Ognjen Strpic on Wed, 13 Aug 2003 09:00:53 +0200 (CEST)

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[nettime-see] In the Gorges of the Balkans

gorge, n.
	1. a narrow valley between hills or mountains, typically with
steep rocky walls and a stream running through it
	2. arch. the throat

dame i gospodo, još jedan veliki grupnjak u dubokim grlima Balkana. prvo
gledamo jedni druge, a onda se svi skupa pokazujemo njima. srećom, još
nisu shvatili da će ono što traže na Balkanu danas lakše naći u Berlinu,
Parizu i Londonu...
u slast! /OS/

In the Gorges of the Balkans
A Report
August 30 - November 23, 2003

Presented by the Kunsthalle Fridericianum, the exhibition entitled IN
THE GORGES OF THE BALKANS is showcasing one of Europe's rapidly
burgeoning art and culture scenes: Featured are 88 artists from 12
different countries and regions (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina,
Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Kosova, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania,
Serbia, Slovenia, Turkey), which together define the term "The Balkans".
A comprehensive programme of events reflecting the current situation in
the countries of south-eastern Europe also accompanies the exhibition.


The Balkans are always the others

Residing at the interface between the Orient and Occident, Christianity
and Islam, the Balkans have remained an uncharted territory, a blank
space on the map, throughout their centuries-old, turbulent history,
which has witnessed the rise and fall of monarchies, dictatorships,
Communist social systems and democracies. As such, they have become the
ideal canvas on which to project western European preconceived notions
of the region - notions, which can even be found in Karl May's Balkans
novel of the same name.

The definition of the term "The Balkans" is still rather diffuse.
Geographically the Balkan Peninsula extends from the Black Sea to the
Mediterranean and refers in name to the range of mountains in Bulgaria.
However, topographical boundaries do not convey the significance of the
Balkans that is encumbered by assumptions, prejudices and fears, which
have remained etched upon our cultural memories. And these fears are of
a highly topical nature: As multi-ethnic societies, the countries of
south-eastern Europe have in recent years served as the paradigm for
prognoses on the processes of globalisation and in this way fuelled the
notion of the "Clash of the Civilizations". The "Balkans" has long since
become a metaphor. The Balkans, in the words of the Slovenian
philosopher Slavoj Žižek, are always the others.

In contrast to the novelist Karl May, the exhibition's curator René
Block has actually embarked on a journey through the Balkans where he
studied the situation on the ground within the individual countries in
close cooperation with indigenous artists and curators. Consequently,
the exhibition IN THE GORGES OF THE BALKANS perceives itself as a
documentary, as an eyewitness account, which invites the visitor himself
to set out on a journey of discovery through south-eastern Europe. A
journey leading from the origins of Concept Art in Yugoslavia in the
60ies, from works created under the most difficult conditions during the
era of the Communist regimes (Romania, Albania), to the contemporary art
scene. On our travels we also encounter artists who are operating within
the Western (art) context, whilst retaining a strong affinity to their
native countries. The individual works of art always provide a running
commentary on the current socio-political situation. Whereas earlier
generations of artists used their medium, among other things, to expose
the political systems or social evils, contemporary art focuses more
intensely on cultural traditions and on the events of recent history.
The application of new technologies and the emerging issues relating to
the status and relevance of art and of artists demonstrates that the
artists of south-eastern Europe have long since been integrated into the
global discourse on art.

Kassel as the centre of art in south-eastern Europe

Whereas the Museum Fridericianum itself is devoted to the presentation
of objects, paintings, installations, photography and video art, the
exterior space is playing host to actions and performances, together
with exhibition bound / less borders, which has been realized on the
initiative of the Goethe Institute in Belgrade and which, in the form of
large-format posters, introduces further artists from the region. Each
week, the exhibition's comprehensive accompanying programme focuses on a
different South-eastern European country and highlights its cultural
features by means of lectures, film screenings and theme-based guided
tours. Many of these individual strands are bundled together in the form
AND CULTURE IN SOUTH-EASTERN EUROPE, October 24 - 26. (An updated
schedule for the accompanying programme of events can be obtained from:

It is no accident that in recent times various institutions and
exhibition projects have focused their attention on south-eastern
Europe. Of these, "In Search of Balkania" (Graz, 2002) and "Blood and
Honey. The Future is in the Balkans" (Klosterneuburg, Vienna, running
until September 2003) provided some initial interpretations of the
Balkans. Yet the Kunsthalle Fridericianum goes a decisive step further.
Following the launch in Kassel, subsequent projects including
exhibitions, publications, congresses and discussion forums will be
staged by the cooperation partners IN THE CITIES OF THE BALKANS
(Belgrade, Bucharest, Cetinje, Istanbul, Ljubljana, Prishtina, Sarajevo,
Skopje, Sofia, Tirana and Zagreb) before reaching its conclusion BEYOND
THE BALKANS. This will take place in 2004 in the form of the Kassel
Project by the Slovene Marjetica Potrč and a retrospective dedicated to
the Croatian art poet Mangelos (1921 - 1987), whose work has enriched
the canon of European art history with the inclusion of a further
chapter. Consequently, for the period of one year, the Kunsthalle
Fridericianum will become a forum for discussions - internal and
external - dedicated to exploring the term "The Balkans".

Staged for the first time on this scale, this dialogue between just one
town in Germany and the entire region of south-eastern Europe was
facilitated by the generous financial support from the Cultural
Foundation of the German Federal Government.

To coincide with the exhibition a richly illustrated large-format Travel
Guide has been produced (136 pages, 5 EUR / 10 EUR incl. postage). The
book on the exhibition will be published in June 2004 and will contain
extensive documentation on all the associated projects.
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