BL(K)N RES(T) was the second occasion during which the partnership came into one place, some of us for the entire month. ZK/U – Zentrum fur Kunst und Urbanistik, as a hosting SCUB partner, offered us an intense programme facilitating peer-to-peer capacity building among us. Combining inputs from various experts through research visits/excursions, focused feedback and reflection meetings/tandems the process allowed for collective forms of knowledge production. Mutual learnings, collective inquiries, complementary knowledge, collective intelligence are ingrained in the work spirit and practice of ZK/U, at this point plenty active for 10 years in what here in Berlin are being more and more among those defined as Urban Practitioners.
Along the 4 weeks programme all SCUBBERS could meet and mingle with the local staff and residents coming from all over the world. ZKU has a very specific character determined by its location and a very hybrid and multifunctional use of the space ensured by permanent infrastructures, continuous programming, local and global cultural affiliations. ZK/U is a universe of its own, a model of cultural venue, that brings together local and global practices in a dialogue that sees a community center active for the neighborhood, alongside 13 studio apartments for world artists, communal spaces, semi public spaces for neighborhood and a variety of funky and interesting habitable structures that see different forms of use coming together, from within and outside of its space. In overall the whole conceptions of the space is carefully designed and developed along various spaces of negotiation: a communal kitchen for all the residents, a small hut self-built in the outside terrace area for the youngsters of the neighborhood, an accordion folding open building for other local crews and even a community garden. In general all threshold in between the inside and the outside of the building are an occasion to responsibilize both the permanent and temporary community of the place. It is not a case that ZKU is involved and mapped as a Campus for education within the independent cultural scene of Berlin, as it promotes informal pedagogies and support projects in which community and space become occasion and instrument for constant learning and to envision new ecologies to come.
Within this framework the SCUBBERS had the occasion to get to know different cultural cooperation formats such as Cetka, Forum Regionum, International Festival for Illustrated Literature with Barbara Bernsmeier. All projects dealing with Civil Engagement in Eastern partnerships through means of cultural practices advocating for social claims in highly repressive societies. In a dialogue with all SCUBBERS, Barbara Bernmeier facilitated a discussion about the core interests and understandings of the project of all participants.
Whereas in other moments the SCUBBERS, worked on the specific context of the ‘Western Balkans’, imaging new socio-spatial geographies of the region with the Berlin Collective Orangotango, a collective combining education, research, activism and art, that led a workshop about Critical Cartography equipping the SCUBBERS with the tools for mapping Urban, Environmental, Women and Lgbtqi+ led protests, movements and territorial transformations throughout the ‘Balkan’ region.
‘Western BLKN WTF?’: towards new socio-spatial geographies in the Balkans (practical session / maps production) (Some Call Us Balkans – CC BY-SA 4.0)
The residency was also an occasion to disseminate and talk about SCUB and the partnership’s members and work. Vesna Malesevic on a Monday evening dinner could present the work and history of UNSA Geto (Banja Luka, BiH), in front of an audience of African Curators and and local staff, as well as Hana Milenkovska and Klementina Ristovska for Sociopatch (Skopje, North Macedonia) who presented the Participatory Based Artistic Research methodology of SCUB and the outputs of their artistic research led on the ground, Terms of Encounter (Link from research webpage to be Embedded), eventually Miranda Mehemeti who presented the community cultural center Termokiss in Prishtina, Kosovo, where the final exhibition of the project UNITED BLKN (March 2023) will take place. Enrico Tomassini, curator for the leading organization Icse & Co. shared the ethos and origins of the project.
BL(K)N Rest took the SCUBBERS to visit also many local cultural and urban initiatives such as Floating University, Haus der Statistik, UFA Fabrik, The Lobby for urbanepraxis.berlin | or the exhibition ‘Overlap’: young Iranian female photographers at erstererster gallery from RAF Projects, with Curator Alireza Labeshka or Visiting Dragoner Areal & Baupalast with Alex Römer from ConstructLab at Dragoner Area in Xberg. A journey across the lively cultural scene and work of Berliner cultural scene and best artistic social practices. All these inspirations and inputs widened up and expanded the reflections of the participants in the co-creation and imagining of the following up phases of the Project, while supporting the bridging the initial phase of applied research and the future steps: Open Call for Artist-travelers, Artistic Residency Assembling BL(KN) in Banja Luka and BLKN Mobile Forum – The Ground tour Journey across all partners locations.
Dragoner Area, Overlap, erstererster gallery, Floating University, THF Radio, Haus der Statistik, UFAK Fabrik, photos by Milly Reid (Some Call Us Balkans)
Last but not least the residency concluded with a first small SCUB exhibition as part of the monthly Open Haus held by ZKU. In a living and interactive format, SCUB shared some of the outcomes of the conducted Practice Based Artistic Research “Myths and Misconceptions” by inviting the audience to bring about new nuances, impressions and understandings while pondering and acquiring new words to reflect on how and why we speak of the “Balkans”.
Small exhibition was co-curated by Milly Reid, Enrico Tomassini and Miodrag Kuc.