Labyrinth of the Balkan’s

Transnational interdisciplinary two year research project

… & finally, they stayed in a gap between history and future, through individual realities and phenomena’s in society, searching for a thread that leads toward a place called cruel reality….
Balkan was always a metaphor of CONFLICT. Communication between the Balkans and Europe, as well as communication among the Balkan countries and people is complex not only because of internal differences but it is also burdened by numerous prejudices, stereotypes and unresolved problems from more recent and more distant events. Since “Other” and “Different” are often seen as a threat or an obstacle, the Balkans is as a consequence characterized by heterogeneity of cultures, religions, ethnicities and languages.

Project Labyrinth of the Balkan’s refers on the countries of the exYu in which the epicentre of that conflict erupted through bloody developments in the 90-ties. Traces of that myths and blood are still among us, the epicentar just moved eastern in geographical sense (problem of defining Bosnia and Herzegovina as one state with two or three entities, problem of Kosovo independence, problem of Macedonia as a virtual state that is not recognized by the “neighbours”- the Greeks and Bulgarians, etc).

We observe Balkan through its cancerogenic grid of borders and myths that are based on the late Middle Age happenings, and also through the ways that myths are transferred into the reality. Reality that produced hate towards the Other, and towards anything that is different.
Every exYu state had, and still has at least one Other in whom the people see the source of frustrations and disappointments. The solutions of those problems were solved through aggression and blood and that Other Europe (here we refer to the Balkan states) needed help from its stepmother, or older sister- Europe, who was often playing the wrong cards, not completely understanding the complexity of the issues of myths and the cruel reality (just to mention massacre in Srebrenica, that was “protected area”, or all those medals of honour which was given to EU soldiers that did nothing).

The Labyrinth of the Balkan’s has an aim to mark key issues of that mistakes spoken through personal experiences of the artists. This project through personal inner perception of recent bloody happenings problematizes the relation between individual memories and the collective awareness.

Etymologically the word Balkan literary means the BLOOD and the HONEY (Turkism). Using those two opposite symbols we want to enlight their direct, indirect and individual meanings in the time of transition, time in which all exYu states are economically and politically in different relations towards the EU.
The word “balkanization” became synonym for fragmentation, disintegration, tendency for conflict and termination of communication or cooperation. In this sense, the Balkan identity gained a negative connotation from a burdening heritage (Todorova) and was stigmatized and gradually became a limiting factor for development in regional and continental proportions.

The Labyrinth of the Balkan’s is a complex transnational interdisciplinary research project that is dealing with relation of past, present and future of the people living on exYugoslav territory. Project is about heritage of those countries, their transition through recent wars, economical transition period, and their integration in EU. The focus of the project is on the last two decades of personal and collective history of this area but in a broader context of time and place (exYu, Balkan, Europe).

Problematization of those issues will be done thought two different point of views:
contemporary art workshops with performers from all countries of ex Yugoslavia (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia) starting from their personal experiences; memories, conflict experiences, their usual perceptions and stereotypes about themselves and each other, their fears…symposium of scientists from Balkan countries where they will problematize the semiotic (geographical, historical, philosophical, anthropological, sociological) of the Balkans and exYu states in a larger context and also their positions as professionals of these fields in a specific time and place.

Balkan’s labyrinth has an aim to connect artists, scientists and cultural organizations from exYu, which will, by problematizing the theme of the Balkan with all of it’s phenomena’s, open the possibility of dialogue between artists and scientists on the subject.
We want to enchant the cultural area of exYu, Balkan and Europe through the development of cultural network in cooperation on the subject of Balkans. We want to find answers before official archives are opened and before the past become official truth on which future without dialogue is based. Through personal experiences of performers we will speak out about history, present and future of one of the most specific region in the world.
By this project, we want to establish a platform of artists that can critically approach to this subject and open the space of cooperation and dialogue. They will also try to shade different light on the theme of the Balkans and try to prove that it is not only the territory of conflicts, but some constructive dialogue is also possible. By lightening this themes through personal experiences of people living and doing art in this territory, we want to make an outlook that goes beyond local, regional and national interests, want to make them visible and reachable to everyone in Europe and in the World.

The main goal of this project is finding possible ways of solving those problems through:
connecting art organisations from all exYu countries into a cultural network, upload a web site where they will communicate on these issues, exchange ideas and practical experience on these fields;connecting artists from all parts of exYu by developing workshops in order to make a performance in which they will express theirs point of view on the subject;establish an intercultural dialogue within them (art organisations and artists) and them to public of Balkan and Europe through performances and direct communication;connecting science experts on the subject of Balkan where they will problematize Balkan and exYu territory through semiotic (geographical, historical, philosophical, anthropological, sociological);evaluating the work of cultural organizations, artists and scientists; results, efficiency, economy, relevance…making a publication and an interactive DVD on the progress and results of their work to present the project development and results to the public.

The Balkan’s labyrinth is a two-year project. First year is for establishing a network of partner organisations from each country from the exYu territory, preparation of the contemporary art performance through six 7days-long workshops in each partner cities/countries, the premiere of the performance developed through the workshops and symposium of scientists. In a second year the performance will be played 5 times in the countries of exYu. Also, at the end of the year, we are planning evaluation workshop, and the project will be staged in at least 3 different EU countries. In the end there is making a publication and interactive DVD of the project and presentation to the public.

Labyrinth of the Balkan’s includes 14 performers (1 female and 1 male performer per each of exYu republic countries, 1 from Kosovo and 1 from Vojvodina), 6 visual artists, 6 musicians and 18 scientists. In total, there will be 44 participants.