a country that does not grant political asylum for third persons who enter the country on their way to the Schengen region. Currently, in an isolated motel near Belgrade, 33 persons and nine children - Afghans, Liberians, Iraqis and Somalis - are waiting for the certain negative reply from the local Interior Ministry. It is impossible to meet them without the mediation of the High Commissioner for the Refugees, whom we have not been able to find. Admitted into the Council of Europe, Serbia and Montenegro will also have to go through the process of normalization and harmonization with the European immigration policy. This means that a fictional possibility to seek asylum will be opened at key airports (experience of France and other countries speak about the phenomenon of hidden prisons for foreigners at European airports, which these fictional places turn out to be in the end). On the other hand, illegal immigrants, around 2,000 of them caught at borders every year, are being held in the Padinska Skela prison (20 km from Belgrade) for up to three weeks. Of course, only relevant is the number of those whom the local authorities do not catch. This short text is dedicated to them. The hundreds of thousands of the invisibles, uncounted, those who will never reach the camp. A thesis of Primo Levi says that "the key witness is absent, because he is dead". We agree and say: the key witness of Europe's immigration policy is the one who has not reached the camp, at this moment floating from one border of the Schengen region to another. He and hundreds of thousands like him, are the true and biggest obstacles for European democracy.
Interview with Alan Toner
Q: One of the important subjects of the upcoming enlargement of the European Union is the implementation of different sets of laws that should regulate certain processes in the acceding countries. Copyright laws and regulations of intellectual property are one of those laws, as part of standardizing, regulating and harmonizing creative production. Also, it seems that the United States has been very advanced in enforcing IP and copyright laws. What is the situation in Europe, or better to say, in the growing European Union, in terms of implementation/enforcement of copyright laws?
AT: There is a tendency to lay all the blame for these developments at the door of the US because the administration there has been so shamelessly militant in promoting industry interests. In fact, they've been fully assisted by the European Union and Japan since 1986. The EU has had its own expansionist drive, which started with the software copyright directive in 1991. In 1993 the copyright term was extended from 50 years to 70 years - an increase for every country of the Union except Germany. Instead of harmonising the exception down to 50 years - the duration required by the Berne Treaty - they increased the term to 70 years everywhere else. There have been five other directives regarding copyright alone and each one has expanded the exclusive rights of content owners with no consideration for any public interest. Another notable piece of legislation was the "Conditional Access" directive, whose intention was to protect copyright goods available via subscription and payment per view. It allows really heavy criminal sanctions for even non-commercial re-transmissions of encrypted programs, and infringers can get three years in jail just for a broadcast. The penultimate copyright directive is the European implementation of the "World Copyright Treaty" agreed in 1996; the result is the legal reinforcement of technical protections that prevent access - also known as "Digital Rights Management" - and limitations on the possibility to exempt uses for educational purposes or that set of reasons known variously as "fair use" or "fair dealing". The result is an extremely draconian regime constructed to control what can be done with cultural or informational works.
And yet, the copyright industry isn't satisfied. They insist that the enforcement apparatus is inadequate and inconsistent from one jurisdiction to another. They want to know that the police are making copyright control a priority, raiding factories where optical discs are produced, arresting street sellers of unauthorised CDs and DVDs. They want the tools to create a climate of fear to protect their "sacred" property. Simultaneously, the US has been pushing the use of bilateral trade negotiations to introduce criminal sanctions for infringement even in insignificant cases and greater police powers for investigation. Meanwhile, the European Union has just agreed on a new directive called "The Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive". Its basic schema is to collect the hardest investigative mechanisms from the different countries in Europe and integrate them and then impose that standard on every EU jurisdiction. This arsenal includes, for example, a British legal instrument allowing raids on private or commercial premises, the seizure of documentation and materials on the pretext that they are evidence which may be destroyed. This means that copyright industry can come to your door with the police to raid your place. Another element is called the "Minerva Order" that allows the copyright owner to freeze bank accounts of people that they allege to be copyright infringers. In a sort of poetic symmetry the directive was steered through by Janelle Fourtou a French MEP, whose husband is CEO of Vivendi, a company with substantial copyright investments.
These are really powerful legal instruments. Normally, you have to go through a long legal process in order to actually raid someone's house or freeze their bank account. Initially, the forces behind this directive wanted to introduce criminal sanctions for non-commercial infringements, basically as a weapon against P2P users. But, they changed their strategy both because of the widespread opposition and the threat of invalidation deriving from technical aspects of the European legislative process. If you are introducing criminal punishments, then it's not just creating a "Single European Market", and this requires a different legal basis. Thus, the sanctions remain civil and administrative for the moment, but the International Federation for the Phonogram Industry, the Motion Picture Association and the publishers associations have proposed amendments reintroducing criminal sanctions.
Q: It seems that enforcement of these kinds of laws and directives is becoming very fast and pushy. What is the hurry?
AT: Because of the 1st of May and the ten enlargement states that will then become members of the European Union! The Copyright industry claims that some Eastern European countries have an economic interest in copyright infringement - there is a fairly significant unauthorised CD and DVD production in Bulgaria and Poland - and they do not have the will to enforce IP laws that will be damaging to them economically. They are rushing the directive through, so that it will be finished by the accession time. Eastern European states will simply be presented with a fait accompli and have no opportunity to participate in its design or drafting. The directive covers the enforcement within the EU, whereas a new regulation, which will be operative from the 1st of July, will reproduce the regime at the borders of the expanded EU and give customs authorities greater powers to seize goods and basically act on their own initiative.
Q: It seems that all those laws and their enforcement are happening because of a far more complex reason - unification of monopolies, control and interests. Individual creators are left out, although they are often used as an excuse, and it is them on whose account those regulations are enforced.
AT: Well, I think that the basic answer is that the individual "creators" or cultural producers aren't actually really assisted by this at all. Because, you only get enforcement if you actually have an organization that is capable of doing monitoring, to see if your "rights" are being infringed. And the only "people" are the major media organizations, who employ external companies to actually investigate this kind of thing. Now, they are employing special technological consultancies, or, for example, trace some people's IP numbers, so they can identify the location where the infringement is taking place. But, individual [creators] don't have any resources of this kind. If you are a cultural producer, do you really want to give up three or four months out of your year, to be fighting a court case, which at the end of the day is probably going to get you very little money? Particularly if you are going after an individual, you really don't benefit at all. I think that the cultural producers have always been used as a sort of, what we call "a stalking horse", as an alibi. There's a rhetoric which says: "It's about cultural creators", but in fact, it's not. If you look at the contractual arrangements which the media industry makes for cultural workers, you'll see that it's all about alienating them from the work. It's all about taking their rights, and not respecting them in any way.
Q: In this situation, some solution could be found. What is the aim, influence and importance of the initiative like "Creative Commons"? What do these kinds of initiatives mean for the future of the cultural exchange at large, in context of controlling and closing up the ways of this exchange?
AT:"Creative Commons" was conceived as a legal instrument, to allow cultural producers step outside a copyright system in permanent inflation. To achieve this, it offers an easy way to assemble a legal license corresponding to the level of control over the work that one wishes to retain, and the rights one is willing to grant without the need for individual permission. The approach is inspired by that of the free software movement that has built a non-proprietary alternative to monopoly using the "General Public License". The system functions using a software engine which generates the license based on responses to simple questions designed to reveal the producer's intentions.
There are two distinct patterns in the use of the license. The first guarantees access which enables watching, reading or listening to the work and making derivative works for non-commercial purposes. In reality, the non-commercial requirement limits the possibility of re-use to a very limited number of cases. Appropriation for any purpose not okayed in the license must be negotiated with the copyright holder in the standard way. The second approach, based on the 'sharealike' condition, says "I'll share if you do" and allows re-use in any context so long as the later work is made available in turn for others to use freely. One is oriented towards consumers, the other towards producers.
Millions of people are using these licenses and "Creative Commons" has undoubtedly been a success quantitatively. I'm concerned however that the divergent consequences of the different licenses (and there are now more than a dozen with more on the way) will make it difficult for the license to function itself as a medium. The GPL is built around a simple idea (you can run, study, modify and distribute my code as long as you allow the same) which made it possible to think of another way to organise the production collaboratively, and provided a legal instrument to guarantee a foundation of raw materials. The Free Software movement has demonstrated that the value of a license is not measured merely by whether a court has found it to be valid (although I think we can be confident that it will resist challenge and the current SCO case against Linux may determine this), but also by its ability to form the basis for a community with clear ethical rules which will enable sharing and cooperation. "Creative Commons" offers too many restrictive licences to be possible to describe it with such clarity.
I think that the construction of a new commons is imperative. The character of digital information makes it more feasible than ever, because different people can use it at the same time without getting in one another's way, and the cost of reproduction is almost zero. But, a real "commons" needs to be free of all by eliminating the possibility of control and arbitrary exclusion. Copyright, as a package of exclusive property is about control and the right to refuse proposed uses even from those who are willing to pay. For example, if you ask to use a section of a film or a piece of music, copyright holders are under no obligation to accept your offer. Often, particularly with major branded media products, they are not interested at all. It's all about monopoly, control and a very deep type of commodification. If you think about a company like "Disney", it's really about the fact that they own our childhood memories. Every generation of children gets brought to see "Disney" films. "Disney" is in the children business as much as it's in the media business! They don't want the Little Mermaid or Mickey Mouse telling people that gay sex is normal and healthy or that the accumulation of profit at the expense of our lives and environment must be fought! But these are family products so, the stories these characters can narrate must be limited to their idea of the respectable and the harmless!
A lot of people realize now that copyright issues are not just for a small band of specialists but, it's something that really affects everybody. And, technological change means that people don't have to be just passive consumers of cultural products anymore, that they actually have the means of production so as to create new things. They are the "prod-user" class. In that sense, "Creative Commons" contains the germ of an idea whose time has come: we need simple instruments that allow us to share knowledge and whose outcome will ensure assuaging the fear of being ripped off.
From a legal point of view, a decade of litigation against "Microsoft" has accomplished almost nothing. The real opposition to monopoly is coming from Free Software. There is another lesson in this. The endless stream of new laws reinforcing copyright will not succeed in maintaining the current structure of corporate dominated cultural production and distribution. Millions of people are sharing copyrighted media despite being branded as pirates and criminals. People don't care, because they really like taking and giving without money and there is a growing sense of the power of our cooperative potential, which online communities make immediately visible. The media industry and their allies in politics would like to install a police state so as to keep their business models alive but eventually, it will become clear that the divergence between the law and people's own ethical norms is too great, and that this control-fixation is simply holding back technological possibilities which are more valuable than the copyright industry. As we say in Rome: "You can cut down all the flowers, but you cannot stop the coming of spring."
Then it's goodnight to the music and movie industry, at least in their current form.
Alan Toner studied law in Trinity College Dublin and New York University, where he is now a Fellow in the Information Law Institute, with a special interest in the countervailing impact of peer processes and information enclosure on cultural production and social life. He is a member of the Autonomedia editorial collective, and joint administrator of the discussion site autonomedia.org and sometime translator of critical texts from Italian and French. http://slash.autonomedia.org
Project about illegal border crossings of European borders,
complemented with video documentation of actions that took place in April
2004. Authors of the project: Stevan Vukovic i Miki Pjescic; Production: SKC
Canadian architect and media researcher Stephen Kovats spent a decade upon German unification designing and establishing media art and culture related programs at the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation. His Studio Electronic Media Interpretation studio hosted numerous international projects, symposia and exhibitions exploring the relationships between media space, political culture and electronic art. In 2000 he published MEDIA · REVOLUTION which wrapped up the "Ostranenie International Electronic Media Forum" series focussing on the role played by media art and culture upon the societal transformation process in Central and Eastern Europe. During this period he founded several media culture oriented exchange and network programs including ArCHI-ToNOMY, EMARE, ECX and the current Bauhauskolleg, a multidisciplinary post graduate program for alternative urban design. Thereafter, based in New York, he developed work and communications based strategies for mobile media and urban reconstruction projects including the initiation of a new urban Masterplan for the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. Currently Kovats is programs developer at V2_Institute for the Unstable Media in Rotterdam.
Nat Muller is a free-lance writer, curator, critic, organiser and delight-maker. She holds a BA from Tel-Aviv University (Israel) in English Literature, an MA in Queer and Gender Theory from Sussex
University (UK), and has recently completed a two-year research term at the Theory Department of the Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht. She has worked as a sex educator, bookshopkeeper, free-lance journalist and as project manager and curator at V2_Organisation , Institute for Unstable Media in Rotterdam, and Axis, Bureau for Gender and the Arts in Amsterdam. Nat has published articles in off- and online media, and has given presentations on the subject of media technology and art (inter)nationally. She is a member of FoAM, an art and media collective in Brussels. Her main interests include: human computer interaction; food and social communication; the intersections of aesthetics, technology and politics; (new) media and art in Eastern Europe and the
On the occasion of the Trans_European Picnic that was held in Novi Sad, April 29-May 1, kuda.org - Center for New Media published, a miscellany of works on the subjects of arts and media in accession.
Reader, Trans_European Picnic: The Art and Media of Accession
Published by Futura publikacije and kuda.org, Center for New Media Novi Sad, Serbia and Montenegro
Editorial team: kuda.org, Nat Muller (NL), Stephen Kovats (V2_Institute, NL)
Price: 15 EUR (not including shipment coast) 127 pages
On May 1, 2004 the European Union expanded beyond its current "core Europe" constellation to include, for the first time, nations of the former Eastern and Non-Aligned Blocks. For these ten nations the 'day of accession' is the opportunity to rejoin a European sphere, which, for many, was felt to have been robbed through the militarily enforced alliances of the Cold War. By recalling the pan-European Picnic of 1989 along the Austrian-Hungarian border, which induced the events leading to the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the Trans-European Picnic marked the resultant shift in Europe's geopolitical structure. For many however, the "opening" brought about by the events of 1989 are now to be met by "managed closure", restricted mobility, the revival of 'visa regimes' delineating new barriers and borders as well as the imposition of new top-down regulations, bureaucracies and standards. With introduction texts by the editors, kuda.org, Stephen Kovats and Nat Muller, the reader presents articles on the geopolitical context of European Union enlargement, art and media in transition, as well as information on the events, people and performances included in the program of the Picnic.
Among others, reader presents articles and essays by Ivana Momcilovic, Antonio Negri, Katherine Carl, Srdjan Jovanovic Vajs, Edit Andras, Nina Czegledy, Bojana Petric, Luchezar Bojadjiev, Basak Senova, Florian Schneider, interviews with Brian Holmes, Alan Toner, and other authors.
Reader "Trans_European Picnic: The Art and Media of Accession" is the first publication from "kuda.read" series that is initiated by kuda.org - Center for New Media and Futura publikacije, Novi Sad (SCG). Kuda.read will focus on examining critical approaches towards new media culture, technologies, new cultural relations, contemporary artistic practice and the social realm.
For the complete table of contents, and the text of the introduction, see below. The complete text of Reader "Trans_European Picnic: The Art and Media of Accession", is available for free browsing and download as PDF files at
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