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“You look as fucking pasha man! Roma and Blacks are carrying your colonial K.u.K. dreams”1
LET’S start with the beginning. Long before we have the opportunity to present our Project SLUM-TV in Novi Sad and Belgrade, an image is already there. Thanks to Zampa di Leone a broader spectrum of people, already believe to know, what they will have to deal with if they attend our presentations. But the inclusion of this image, is not pure opportunism characterized with the old Marxist pejorative2, more another opportunity to open the field, interpret that image, and draw conclusions on the scene, which produces such a critique, like Fahim Amir3 describes it as, either a sniper-like critique … or a cheap post- adolescent one, from the safe position of the hideout. Anyway, i totally agree with Fahim Amir, that Zampa di Leone is very funny and one of the most interesting art and cultural jamming collectives on the Balkan, but here, maybe for the first time, his comic fails Yes it is funny and intelligent, but it is as true as the Serbian joke that Serbia is in Africa.
The interesting thing here, is not whether Zampa is right or not, or even funny, the thing is that in that image you are missing. Yes you! We are all together exploiting that for theoreticians fancy subjects/objects living in the slums, either in Africa or in your neighbourhood.According to many famous theoreticians the most fancy subjects or objects are living in the slums, in Africa or your neighbourhood, and we are all complicit in exploiting them I love Zampa’s strip as he connected my activist and artistic practice in a very good way. Belgrade Gazela, where the final event of Under the Bridge 2004 happened, was indeed a kind of a new starting point of my activism. There we, as the artist collective Biro, founded by Vladan and Rena Jeremic and myself, invited the whole of Belgrade to join us at Gazela for the final event of Under the Bridge.
With an interdisciplinary approach, we accomplished our mission quite well. Although we were mostly ignored by the established fine artists and curators, and crazy stories and gossip was spread, that we work for the German Secret Service, as our project was sponsored by the Friedrich Naumann Stiftung, a few hundred people enjoyed our 5 day project. A few refugees and Roma invited us into their temporary houses, and they told us, how we were the first Serbians and other people to visit them, without any reason. With reason they meant, that usually the only Serbs visiting them, are either social workers and first-aid services, so people who are there with a clear agenda, and leave as fast as they can, if they come at all.. I don’t state here, that we didn’t have any agenda: we had an explicit agenda, and our agenda was to sneak into public space, to research, to analyse and to intervene and if it happens to be open for new collaborations.
Unfortunately, we were not able to start a longer term cooperation and also our cooperation on Biro broke apart, I still tried to organize an intervention together with locals from the Gazela settlement but without any luck. It was easier to attract Students from the class of Prof. Marina Gržinić, Eduard Freudmann and Can Gülcü4, to work with or at the Gazela, than to find allies in Serbia. The Zampa in ourselves would probably say here, that its easier to make money with transgender and homosexual issues than with the empowerment of minorities, or that bourgeois engagement for homosexual rights is closer to the issues of the leading class and therefore more successful. Logical no?
Ok, we see, organizing an a successful and peaceful Gay Pride Parade in Belgrade is a visual urban code, which easily would be distributed as one proof, that the Serbian society is a civilized one, which shares similar cultural codes and is a logical part of all the societies which can hold Gay Pride Parades in their capitals. Yet, as in the rich countries, it would not solve all problems, and after the parade, discrimination would of course go on, on different levels, but stimulate the public discourse on different levels. Anyway, the image would be a sufficient one and could be easily communicated.
On the other side, all of you remember, that the Gazela settlement should have disappeared, before the Basketball championship was held, so no foreign visitor could be distracted by its disturbing appearance. 80 industrial containers, who are also contaminated as an image in various ways, were already prepared, to serve as new temporary housing locations, when we faced an eruption of typical racist resentment by the potential new neighbours, orchestrated by the Serbian radical party SRS to sabotage solidarity. The local politicians in charge decided to leave the situation as it was. The shame of having such an image was small and the positive image of a clean Gazela would be unimportant. In a way, there is no image; according to Roma NGO’s there are 150 illegal settlements in Belgrade, so we are left, speaking with Slavoj Žižek, with the nothing which generates something. In my eyes then, a powerful situation was achievable for us, and that was a commonly generated Artist in Residency Space under the bridge, with the anticipation of the local inhabitants, and as the final event, a traditional Finish sauna on the river Sava. Installed by Seppo Renval, a well-known Finish artist, who works with traditional culture, recycled found footage and material and who represented Finland at the Venice (1999) and at the São Paulo (2002) Biennials5. Having this big shot and big name of Seppo Renval on our underground side of Art and Activism, would have had a serious impact in Serbian media scene6. Imagine that space under the bridge, turned into a traditional finish sauna, during the mainstream representational
culture events, which happened during the Nordic Balkan switch period. Well the City of Belgrade never even replied to our project proposal, and due to my own problematic economic al situation, it was not possible to continue such work or search for new allies.
The reason, why I write such a long introduction, without losing too many words on SLUM-TV yet, is that since the beginning of SLUM-TV for me it has been clear, that such a project would have been also well-received and needed in Serbia. Although, minorities have their own media, or are practically better involved in the media production than in some EU countries, the missing images of their inhuman living conditions, prove once again, that its a discriminatory society with strong class borders, implementing all known phenomena, such as those who have been formerly discriminated against are most likely to discriminate against the ones who are below them. SLUM-TV could serve there very well, and provide them with an option to take their visual representation into their own hands and to document their existence.
SLUM-TV donated a 3-chip high quality camera, one fancy laptop for editing, provided an introduction into digital video editing, organised an office, organised public screenings, film-festivals, is preparing two international workshops, one on media-hacking and internet- publishing, the second on the development and implementation of a self-developed open-source software, in cooperation with subvideo, is publishing on: http://www. slum-tv.info/ where the local production is also available in parts as the public archive of oral-history. All happened and happening in Mathare, Nairobi, Kenya, one of the biggest and most densely populated slums on earth, from 2006.
Since mid 2007, SLUM-TV is, depending on the political circumstances, fully operational, low-tech style. We try to finance a monthly production of one newsreel and one sit-com. SLUM-TV formed a team of between 15 – 20 persons, who are also paid to work and produce. In the next year, we want to broaden our audience by distributing newsreels and sit-coms over African Pirate Channels, and make SLUM-TV Nairobi self-sustainable. In the future we want to offer cooperation worldwide, invite different initiatives to make use of our digital archive and of the software we developed.
contact us: email@example.com
1 Comment by Dr. Agan Papic/ strip by Zampa di Leone from http://www.eroticunion.org
2 Sezgin Boynik 2006: Learning from Underground http://www.modukit.com/out/kakogod/index.php?id=92
3 Fahim Amir: “The viewer is left clueless as to whether to embrace this sniper-like critique of the politics of aesthetic distinction, the „dispositiv“ (Foucault) of the creative „author“, its attacks on the definitorial light-towers, hermeneutic monopolists, heroes and heroines of the art-world or to reject it as cheap post- adolescent pillorying from the safe position of the hideout, that levels all nuances that matter.“ (http://www. metamute.org/en/node/11500 – Mute Magazine 2008)
4 You can order their book at: http://www.beogradgazela.net/de/index.php also find informations there about the release of the book in Serbian, English and Romansh; Prof. Marina Gržinić teaches at the class of post- conceptual Art Practices at the Academy of Fine Art Vienna, Austria.
5 See: http://www.drummachine.com/v2/heavysnowflakes_bios.html
6 I write here media scene and not art scene, as I believe that the reception of the Art World is not too important. Ok, some articles make life probably easier, but the general audience is much more important
TEXT from SLUM-TV Newspaper … download the whole newspaper serbian&english SLUM-TV-novineSLUM-TV-novine