[-empyre-] wounds of war and capitalism

Katherine Carl 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
Zagreb: Solidification
Novi Sad: Recreation
Skopje: Solidarity
Prishtina: Parallelism
Tirana: Extra-Legality
Podgorica: Independence
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. 

This email has been scanned by the MessageLabs Email Security System.
For more information please visit http://www.messagelabs.com/email 

More information about the empyre mailing list