[-empyre-] wounds of war and capitalism
katherine at thenao.net
Fri Jan 18 09:42:45 EST 2008
It's interesting, these last few days I feel like we're taking a
journey back into the expedition itself.
These questions about wounds and healing...when I first started
working with artists in this region more than ten years ago, even at
that point they were all saying we're over it, the war is behind us,
we're moving on. That was true, and yet at the same time, it's still
not over ten years later with the issue of Kosovo's independence.
The lingering effects of war and also the transition to capitalism
plays out very differently in each city. One of the things we wanted
to learn more about during Lost Highway Expedition was the
differentiation amongst the cities and how people in each place saw
themselves/their city in relation to the others on the route. This
turned out to be really exciting.
We started out with some crude but telling “characteristics” of the
cities that we then investigated more when we were on the road
Ljubljana: Autonomous Zones
Novi Sad: Recreation
Sarajevo: Experimental Islands
In fact these issues of primary concern for each city are exactly how
the wounds of war or the wounds of the transition to capitalism are
playing out differently in each place.
For example, all over the Western Balkans there has been a lot of
illegal building in the past decade. Particularly in Sarajevo we
visited Hotel Saraj and Azra Aksamija organized a conversation
between the hotel owner and a city official. These two had met many
times before because the owner built the building illegally on a
coveted spot overlooking the old part of Sarajevo, and some call it a
horrible eyesore. The city official had been working through and
against the labyrinthine bureaucracy to tear the building down. So is
this entrepeneurship at its worst—those with money imposing their
will on the rest? Or is it simply freedom of expression that the old
socialist bureaucracy needs to adapt to accommodate?
Another very exciting aspect about LHE was that some people who live
in one city took the opportunity to travel to another city, in some
cases for the first time since the war, or for the first time ever.
Some of these great crossovers were Belgrade-Prishtina, Ljubljana-
Podgorica, Podgorica-Sarajevo. So this started to create a new kind
of “off road” connection, if we think of its spatial layout.
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