Re-load: a brief introduction to the BELGRADE (OTHER) SCENE, open glossary
It consists of three segments that reread each other through their specific juxtaposition.
The segment Society-politics: context comprises reflections of the socio-political context in which we act. In each issue, we inscribe one of the concepts that are characteristic of the Serbian context: transition, cultural policy, public space, pastoral-orthodox doxa, anti-intellectualism, xenophobia, nationalism, People, misogyny, fabricated history, quasi-traditionalism, education/University, civil education, homophobia, turbo-folk, free market, etc.
The segment Art-culture: independent scene consists of conceptualization and self-reflection on concepts that directly refer to the actual phenomena of the Belgrade independent scene. In this segment reports about initiatives, problems and events of the independent scene in the fields of contemporary theory, art practice and cultural activism are presented.
The third segment Art at Work consists of the contribution by the invited artist
Ana Vujanović and Marta Popivoda in collaboration with Ana Vilenica
OPEN GLOSSARY – ENTRY No. 02/08
Society – politics: context – EDUCATION (Ana Vujanović)
Both local and global contexts and their social, political, and economic processes condition the theory and practice of education in the local framework today. It could be precisely defined as global Neo-Liberal Capitalism that is in the Post-Socialist Serbia in its transitional phase. While thinking globally and referring to what is of our primal interest – contemporary education, we should emphasize an important paradigmatic shift that is a shit from material to immaterial production. In this respect we can think about the so-called “third sector,” to which education belongs; education cannot be separated from the production of knowledge and its distribution and use, even not from the change of the very epistemology of education today. Besides, an important aspect is becoming increasingly influential and that is the domination of the digital paradigm (technology, culture, media). It could be said that digitalization – in whose media materiality protocols and procedures of a more open access than solely information are inscribed – unveils layers as those of capitalism. Development of ICT significantly changes the status of the information, the basic cell of knowledge and education. On the Net, accessibility of information is becoming easy and fast, and the basic “alchemical” element of institutional education from the elementary school to the university is lost; thus, education has to search for new practices, methods, motivations and legitimation of its existence. For the local Serbian context it is important to mention the implementation of the Bologna Declaration (2003). As in the majority of the reforms here, this one is also being introduced very gradually and slowly. What the local “Bologna” opponents are protecting is an imaginary past, i.e. the traditional university system based on profound study of a particular field. However, the resistance points to the wrong target. This local argument does not pass the reality check: studying in the local educational system has never been based on profound study, but on the non-existence of an educational policy, filling one with lots of unnecessary information, lack of practice, irrational average length of studying (8 years) and immense bureaucracy. This resulted in a non-planned number of cadres in certain fields, and according to the incredible data of the Institute for Statistics of Serbia, only 16% of the students in Serbia finish faculty in the planned term, and more then 50% of the students who start university studies never graduate. At the Conference of Ministers of Education in Bergen (2005) in a competition of 45 countries, Serbia attained one mark better than Andorra and Bosnia and Herzegovina for its higher educational system. However, what was really important in Socialism was that education was FREE, which means it was relatively accessible to everyone, and thus making vertical mobility within society possible. The truth is that “Bologna” brutally replaces deep study with efficient training. What local “Bologna” opponents miss is precisely this very “view to the future.” By implementation of “Bologna,” knowledge is explicitly seen as a market commodity; and this is the basis that determines every aspect of “Bologna education,” from the imperatives of efficiency, rapidity and performance, to the free exchange of students, professors and professional cadre. The EU is not affected by this dilemma when it defines its four freedoms with the demand of “free movement of goods, persons, services and capital.” The issue of education in the European context is a hot topic, both for the institutions and for those outside of them, not because of preserving the past, but because of the radical commodification of knowledge that is going on now.
Art – culture: independent scene – SELF-EDUCATION (Knowledge Smuggling!) (Marta Popivoda)
In the context of transition (marked by the Bologna reform and the new market logic of the educational system), the TkH platform (Walking Theory) in collaboration with actors of the independent scene in Belgrade began to intensively work on the processes of self-education. A distinct focus is placed on research and formation of methodologies of self-education, as well as questioning its assimilation in the institutional educational framework. After the research-based project Self-Managed Educational System in Art (s-o-s project), which was realized in collaboration with Kontekst gallery, TkH started two new projects: Knowledge Smuggling! in collaboration with the Other scene (Belgrade) and Research Lab: Principles and Methodologies of Auto-Education in collaboration with the PerformingArtsForum (Fr), TanzQuartier (Vienna) and Advanced Performance Training (Antwerp). With the long-term project Knowledge Smuggling! we wish to open a temporary crack in the dominant knowledge market and to intervene in the existing dominant system of knowledge production by smuggling knowledge from official educational institutions, within the scope of satisfying individual needs and territories of culture to the greatest degree possible. The project started with a one-week regional winter school, Knowledge Smuggling!, which was held in the new cultural centre Magacin (in Belgrade at Kraljević Marka Street) from 24th – 30th of January 2008. The school was conceived as an intense curriculum of workshops, laboratories, lectures and presentations in the field of performing arts, which set forward relations of performance, critical theories, digital technology, and free culture. The school emerged as a self-organized initiative of collaborators of the TkH platform and participants of the s-o-s project, aimed at functioning as a collective self-educational polygon. Thus, the school curriculum developed ad hoc, emerging from the concrete, individual needs and interests of the collaborators, without a director or an editor giving it scientific, theoretic, artistic, etc. legitimacy. The school is realized within the framework of the East Dance Academy, in collaboration with the Multimedia Institute MAMA (Zagreb), collaborative performance group BADco. (Zagreb), Maska – institute for publishing, production and education (Ljubljana) and the initiative of the Other scene (Belgrade). Full program of the school at http://www.tkh-generator.net/spip.php?breve254. We hope that this school, that is just running, proves that self-education is needed and even necessary for each critical work on the contemporary cultural scene, which is changing faster then any university.
Ana Vilenica, ProSfera, office for research and implementation in the local market of ecological problems, postcards, Pančevo office, 2007/08.
Ana Vujanović, PhD (Belgrade, born 1975) is a freelance theoretician, organizer, editor, dramaturge, lecturer in the field of contemporary performative arts and culture. She is also editor-in-chief of TkH, Journal for Performing Arts Theory, Belgrade.
Marta Popivoda (Belgrade, born 1982) is a program coordinator of the theoretical-artistic platform TkH, editor of TkH, Journal for Performing Arts Theory, video artist and cultural worker.
Ana Vilenica is director of ProSfera, based in Pančevo, Serbia from 2007. Vilenica is specialized in the field of organizational design and business procedures.