Novi Sad and Belgrade: Things with Teeth, Ex-Parks and Artists in Unwork

March 24, 2018

Donau

Many things have teeth in Serbia. The sun has teeth when it’s accompanied by a cold wind coming from Russia. And capitalism has teeth too when it materializes itself as an H&M on the central boulevard, selling for prices more expensive than let’s say in Berlin.  But Serbians address the teeth with humor. “Can you swim in the Donau?” I ask walking along the beautiful river. “If you wear an armor,” Zelman says, “or if you’d like to be a silverfish.” 

Zelman points out a fence on the other side of the road. When the fence was installed, the political party in power came to open it up officially. The party likes to keep busy by opening up all kinds of things, he explains, especially fences. They call themselves “progressives.” “It’s always suspect,” Zelman laughs, “when you call yourself progressive.” 

It’s always good to know the customs and believes when visiting abroad. So I’m told that it's not done to put a hand bag on the floor for the money might then leave it. If you coincidentally touch your nose, you have to tap three times on your hand in order to avoid a fight. When your left hand itches, it means that money goes away. If your right hand itches, then money will come. 

In Novi Sad I meet Sanja Kojić Mladenov, curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Vojvodina. She used to be its director, but only for a short time before being replaced by a male colleague. This might have to do with her interest for gender in the arts. She shows me the catalogue of an exhibition she curated while she was a director, of which the introduction reads like a manifesto. It’s about the artist Bogdanka Poznanović and aims at the affirmation and valorization of her social, artistic, and multimedia work.

Later, visiting the New Media Center_kuda.org, a collective dedicated to activism, art and politics, Zoran Pantelić mentions Poznanović again. She was his professor at the “Visual Studio for Intermedia research” at the Academy of Art in Novi Sad. Founded by Poznanović in 1979, it was the first of its kind in former Yugoslavia. Pantelić says Poznanović taught him to think immaterially. 

Pantelić is part of the third generation of media artists who started out in the mid 1990s. This generation of media artists doesn’t use Facebook or Instagram, he explains to me, because it is suspicious of Silicon Valley. Pantelić drives me around Novi Sad, pointing out how ex-parks are now turned into a place to build churches - 26 new churches in total, Zoran says with scorn.  


Shopping mall - a beauty from the 1980s

At kuda I look through the many books with titles such as: Omitted History, Conspiracies, The Continued Art Class, Art Always had Its Consequences, Almost Architecture. I note down “Artists in Unwork.” And I read: “How to treat this historical fact? To treat it as accurate and to insist on it as precise?” I like when facts are questioned in their core. 

In Belgrade it starts snowing. I visit Remont, an Independent Artistic Association founded in 1999, where Miroslav Karic shows me around. Our conversation meanders, from the street outside turned in a pedestrian zone which brings in a different crowd, to the McDonald’s that opened in 1988 in Belgrade - it was the first one in the communist world.  



Karic gives U10 a call, an artist-run space, and at 1pm I can meet up with Iva Kuzmanović who’s part of the founding team. I'm a bit early and I wait in a bakery that looks like a silent tableau vivant  with a vase, a ventilator and a landscape painting. 

I don’t manage to go and see the Contemporary Art Museum that newly opened. At least, the building opened, so I’m told with a tweak of irony. 
Many things have teeth in Serbia. The sun has teeth when it’s accompanied by a cold wind coming from Russia. And capitalism has teeth too when it materializes itself as an H&M on the central boulevard, selling for prices more expensive than let’s say in Berlin.  But Serbians address the teeth with humor. “Can you swim in the Donau?” I ask walking along the beautiful river. “If you wear an armor,” Zelman says, “or if you’d like to be a silver…
Donau

Many things have teeth in Serbia. The sun has teeth when it’s accompanied by a cold wind coming from Russia. And capitalism has teeth too when it materializes itself as an H&M on the central boulevard, selling for prices more expensive than let’s say in Berlin.  But Serbians address the teeth with humor. “Can you swim in the Donau?” I ask walking along the beautiful river. “If you wear an armor,” Zelman says, “or if you’d like to be a silverfish.” 

Zelman points out a fence on the other side of the road. When the fence was installed, the political party in power came to open it up officially. The party likes to keep busy by opening up all kinds of things, he explains, especially fences. They call themselves “progressives.” “It’s always suspect,” Zelman laughs, “when you call yourself progressive.” 

It’s always good to know the customs and believes when visiting abroad. So I’m told that it's not done to put a hand bag on the floor for the money might then leave it. If you coincidentally touch your nose, you have to tap three times on your hand in order to avoid a fight. When your left hand itches, it means that money goes away. If your right hand itches, then money will come. 

In Novi Sad I meet Sanja Kojić Mladenov, curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Vojvodina. She used to be its director, but only for a short time before being replaced by a male colleague. This might have to do with her interest for gender in the arts. She shows me the catalogue of an exhibition she curated while she was a director, of which the introduction reads like a manifesto. It’s about the artist Bogdanka Poznanović and aims at the affirmation and valorization of her social, artistic, and multimedia work.

Later, visiting the New Media Center_kuda.org, a collective dedicated to activism, art and politics, Zoran Pantelić mentions Poznanović again. She was his professor at the “Visual Studio for Intermedia research” at the Academy of Art in Novi Sad. Founded by Poznanović in 1979, it was the first of its kind in former Yugoslavia. Pantelić says Poznanović taught him to think immaterially. 

Pantelić is part of the third generation of media artists who started out in the mid 1990s. This generation of media artists doesn’t use Facebook or Instagram, he explains to me, because it is suspicious of Silicon Valley. Pantelić drives me around Novi Sad, pointing out how ex-parks are now turned into a place to build churches - 26 new churches in total, Zoran says with scorn.  


Shopping mall - a beauty from the 1980s

At kuda I look through the many books with titles such as: Omitted History, Conspiracies, The Continued Art Class, Art Always had Its Consequences, Almost Architecture. I note down “Artists in Unwork.” And I read: “How to treat this historical fact? To treat it as accurate and to insist on it as precise?” I like when facts are questioned in their core. 

In Belgrade it starts snowing. I visit Remont, an Independent Artistic Association founded in 1999, where Miroslav Karic shows me around. Our conversation meanders, from the street outside turned in a pedestrian zone which brings in a different crowd, to the McDonald’s that opened in 1988 in Belgrade - it was the first one in the communist world.  



Karic gives U10 a call, an artist-run space, and at 1pm I can meet up with Iva Kuzmanović who’s part of the founding team. I'm a bit early and I wait in a bakery that looks like a silent tableau vivant  with a vase, a ventilator and a landscape painting. 

I don’t manage to go and see the Contemporary Art Museum that newly opened. At least, the building opened, so I’m told with a tweak of irony. 

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