**please click HERE
for complete programme of research workshop "Shadowing the City"**
**please click HERE
**please click/molimo pritisnite HERE/OVDJE for Funders' list/za listu potpora i donacija**
for impressum and facts**
RE-COLLECTING CITY / RE-COLLECTING TIME
Documents and Research of Collective and Individual Memory of Urban Time-Space
POETICS AND POLITICS: THE SOURCE AND THE GROUND
“Cities are, in many ways, the embodiment of human constellation (its functioning and mechanisms), especially of its innate dichotomies. The inner and the outer, the hidden and the revealed, the private and the public, the organized and the chaotic, the pragmatic and the irrational, the reflected and the unconscious... these are just some of the aspects that humans share with their most intricate creations on Earth’s surface. A city develops like a human: from one cell (habitat) to an organism (urban system). In that sense, it can be seen as the externalisation of the internal projection of human self.
Yet, no matter to what extent an initial projection of one or several people, the city always outgrows the individual’s capability of grasping it. There is no all-encompassing image of a city that can be contained in one mind: even a map contains merely the graphic depiction of the urban structure. Each city is an ever-changing and fluctuating sum of a multitude of ideas, experiences, attitudes and prejudices of those who live in it, pass through it, think or dream of it. In that sense, the city contains the same quality of infinity as the Universe.
The city is therefore a bridge between humans and the Universe, the mirroring and defying image of the micro and the macro dimension of our world (…)
The city is a vessel; events are poured into it and, like the liquid, they acquire the shape of the vessel. Compromise is immanent to the city and a fundamental prerequisite for its existence; the results of this compromise are harmony on the one hand and conflict on the other hand. Those extremes are the source of all artistic and political initiatives – all sublimations of the unknown and its transformation into the known (…)”
These are the excerpts of ideas, images and concepts that were put on paper for various Shadow Casters projects between 2001 and 2006. During that time, in a process of slow but intensive brewing, a new project came to life: one that would tackle urban cultural memory in a multi-facetted way and evolve in a multitude of forms that always give the project a different shape.
But Re-collecting City / Re-Collecting Time (RCRT) has more ground than poetic and philosophical considerations of cities. The entire project has actually sprung out of the realisation that the preservation of cultural memory is a vitally important issue for societies undergoing transition, as in such times of feverish accumulation of capital cities go through radical and dramatic changes, often to the detriment of immaterial cultural heritage. What makes the transition even more brutal in the region of the Western Balkans, compared to Eastern and Central Europe, are the bloody wars in the 1990's that took their toll not only in the form of destruction of human lives and material property but also in the destruction of heritage of previous era in social and political as well as in cultural and spiritual sense. This has brought to an overall production of discontinuity, which is one of the most devastating elements of influence when it comes to building the future. It is in such conditions of damaged memory and pervasive collective amnesia that raising the issue of cultural memory (especially the one dealing with immaterial cultural heritage) appears as a necessary endeavour.
In its first two years, the project was focused on Zagreb and dealt with detecting, archiving, studying and exhibiting the artworks and the project documentation on artistic actions as well as political protests and public gatherings in Zagreb in public, non-typical performing spaces from 1945 to the present. In the core of RCRT’s interest was the temporality of those actions and events, which at the time of their unfolding did not aim at any permanent presence. Moreover, RCRT strove to capture even more fragile and ephemeral aspects of the past events by searching for memories of individuals – artists themselves, their collaborators, journalists, accidental passer-bys – in various forms: from material ones (photographs, films, videos, written testimonies) to spoken evocations. The time span of the project was set to three years after which the collected and processed material would be transposed to a Web site while its physical form would be handed over to an institution that would be equipped and willing to continue and expand the research.
Yet the intention has never been either to perform the role of curator/s or to assemble a more or less comprehensive archive of the kind that would result from an institutionally conducted research. The collected materials were treated as triggers for new viewpoints and associations. Apart from different smaller-size events, they were mainly channelled through two creative outputs or two forms of reflexive and critical presentation: Open Offices and Wall Newspapers. Thus the project went beyond the mere representation level, directing its attention towards the creative investigation of the broader context of artistic and political actions in public spaces.
Shadow Casters use this form of communicating with a broader public since the first project in 2001. The project was hosted 3 times during 2006 by various public spaces (Nova Gallery, Culture Club Booksa and Zagreb Student Centre) for a week during which the citizens of Zagreb - both protagonists and participants of artistic and political public events - were invited to bring their own memorabilia (photos, films, written documentation) and share them with the members of RCRT team either as a written or oral testimony. The meeting and exchange part was always combined with various events including discussions, exhibitions, screenings, concerts and interviews. Thus Open Offices would actually become mini-festivals of urban cultural memory.
An obsolete medium turned into hype: In 2007, seven street display boxes of the temporarily closed Croatian Cinematheque, all positioned in the centre, became the exhibiting space for different RCRT themes and concepts. Now in their 5th edition, Wall Newspapers feature hi/stories that were hidden, forgotten or petrified in cliché, presented through docu-fiction collages of visual and written materials. Thus the project is present in the public on different levels but with great intensity and in a continuous way.
SHADOWING THE CITY: PREPARATORY WORKSHOPS AND RESEARCH WORKSHOP
In the meantime, RCRT has expanded to the entire region of the Western Balkans.
This phase was conceived as a series of preparatory workshops in different cities of the region (Zagreb, Belgrade, Ljubljana, Dubrovnik) that would lead to an international research workshop. The preparatory workshops were detecting innovative and artistic practices dealing with the issue while offering the know-how of the project leaders accumulated through the RCRT project. Each workshop has had a somewhat different format and each was documented either (or both) in material or virtual form. Selected participants of those workshops are taking part in the research workshop Shadowing the City: Hypertextualisation of Urban Spaces (May 8-10, 2009, Zagreb), together with other artists, cultural researchers, architects, anthropologists, operators and officials from 14 countries world-wide.
The notion of shadowing has at least a two-fold meaning: one comes from visual arts terminology and stands for giving texture and volume to two-dimensional plains. The other comes from social sciences and is used as well in performing arts as a method of merging with the surrounding or the situation and mimicking its unfolding and traits. Shadowing the City embraces both meanings.
The three-day intensive workshop is aimed at detecting the specifics of approaches to immaterial cultural heritage and cultural memory in urban spaces through different artistic practices and initiatives, urban culture theory and social science. The workshop format consists of thematic clusters of concise presentations of various artistic projects and other cultural endeavours dealing with the topic intertwined with discussions – a dynamic and dialogical form shying away from the ex cathedra principle. The concentric circles or layers of different approaches, analysed and reflected through discussions, will presumably allow for some new perspectives.