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BLKN Mobile Forum

Cross-Balkan journey, Sarajevo, Belgrade, Skopje, Pristina, Tirana, Ioannina, 2022

A mobile assembly space that travels across Balkan cities, enabling cross-border dialogue, connecting local cultural practitioners, communities of practice and artists.
Some Call Us Balkans, BLKN Mobile Forum, Sarajevo, 2022, photograph by Tamara de la Fuente, CC BY-SA 4.0
For one month, through six countries, a van full of artists and a team from across a wide international network all came together to encounter the Balkans through art, commons, history, activism and patience.
The SCUB artists Jelena (Jelly) Luise, Ale Riletti, Lea Blau, Lori Lako, Jelena Gajinović, Diona Kusari, Mary Marinopoulou and Sezer Salihi embarked on a journey in a discursive program curated by Kumjana Novakova. You can read and see what we felt and took away from time spent in Sarajevo, Belgrade, Skopje, Pristina, Tirana – for a program curated by Bora Baboci – and Ioannina for a program curated by Elli Leventaki, Katerina Zachou and Mariana Ziku, with photographs by Tamara de la Fuente and words by Farah Hasanbegović. Our tireless travelling support team were Chiara Dona, Viola Gaba and Jovana Jankov. Our stunning new visual identity was produced by Eva Simona from Manifattura Tabacchifi

1st stop: Sarajevo [Bosnia and Herzegovina]

Some Call Us Balkans, BLKN Mobile Forum, Sarajevo, 2022, photograph by Tamara de la Fuente, CC BY-SA 4.0
In Sarajevo we met with artists, activists and curators and opened questions about the way art can deal with different forms of disorder – geopolitical, ideological, communal, internal. We spent time with Tanja Vrvilo, Christophe Postic, Aida Kalender, Srđan Vuletić, Ines Tanović, Nedim Alikadić, Andreja Dugandžić, Smirna Kulenović, Elma Hodžić and Nidžara Ahmetašević.

Sarajevo [Bosnia and Herzegovina]

2nd stop: Belgrade [Serbia]

Some Call Us Balkans, BLKN Mobile Forum, Belgrade, 2022, photograph by Tamara de la Fuente, CC BY-SA 4.0
In Belgrade our conversations and encounters centred around the ways we can use art and social practices to resist different kinds of violence. We met with artists, activists and and curators who showed us the different ways they resist, help and share common struggles.
We spent time with Dragan Protić and Grupa Škart, Srđan Atanasovski, Sara Sopić, Simona Oganjenović, Ivan Velisavljević, Doplgenger, Iva Čukić and Jelena Maksimović.

3rd stop: Skopje [North Macedonia]

Some Call Us Balkans, BLKN Mobile Forum, Skopje, 2022, photograph by Tamara de la Fuente, CC BY-SA 4.0
Our visit to Skopje made us rethink and rediscover architecture, archiving and imagination in ways only this city could. The artists, activists, researchers and curators we met with all shared their unique practices and understanding of the way meaningfulness can be preserved in physical spaces, in creative practices, in the way we relate to each other. We also started the beginnings of some collaborative creative works that we’re going to be exploring more as we move to Kosovo this week 👀
We spent time with Ivana Dragsic, Hristina Ivanoska, Bojana Janeva, Jana Kocevska, Meri Batakoja and sat in on a lecture by Ian Chambers & Boaventura de Sousa Santos curated by Viki Mladenova.

4th stop: Pristina [Kosovo]

Some Call Us Balkans, BLKN Mobile Forum, Pristina, 2022, photograph by Tamara de la Fuente, CC BY-SA 4.0
Going to Kosovo had us reflecting on being on this journey together and on all the different ways that collectiveness and limitations interact in the region and in the arts. Through the lens of @manifestabiennial, @dokufest and @fondacioni17 we saw the different ways in which the artists, curators and activists we met with deal with limitations that should be isolating, but through their work and collective imagination create new, vibrant spaces and realities.
We spent time with Nita Deda, the team of Dokufest and @lumbardhi, Nita Zequiri and encountered the Manifesta Biennal. The SCUB artists also staged a collective creative action that celebrated the ways we interact and understand our collective as it moves through this journey.

5th stop: Tirana [Albania]

Some Call Us Balkans, BLKN Mobile Forum, Tirana, 2022, photograph by Tamara de la Fuente, CC BY-SA 4.0
During our visit to Tirana we reflected on memory – how it can oppose the official narrative, how it can reveal the layers of a place’s history, culture, political landscape and of environment. We shared encounters with individual and collectives of researchers, scientists and artists who pave the way to a more positive reality through revealing hidden histories, spaces and even informalities and injustices and by working together bring these dimensions of life to light.
We spent time with Bora Baboci, Arba Baxhaku, Valentina Koca and @zeta_contemporary_art_center, Ana Shrkeli and @berkbotime, Taulant Bino, @bazamentartspace and the @aos_alb Albanian Ornithological Society, Radical Sense, the dancers of the Was bleibt kollektiv and Gentian Doda.

6th stop: Ioannina [Greece]

Some Call Us Balkans, BLKN Mobile Forum, Ioannina (Zagori), 2022, photograph by Tamara de la Fuente, CC BY-SA 4.0
The final stop on our month-long journey in Ioannina had us thinking about our relationship with the environment, how to step out of human-centered narratives and how collective practices of care and protection play out in this region. We met with activists, artists and scholars who are engaged in the constant struggle of preserving nature as a common.
We spent time with @jimpap.geo (Dimitris Papageorgiou), @photometria_festival, the Mekeio, local enviromental activists and the Epirus Mushroom Society. This trip concludes the travelling portion of SCUB, but the experience continues as our artists go off to process and create.
Now our artists go their separate ways to process, rest and to begin working on projects inspired by the things they’ve seen, heard, done and by their personal and shared contexts and interests. Our next and final outcome of SCUB is happening in Pristina in spring 2023, the Some Call Us Balkans exhibition.
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