Artist -Travelers Residency MAY 2022 - 1 Month residency in Banja Luka (BIH) hosted by DKC Incel - Unsa GETO
SCUB - DKC Incel
Austrian Cultural Forum Sarajevo
Helsinki Citizen Assembly - Helsinški parlament građana
BASOC Social Center - Banjalučki socijalni centar BASOC
Curator // Enrico Tomassini
Local Producer and Coordinators // Vesna Malesevic and Lidija Drakulic
Travel Logistics // Olivera Karpić
Coordination and Support // Viola Gaba
with Artist- Travellers
Assembling BL(KN) hosted by DKC Incel in Banja Luka 02.05 – 29.05. 2022, it was the first time the whole project landed in one ‘Balkan’ site and cooperated in the construction of a month-long programme for a collective of 8 selected artist-travelers. The programme had as a key objective to create a collective of Artist-Travelers and was choreographed as a process of co-creation, through moments of collective and individual reflection, production of knowledge, and sharing of collective caring practices. Within the overarching frame of reclaiming the term ‘Balkan’, and its multiple meanings, while contesting social structures that produce divides between people and other people, people and their environment. The Artists were led to imagine their role as travelers. The residency aimed at assembling BL – Banja Luka and BLKN – Balkan and their social relationships through moments of exploration, encounter and exchange. The residency skeleton was based in 4 Modules / Weeks and foresaw the collective of artist-travelers to be accompanied by a set of international and local experts, and communities through workshops, site-visits, team-building activities, public events in the co-creation of individual and collective artistic research practices. The individual and collective practices were imagined and developed in the vision of laying and testing the foundation for the follow- up activity of what we have called a Traveling Imagination.
Setting the Ground / GROUNDING THE VISION / Creating the groupMay 2, 2022
Getting to Know the Context / ELABORATING THE VISION / DramaturgyMay 9, 2022
BRINGING THE VISION INTO REALITY / Materialization of IdeasMay 16, 2022
Rehearsing / PROTOTYPING / Final EventMay 23, 2022
Special guests: Dragana Dardić for Helsinški Parlament Gradjana Banja Luka, The Ground Tour Project
During the first week, the participants started getting acquainted with local cultural venue facilities, the project, and the city. The hosting partner UNSA Geto warmly welcomed all Artists in the Big House organized for them, called Zamak, a castle literally in the local language, that apparently had quite a spooky foundational history linked to a nationalist politician and his delegation for whom the castle was built. In these premises, artists started to get to know each other by offering and sharing different practices and knowledge. During the first days everyone could visit the Archive of Republika Srpska and get to know more about local histories and the ways in which history is being told and remembered in this part of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia and Herzegovina after the Dayton Agreement (‘95) was splitted into two parts Rpk Srpska in large majority ethnically Serb and the Federation, more ethnically mixed. The first activity proposed by artist Ale Riletti was the preparation of a Symposium, in the time of an afternoon people could make offers as moments of preparation for it. People cooked together and shared moments of intimacy, with the idea of building, first of all, a sense of commonality and collective care, triggering the possibility of sharing memories among all participants and invited guests through the act of cooking and sharing. In her initial idea people could “cook, design a soundscape, prepare topics of discussion, record interviews and images in the preparation of a Symposium”. The Symposium was repeated in other forms over the weeks in one occasion the Artist shared a body “relaxation that works on the psoas, which retains muscular memory (especially of traumas)” and a reading called “Hydrofeminism: Or, On Becoming a Body of Water” by Astrida Neimanis.
Artist Mary Marinopolou offered a workshop titled Absorb Ensemble, in which she shared methods of exploring the urban contexts through the legacy of Dada, Situationism, and psychogeography. The approach included the body sensorial exploration of space with the support of artist and performer Lea Blau.
Within the key ethos of the residency to assemble local civil societies, NGOs and communities the first week saw the involvement of local actors and organizations, Helsinški Parlament Gradjana Banja Luka (hcabl.org) that gave a feminist tour of the city as well as of Radio Baszok and Social Center who covered the podcasting of the public events.
Enrico Tomassini, the curator of the residency, shared The Ground Tour Project traveling vision elaborated in the open-scripts Some Call them Balkans in the form of an interactive and co-created space for collective and active reimagining and discussion about what this land is or could be. The session involved drawing, writing, reading aloud and listening to one another as ways to reimagine the common myths of this place that some call “Balkans”. It took place in DKC Incel, the cultural venue run by the local partner, that is one of the few intact buildings within a very large industrial complex active till the end of the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia: today filled with toxic waste and some remains of human activities populating the site, while trucks run up down the road crossing the site. The session was recorded as a podcast, and gave birth to a lively discussion on the question of identity and belonging in the region and beyond.
On the Friday of the Week Artist Sezer Salihi presented his research paper and work “Quality of Image” in which he analyzed the role of cinema in creating social spaces for discussion and revolution and showed the renowned Black Yugo Wave movie Mysteries of Organisms by Dušan Makavejev connecting it to Latino American Third wave cinema manifesto. The paper analyzing Quality of Life by Eurostat indicators is the trigger for the artist to explore the gaze and quality of image of different social groups and people by the end of the residency and in the vision of our future journey.
Special guests: Senior Artist Lisl Ponger (Supported by Austrian Cultural Forum), Researcher Adna Camdzic (Partner Organization ICSE&Co.), Local Historian and Artist Davor Papjona (Partner Organization Unsa Geto), Researcher and Curators Elli Leventaki; Mariana Ziku and Marianna Stefanitsi (Partner Organization BoWB – Biennale of Western Balkans), Social Scientist and Academic Danijela Majstorović (Partner Organization Unsa Geto), Andrija Stojanovic (Partner Organization Tacka Komunikatzije)
Assembling BL(KN) was fortunate to have Lisl Ponger (https://www.lislponger.com) as a guest artist. Together with all artist-travellers she ran a workshop with a title borrowed from the eponymous photograph, There Be Dragons wherein two men, Columbus and an EU official in a Frontex uniform look towards the horizon. One is scanning the border to prevent foreign persons from entering, while the other looks out towards prospective lands and discoveries. The tension here is based on associative processes and critically reflects on the contemporary conditions of the travel within a colonial historical frame.
A traveler herself, she learned much of what she knows through the act of movement, of finding oneself in unknown and strange circumstances that always require a reconsidered gaze and new understandings to develop a new horizon. Learning to get lost in one’s own context (or even in a context you know only slightly) was the exercise Lisl proposed to the artist-travelers to do. Were they able to get lost?
Interviewee: Lisl Ponger · Interviewer: Enrico Tomassini · Filmed by: Nikola Moraca · Edit by: Drazen Livazovic
The second week of the residency was a lot about the group that started associating ideas, expressing desires and mapping them about with felt markers on rolls of papers with Lisl Ponger but not only. In fact, we had a very intense and rich programme during it. SCUB Greek partner BOWB – Biennale of Western Balkans proposed a hybrid workshop Training the gaze: community, feminist and decolonial practices with curator and researchers Elli Leventaki; Mariana Ziku and Marianna Stefanitsi during which art public interventions were tackled from diverse angles. Elli took us on a virtual tour of Athens observing public space and artistic interventions in it, in relation to dominant narratives, contemporary viewpoints and social phenomena.
Whereas researcher Adna Camdzic, in collaboration with artist Diona Kusari and local fellow artist and historian Davor Paponja, took us on a two sessions workshop. A first part entitled Collective fabulation and production of future-oriented imaginaries led us, through moments of performative reading and feminist pedagogic practices, to question the role of art and artists in affecting social change while going through the challenges of collective work.
Adna shared her experience in the project “(In)visible Assembly (Assemblea (in)visible), a two-day event developed within the context of the project VERSO (funded by the Contemporary Art Foundation Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Turin).
In the words of Adna, Invisible Assembly was “conceived as a physical and virtual space aimed at rejecting scientific objectivity in order to place multiple invisible and subordinate subjectivities at the center of knowledge production”. A space to practice radical imagination as an effective tool of collective political and social action that goes through the production of possible futures.
What if instead of asking ourselves how we can live (according to what is already given to us), we start wondering how we want to live? And transform our inner wishes and desires into tools and actions for change? How do we want to live in the Balkans? Guided by artist Diona Kusari, such questions became the starting point to investigate together the pillars of our radically imagined new world.
Pictures by Sezer Salihi (Some Call Us Balkans – CC BY-SA 4.0)
How can we produce future-oriented imaginaries starting from our present (where our bodies are situated), without ignoring the answers we owe to the past?
This is the question we tried to answer while walking among the deathscape of Banja Luka. Guided by Davor Paponja we revisited the complex histories of artifacts, graveyards, tombstones and cemeteries that occupy the public space of the city: material traces that cannot go unnoticed.
Named Carved in Stone, Etched in Memory, based on a book by the researcher Amila Buturović, the workshop reflected upon conflicting memories and histories buried in space and time, acting as markers of the past and triggers for the future.
What kind of stories are the dead telling us and how are such stories mediated, transformed and constantly rebuilt and reshaped by the living. How do such stories affect us in our present and what can they tell us about our futures? Again, questions act as starting points that trigger imagination, creating new possible and desirable scenarios. The ways we make them real and tangible is up to each and one of us.
Pictures by Sezer Salihi (Some Call Us Balkans – CC BY-SA 4.0)
The walk ended at Basoc Social center where we met with local renown academic Danijela Majstorović presented her recently published book “Discourse and Affect in Post-Socialist Bosnia and Herzegovina: Peripheral Selves”. The book Proposes a decolonial approach to understanding the context of post-socialist and postwar Eastern Europe. An interesting debate that led us to discuss contemporary history, recent civil society movements, parallelism among different Balkan countries and differences through history till today, forms of inclusion and exclusion in the context of Yugoslavia and migrational necropolitics. The week ended with a public presentation of two short film of Lisl Ponger at DKC Incel space, where she presented two of her short movies along with most of SCUB artists who presented their previous film works.
Special guests: Co-curator Hana Milenkovska (Partner organization Sociopatch), Artist and Researcher Miodrag Kuc, Creative Budgeter Dennis Lindenau, Creative Communicator Elisa Georgi ( Partner ZKU – Zentrum fur Kunst und Urbanistik)
In the third week the artists started to think of various aspects connected to the production of their ideas in a more concise way and the monday morning saw a lively discussion around each one’s ideas. At the same time our last guests arrived, Elisa Georgi, Miodrag Kuc and Dennis Lindenau for ZK/U – Zentrum fur kunst und Urbanistik landed in town. Elisa proposed to us a workshop about the Communication and Storytelling of a Road Trip starting from the questions: How do we communicate and archive collective traveling practices beyond FB/Insta dichotomy? Can diary and blog-like thinking be revamped in the 21st century? The workshop searched for the tools and methods of collective narrative creation, with an aim to question documentation as a linear set of information. Beyond classical archiving, we were looking for a performative character of documenting, unusual techniques and new media approaches.
Filmed by: Nikola Moraca and Dalibor Danilovic, Edit by: Drazen Livazovic, Visuals: Saša Đorđević
While Miodrag Kuc led a workshop entitled Artistic practices in the contested social realm, starting introducing some artistic urban interventions he led on the behalf of ZKU in the Balkan area, he introduced us to the action “Atomic Hangout”, to be performed in a contested urban space in the typical housing block of Banja Luka. The specific case of Gradja, a community run playground, that was started off as a protest in response to the will of creating a parking lot on the behalf of the municipality and local private developers. The protest was enacted by a group of kids who (physically) defended it from becoming a place for cars, which could eventually lead to further (building) speculations. What was protected was the roof of a previously collective atomic shelter, a common infrastructure to be found in Ex Yugoslavian countries, that often was built in connection to new housing settlements in ‘70/’80. Today Gradja hosts a lively self-organized community of neighbors engaged in the programming and use of this contested space. Gradja can be asserted as a good example for grass roots DIY- planning, as Miodrag suggests “in a peripheral context to Western democracy, where a weak political system meets investors-urbanism and corruption, civic engagement and spatial claims appear rather as deviant behavior”.
The workshop aimed to bridge the needs and desires of the local neighborhood with the SCUB traveling community, in order to reach productive exchange and benefit from the diversity of perspectives. Finally, concrete micro-location, with its own history of contestation, becomes a field of experimentation and encounter, with the goal to practice a culture of disagreement, spatial appropriation, and grassroots urban politics.
The workshop resulted in the “Atomic Hangout” event with the participation of the local community, where the neighborhood was actively engaged and collectively reclaimed its public space through a series of activities that were a testing ground for a collective artistic format for social intervention. Action served as a triggering point for the summer program Gradja community is trying to develop, underlining continuation of actions as an alternative to static plans of the Municipality.
By creating a sort of ‘mobile park’, neighbors and SCUB participants had a chance to test, negotiate and spatially rethink what wishful park could be. As a first step of inclusive planning, 10 trees have been left at the location, creating a maintenance plan (watering, pruning, fertilizing) for locals and basic infrastructure for spatial negotiations (leisure areas, sport areas, ‘creative’ polygons, etc.). One of the outputs was a live zine made with the contribution of all the kids of the park, designed by artist Jelly Luise, with the support of artists Lori Lako and Jelena Gajnovic, and the photo scanning curator Enrico Tomassini. The zine was donated to the neighbors, who saw into it a spark for a crowdfunding process.
Participatory Mapping Practice by Nikola Moraca (Some Call Us Balkans – CC BY-SA 4.0)
The week was also dedicated to the finalization of the works and ideas of the artist-travelers that started concretizing their ideas into more specific production needs. The passage from an idea to its production, in a short time it might be tough. Coming up with an artistic output when your ideas are still coming together and you feel the pressure to produce something by the end doesn’t meet the need for the protected space for creative processes to arise, nonetheless, the ideas and production needs started coming together, even though the context of work was complicated. During the Atomic Hangout we had episodes of verbal and vis a vis violence of passersby in relation to our presence, but cases of feeling unsafe came about in many circumstances so much that one of the artists, Mary Marinopolou, developed a stickers work to be spreaded and attached whenever, in the city, one felt observe and gave a bad gaze, reciting “ljubav Mrznja / Love Hate” in red and black.
Special Guests: Theater Maker Klaudia Pirolli (Partner organizaition TULLA Cultural Center), Ljubica Slavković (Partner Organization Tacka Komunicatzije)
The last week of pure production, preceding the final event BLKN Mobile. Melting Imagination was characterized by many challenges. Over a short period of time 9 shorts movies were shot and 4 dismissed, 3 audio works were recorded and mastered, two urban performative interventions took place, 1 did not as well as 2 public space interventions.
The short movies are both staged, as in the case of artist traveler Lori Lako with her interactive video installation work “Might the best of your days be the worst of your tomorrows”, or unstaged, if not in the artistic process, as the participatory video work, research and multi channel video installation of Sezer Salihi, investigating the “Quality of Image” of different subjects for census, social strata, age and lively condition, based on Eurostat Indicators on Quality of Life. Just to give two examples, not to quote the work of Jelly (Jelena) Luise, or all the other works which are better explained below. BLKN Mobile – Melting Imagination, curated by Enrico Tomassini, that took place on Saturday 28th of May, started from the city center of Banja Luka reaching out the industrial complex of Incel in the East part of town.
The 8 Artist-travelers choreograph their audio-visual, performative and narrative interventions, practices and installations as part of an in becoming traveling research format and imagination. While announcing the upcoming journey across the 6 Urban Sites of the “Balkan” peninsula, the 8 artist-travelers presented some of their tools, works, researches and intents in their fragmentary yet joint hybrid character. The exhibition melted together camp aesthetics, collective cathartic rituals, theatrical urban audio exploration, public space performances, ‘Balkan’ lullabies chants, public art installation under the guise of women condition in “Balkans”, participatory film practices, urban intervention and imaginative provocations. By breaching stereotypical imagination of contemporary notion and misconceptions of “Balkans”, the exhibition wished to be a journey across the role of art in shaping reality and our understanding of the world. It was a testing ground that suggested to us on what aspect to focus to optimize and improve the work for the next phase of the project.
Artwork: The Great B
Info: Audio Walk 38'
Artist: Mary Marinopoulou
Voice actors: Lea Blau, Jelena Jandrić, Bojan Kolopić, Cedomir Protic, Sanjin Vidovic
Sound edit and mastering: Dragan Bosnjak
An exploration of common traits and common talks on Balkan identity.
The Great “B” is an audio walk along the most notable points in any Balkan city: the mosque, the river bridge, the outdoor market and the orthodox church. One can experience it in every Balkan city, without restrictions on how to walk along these points. The “B” can be reversed, distorted, or placed up-side-down, it can take longer or shorter to walk, or simply be experienced as a soundscape.
Artwork: The Quality of Image
Info: 3 Screens installation
Artist: Sezer Salihi
Films created by: Lea Blau, Drazen Crnomat, The Kids of Gradja
Artwork: Balkan Lullaby Songs
Info: Audio piece, Lullabies Booklet (52 pages)
Artist: Sezer Salihi
Sound edit and mastering: Dejan Saviç
An aesthetic visual research on the Quality of Life of Balkans.
Inspired by Eurostat indicators for Quality of Life Sezer Salihi explores visually the subjective view of the world of different social actors that bring their gaze of the world through the lenses of the camera. Inspired by the third cinema manifesto he gives space to the view of the world of ordinary humans, with the intent to explore the quality of image in the environment they are living and creates a small planet of overlapping views that restitute a sense of a unique piece of a diversity of gazes.
Balkan Lullaby Songs is a research project aiming to collect the songs that we all hear first through the voices of our mothers and grandmothers, a time in which we do not know anything about language, nationality and war. Lullabies Song is an intimate exploration of our primordial orgins as human beings that envisions a New Balkan to be without stereotypes, discrimination and hatred among the people. The Goblen mirror is experienced as a confrontational tool that allows you to connect with your inner world and to disconnect from the cruelty of the real world we live in.
Artwork: ipak je naše naše
Info: 4 Video-channel installation
Artist: Jelena Luise
A visual research on Balkan camp aesthetic.
ipak je naše naše is an ongoing exploration of the Balkanic camp aesthetic. Here the Sontagesque notion that camp embodies a love for the unnatural, of artifice and exaggeration is projected in a sociopolitical context where camp is no longer not political, but instead becomes a modus operandi for fantasy and opulence but also of survival.
Artwork: dom je tamo
Info: 4 red fabric banners,
Artist: Jelena Gajinović
Red fabric with open text, visually and contextually examines the notion of Home as a place of territorial, physical and spiritual sense of belonging.
Visual presentation of quoted words, creates space for personal interpretation and creation of new order from fragmented text. Original quote and credits: “Dom je tamo gdje je ljubav, gdje je praštanje, gdje je zajednica, gdje možemo biti ono što jesmo” // “Home is where love is, where there is forgiveness, where there is a community, where we can be who we are”.
Artwork: MEN WHO WANT EVERYTHING
Info: Performance Piece
Artist: Lea Blau
A performative action inspired by slavic pagan rituals of excruciation and banishment of evil spirits.
By remembering and reimagining myths in the Balkans, the artist questions how cultural traditions and underrepresented spiritual practices in balkan states exist in the now and become tools of resistance. On the threshold between devotion, fantasy and provocation, the ritual calls for communal sharing and co-creation of a reality beyond borders and prejudices.
Artwork: Fshati digjet, nusja krihet (The Village is Burning, The Bride is Grooming)
Info: ephemeral archive
Artist: Diona Kusari and Ale Rilletti
Sound edit and mastering:Dragan Bosnjak
As a refute to moral policing governing our lives, we decided to be joined in matrimony. Our failed marriage, lathered by the ever-present ethnic and gender-based discrimination, was fused by the various agents that gave emergence to its becoming and consequently, stopped it in its tracks.
The work is an ephemeral archive; it gathers relics of a marriage that never happened. This act of radical love, desired to embody disobedience to a state of patriarchal hellsome and hatred of the outliers. What’s the meaning of marriage today? How can we hack institutions from the inside? Its delicate traces are sacred as witnessing a fragile possibility of escaping the constraints of biopolitical devices. Namely, they echo physical and moral threats, which dismantled our concrete hope of transformation. Through this altar we call everybody to participate in this memory of a failure, coded in the red and blue binarism.
Artwork: May the best of your yesterdays be the worst of your tomorrows
Info: Video Installation
Artist: Lori Lako
Assistant Director: Sezer Salihi
Acting coach: Hana Milenkovska
Men drinking rakia. They don’t look particularly concerned about the site, no more than with the continuous raising of their glasses. The three men are sitting in a post-industrial landscape that recalls the end of the socialist era in its ruinous state. Staging the most common visual representation of social gatherings in the public spaces of the Balkans, the men go on toast after toast, until they leave the seats. Two of the glasses are broken. Some blood stains can be seen on the table cloth. Something must have happened