Jugonostalgija kao način prisvajanja prostora
  • 2017-06-27

  • Memorija grada usko je vezana za njegovu arhitekturu i identitet, i jedan od najvažnijih faktora pri identifikaciji s određenim prostorom. Sa globalizacijom i ubrzanim širenjem gradova, te njihovoj sve većoj uniformnosti, rastu pitanja o genius loci-u takvih urbanih prostora odnosno koliko novi karakter njihovog identiteta utiče na kvalitet kulture stanovanja i života. Na području bivše Jugoslavije, dodatno na ovaj sloj konfuzije nadograđuje se ona o kontrastu sa ‘nekim boljim’ prethodnim vremenima, a koja se jako često nekritički u javnom diskursu koristi kao osnovna prizma analize modernih tokova razvoja. Međutim, mladi naraštaji koji se malo ili niti malo sjećaju ovog perioda sve više zahtjevaju odmicanje od takvog narativa i potragu za rješenjima nagomilanih problema kroz rastući aktivizam i podizanje svijesti o gradu. Beograd trenutno vodi ovu bitku, i predstavlja jako dobar primjer gradovima u Bosni i Hercegovini koji se suočavaju sa istim problemima. Mladi aktivisti za prisvajanje prostora koriste memoriju prostora vezanu za jugonostalgiju pozitivno – za produžavanje života tih prostora kroz nove namjene kulture, odgajajući tako nove generacije.

     
    Uvod: Merdžana Mujkanović

     

    Dva ekstrema: urbana amnezija i urbana nostalgija

     

    Autorica: Nayab Jan 
    Prevod: Merdžana Mujkanović

     

    „Beograd je sukobljen grad – njegov politički kontekst, socio-ekonomska struktura i urbana geografija prolaze kroz fundamentalne promjene. Na ovoj kritičnoj raskrsnici, u procjepu između prošlosti i sadašnjosti, gdje se rađaju njegove demokratske institucije i započinje proces ‘evropskih integracija’, urbani aktivizam ima ogromne implikacije na njegovu budućnost.“ (Mijatovic, 2014)

    Aktivizam mjesta ukorjenjen je u razumjevanju i primjeni memorije. Sa svojim naglaskom na fluidno i vremenski ograničeno razumjevanje urbanog tkiva, može otvoriti put progresivnijoj politici koja će da restruktuira izgrađenu strukturu grada. Stoga, postoji krucijalna veza između memorije i aktivizma u gradu, gdje percepcije prošlosti aktiviraju nove načine razmišljanja o budućnosti. Kroz aktivizam nastaju novi prostori kulturne produkcije, političkog protesta i solidarnosti, a koji potom mijenjaju prostorni izgled grada i započinju nove načine razmišljanja o urbanom dizajnu. Posmatrati ćemo ovaj spoj memorije, mjesta i aktivizma na određenom prostoru Beograda, kako bi istražili kako njihovo preklapanje može proizvesti prostorne promjene u gradu.

    Potrebno je, odmah na početku, razjasniti tri stvari. Prvo, referiranje na memoriju se, u većini slučajeva, odnosi na kolektivnu memoriju, ali prepoznaje da granica između individualne i kolektivne memorije nije uvijek jasno razgraničena. Nadalje, razumjevanje memorije kao sjećanja na prošlost uzeta su kao fleksibilna, kratkotrajna i fluidna, gdje više grupa može imati slične ili oprečne memorije. Poenta je u tome da bi svakoj grupi trebalo biti dozvoljen prostor i sloboda na sjećanja koja onda koriste u zajedničkom djelovanju. I treće, ekstremna zatvorenost i nefleksibilnost memorije, koja ne posjeduje upravo spomenutu poroznost, imaju visok rizik stvaranja zatvorenih, isključivih i rigidnih urbanih prostora.

    Literatura o nekontrolisanom urbanom širenju i ostalim formama neoliberalnog urbanog planiranja argumentuje kako konstantna potreba kapitala da ruši i stvara urbane strukture oduzima gradovima njihov jedinstven identitet, ukorjenjen u kolektivnoj memoriji. U srcu ovakvog razvoja grada je svojevoljna amnezija, gdje je moć mjesta neutralizovana ili namjernim ignorisanjem ili uklanjanjem iz historije.

    Kevin Lynch (1960) koristi termin ‘imageability’ da opiše fenomen gdje su istinski živa urbana mjesta ona koja imaju jasno prepoznatljive karakteristike koje njihovi građani pamte, što im pomaže da se povežu i orjentišu unutar neke izgrađene sredine. Ovi pejzaži zajedničkog identiteta nisu samo važni u arhitektonskom ili estetskom smislu, već u tome što imaju jaku vezu sa transformabilnim političkim aktivizmom, koji stvaraju kod svojih građana. Jedinstvenost, identifikabilnost i osjećaj za mjesto, manje će biti dio identiteta jednog grada ukoliko se njegova forma ubrzano mijenja svakih nekoliko decenija. Dodatno, vrlo slične strukture i građevine koje nastaju u ovom procesu izgradnje od strane transnacionalnih korporacija čine gradove manje prepoznatljivima, dodatno smanjujući mogućnost imaginativnosti prostora.

    Ovaj nedostatak osjećaja za mjesto, ukorijenjen u u amnezijski ciklus konstrukcije i dekonstrukcije neoliberalnog kapitala, smanjuje mogućnost stvaranja raznolikosti, identifikacije sa gradom, stvaranja zajedničkih prostora, te u potpunosti ignoriše već stvorenu memoriju, mreže i solidarnost među ljudima na nekom mjestu. Politika pomijeranja i raseljavanja stanovništva kroz dekonstrukciju velikih komada urbanog tkiva, nastaje iz amnezije koja svojevoljno poriče historiju i memoriju onih koji su živjeli i stvarali ova mjesta.

    U Beogradu jedan ovakav mega projekat koji mijenja ogroman dio grada bez ikakvog obzra prema postojećim prostorima memorije i načina života njegovih građana, a sa ciljem da stvore još jedno naselje prepuno tornjeva i generičke arhitekture istovjetne onoj u istočnom Londonu, Manhattan-u, Dubai-u, Šangaju ili Tokiju, jeste ‘Beograd na vodi’. Ovaj projekat je kritikovan od strane različitih grupa, urbanista i građana, do aktivista kao što su ‘Ministarstva prostora’ koji ističu nedostatak demokratske procedure u projektu koji vodi kompanija ‘Eagle Hills’ iz Abu Dhabi-a. Sa mješavinom objekata koji uključuju 200 metara visoke tornjeve, trgovački centar i luksuzne stanove, opravdano su može nazvati amnezičnim jer ima cilj da kreira grad koji je u jasnom kontrastu sa okolnom izgrađenom strukturom, a istovjetan sa ostalim modernim mega-gradovima svijeta.

    ©Andrej Isakovic_Getty images

    ©Andrej Isakovic_Getty images

    Kao odgovor na ovakve procese u Srbiji se javlja obrnut, ali podjednako upitan i kritičan proces, nostalgičnog prizivanja prošlosti i načina života u socijalizmu. Prema Jessica-i Greenberg (2011), traumatično iskustvo nedavne prošlosti Srbije su stvorili osjećaj žaljenja za historijski specifičnom formom građanstva, koja je u mnogo slučajeva u potpunosti imaginativna.

    Za one koji su živjeli u turbulentnom vremenu 90ih i bili brzo razočarani post-Milošević političkim transformacijama, memorija utopijske prošlosti sa stabilnom, paternalističkom i internacionalno poštovanom socijalističkom Jugoslavijom, zauzima jako važno mjesto u njihovom razumjevanju urbanog života i mjesta. Ovakav diskurs koncentrisan na nostalgiju mnogo doprinosi savremenom osjećaju očaja i beznađa, ali i samim time otvara prostor za političko djelovanje i procese transformacije. Osjećaj političke bespomoćnosti može imati jako važan uticaj na izgrađenu formu grada i živost javnog prostora, pogotovo kada govorimo o njegovoj kulturnoj produkciji. Mladi ljudi se jako često referišu na ‘dobar život’ koji su imali stariji članovi njihove porodice u socijalizmu, i ističu da sve što žele jeste da se stvari vrate u normalno, stabilno i predvidljivo stanje.

    Drugi problem sa kreiranjem ekstremno nostalgičnog sjećanja na urbanu prošlost jeste da vodi produkciji korporativno eksluzivističkih teritorija koji ograničavaju fluidno i dinamično razumjevanje prošlosti i višeslojne memorije zajedničkog pripadanja gradu. S jedne strane, ova opsesija vodi transformaciji nostalgije u tržišno dobro, ili ono što neki akademici nazivaju „industrija nostalgije“, gdje mogi građani postaju turisti u vlastitom gradu i konzumeristi memorije, umjesto aktivni učesnici i stvaraoci prostora. S druge strane, važno je analizirati čija se to memorija čuva kroz takvu nostalgiju i za koju svrhu. Mnogo je više vjerovatno da su to mjesta stanovanja, političkog i kulturnog uticaja elite nego radna mjesta ili kulturni centri manje uticajnih grupa. Želja za privlačenjem turizma, kapitala i konzumerističkog novca kreira reakcionističko prisvajanje mjesta i memorije koji služi da legitimiše rigidne, nacionalističke i eksluzivističke narative memorije, i u isto vrijeme pacificira protestne procese ovakvog načina življenja kroz konstantno idealiziranje prošlosti.

    Značaj mjesta u memoriji i kolektivnom angažmanu

    Vrlo je važno naglasiti značaj istančanog razumjevanja mjesta i njegove memorije kao jedne od osnova progresivnog aktivizma u gradu. Kao što je prethodno naglašeno, ekstremna shvatanja mjesta i memorije mogu proizvesti ksenofobične ideologije koje označava one izvan njegove teritorije kao nesposobne za razumjevanje prošlosti, potrebne za stvaranje konstruktivne budućnosti. Umjesto toga, kritična politika mjesta mora shvatati memoriju kao nešto visceralno, intuitivno pa tako i dinamiku koja stoji u njenom centru. Treba da traži način na koji različite grupe građana mogu da dijele svoja sjećanja i utkaju ih na različite načine u prostor kulturne i političke promjene.

    Ovdje je koncept poroznosti izuzetno značajan. Porozni prostori i teritorije su oni koji priznaju evoluciju prostora kroz vrijeme i traže da ne unište u potpunosti memoriju mjesta ili da ga povezuju isključivo sa singularnim i nostalgičnim narativom, dopuštajući tako prošlosti da koegzistira zajedno sa sadašnošću. Ova dimenzija razumjevanja vremena, mjesta  i memorije postaje ključna za građanski aktivizam i konačno i na izgled i funkcionalnost grada.

    U ovom kontekstu, neki od najznačajnijih primjera mjesta u gradu koji proizvode takvu memoriju su mnogobrojne odbačene zgrade ili javni prostori, stavljena u ponovnu upotrebu, a koja na kraju prevaziđe i preraste orginalnu ideju njenih autora. U ovakve prostore spadaju na primjer mobilni vrtovi kao što su Prinzessinnengarten u  Berlinu i Eco-Interstice u Parizu – mjesta gdje je memorija prethodne upotrebe iskorištena da stvori novo mjesto življenja i kulturne produkcije. Takvi porozni prostori su trenutno u nastajanju i u Beogradu.

    Savamala, Ministarstvo prostora i urbanizam okupacije

    Razuzdani urbani pejzaž Beograda, nasilno srušen i izgrađen mnogo puta, planiran pod modernističkom paradigmom socijalističkog modernizma i sada otvoren fluktuaciji i cikličnoj transformaciji neoliberalnog kapitala, rezultovao je u mnogobrojnim napuštenim zgradama, urušenim prostorima i nekorištenim dijelovima grada. Ovi napušteni prostori vizuelna su reprezentacija memorije koja je ostavljena po strani, političkih promjena i nemara i amnezije državnog urbanog planiranja. U isto vrijeme, oni predstavljaju i jedinstvenu priliku za kreativnu formu građanskog aktivizma koja koristi njihovu memoriju da stvori suprotan narativ upotrebe i prostornog dizajna. Savamala distrikt u Beogradu, napuštena industrijska zona u centru Beograda, postaje glavni primjer stvaranja takvih alternativnih prostora kulture (tekst za članak je pisan prije nego što je nastupilo rušenje kulturnih objekata na prostoru Savamale).

    Savamala je prepuna napuštenih prostora, luksuznih art nouveau vila, tvornica i radionica izgrađenih nakon Drugog svjetskog rata. Stoga, samo za početak, i napuštene ove strukture predstavljaju vrlo raznolik spektar upotrebe i identiteta. Rastući kreativni i kulturni aktivizam Savamale, nastao kao odgovor prostornom paradoksu viška luksuznog stanovanja i trgovačkih centara s jedne strane i nedostatka prostora za kulturu s druge, utjelovljuje ovu višeslojnu memoriju sa novom upotrebom mjesta, otvara prostor za kolektivno, dinamično učešću građana i građanki u nastajanju Beograda.

    U srcu mnogih od ovih incijativa nalazi se memorija na bivšu Jugoslaviju čiji su urbani centri bili sinonim za umjetnost i kulturu i destinacija turista iz svih dijelova Evrope. Međutim, ovi aktivisti umjesto da dopuste da trenutna politička i kulturna situacija stvara beznadežni narativ nostalgije, kanalisali su memoriju na progresivan i kritičan način da bi poslali jasnu poruku protiv tzv. investitorskog utrbanizma. Ovaj aktivizam je generisao novu prostornu viziju i izgled prostora, pretvarajući stare napuštene zgrade u višenamjenske, žive prostore otvorene za debatu, umjetnost, teatar, ples i učešće građana i građanki.

    ©Belgrade at night; https://belgradeatnight.com/bars/mikser-house/

    ©Belgrade at night; https://belgradeatnight.com/bars/mikser-house/

    ©Belgrade at night ; https://belgradeatnight.com/belgrade-areas

    ©Belgrade at night ; https://belgradeatnight.com/belgrade-areas

    Jedan od važnijih dijelova ove kulturne mreže jeste Ministarstvo prostora. Nastao iz prethodno spomenute borbe između komercijalizacije prostora i nedostaka prostora za kulturu, ovaj pokret se proširio kako bi skrenuo pažnju na katastrofalno stanje javnog sektora, uključujući nedostatak pitke vode, stanovanja i komercijalizacije javnih prostora. Ministarstvo započinje sa svojim radom u 2010. godini kreiranjem Ulične galerije, tj. Redizajnom jednog od najkomercijalnijih pasaža u centru grada. Zapušteni, mračni prolaz sa mirisom urina transformisan je u javnu galeriju, prostor sa devet panela koji je izlagao različite vrste umjetničkih radova velikog formata. Cjelokupan proces, od prve nelegalne izložbe, do zvaničnog otvaranja 2012. godine, zahtjevao je dvije godine kolektivnog truda i političkih pregovora.

    Osim Ulične galerije, Ministarstvo je napušteni filmski prostor smješten u predgrađu Beograda nazvan Karaburma, pretvorio u uspješan projekat Expedition Inex Film (EIF). Zgrada bez vrata, prozora, podova ili namještaja je okupirana od strane 40 aktivista i u potpunosti prenamjenjena u multifunkcionalni kulturni hub, koji danas sadrži nekoliko umjetničkih studija, galeriju, plesni studio i savremeni cirkus. Ovaj akt predstavljao je direktno protivljenje gašenju različitih državnih kulturnih institucija, uključujući više od deset kina, kao i smanjenju gradskog budžeta za kulturu. Kroz prenamjenu starog kulturnog centra u novi, raznolikiji i višenamjenski prostor za kreativnu industriju, memorija je korištena kako bi se stvorio novi kulturni prostor.

    ©http://citymagazine.rs/clanak/alternativni-beograd-mainstream-je-out/ulicna-galerija-1

    ©http://citymagazine.rs/clanak/alternativni-beograd-mainstream-je-out/ulicna-galerija-1

    Važno je napomenuti da Ministarstvo prostora ne želi da bude apolitično ili ograničeno samo na sferu kulture, koji su svakako neizbježno povezani. Stvarajući nove mikro prostore za alternativne oblike urbanizma i urbane kulture, traže da pošalju širu poruku nezadovoljstva načinom na koji se njihov grad razvija. U nedavno obavljenom intervjuu, jedan od osnivača objašnjava kako je ova borba za kulturu povezana sa mnogo širom borbom protiv nedemokratične privatizacije i državne korupcije. U isto vrijeme predstavlja i borbu za stvaranje prostora koji će omogućiti nove narative solidarnosti. Njihov aktivizam izaziva postojeće paradigme prostornog planiranja kroz direktnu subverziju trenutnog načina korištenja prostora, ali i kroz jasniju političku borbu. Iz ovih razloga su i vrlo aktivno uključeni u pokret ‘Ne davimo Beograd’, koji vrlo jasno i glasno protestuje protiv projekta ‘Beograd na vodi’.

    Kao odgovor na zatvaranje 14 kina u Beogradu, a koja spadaju u mnoge zapuštene prostore kulture Beograda, Ministarstvo je pokrenulo Projekat Kino: Povratak otpisanih, koji je kroz niz urbanih intervencija rezultovao u potpunoj okupaciji jednog od njih. Pored okupacije, Ministarstvo je simultano sprovodilo i jave proteste, kao i legalne mjere stvaranja svijesti i odgovornosti za manjak ulaganja i rada na javnim prostorima od strane vlasti. Neka od ovih kina prodata su investitorima koji žele da ih pretvore u supermarkete i kasina, demonstrirajući moć kapitala nad smanjenjem otvorenog javnog prostora u gradu. Ova destrukcija kulturnog tkiva grada kritikovana je kroz prostorni aktivizam koji koristi memoriju tog mjesta kako bi postavio vrlo važna pitanja o sadašnjosti i budućnosti Beograda. Kratkoročno, imao je neposredan uticaj na korištenje prostora i oživljavanje zapuštenih i napuštenih zgrada. Dugoročno, kreirao je nove mreže, kolektivitete i mogućnosti u gradu.

    ©Ministarstvo prostora

    ©Ministarstvo prostora

    ©Ministarstvo prostora

    ©Ministarstvo prostora

    Memorija i Mogući grad

    Ovakve nove forme urbanizma predstavljaju značajan izazov načinu na koji urbani planeri, gradska vlast i privatni kapital utiču na prostornu formu grada. Brišući linije između legalne i ilegalne upotrebe, okupirajući prostore, kreirajući načine samo-održavanja, podcrtavajući vrijednost kulture, mjesta i identiteta, kao i naglašavajući nemar države prema javnom prostoru, stvaraju novu nadu u ovoj sferi osjećaja napuštenosti.

    Oni koriste memoriju prošlosti u stvaranju novog kolektivnog aktivizma da bi razvili mreže solidarnosti i kolektivnog učešća u urbanim problemima. Neke od grupa uključenih u ovaj aktivizam, uključujući Ministarstvo prostora, koriste memoriju načina života u bivšoj Jugoslaviji i koncept „bratstva i jedinstva“ da bi oživjeli kulturni aktivizam u gradu. Kroz urbane intervencije, oni ne pokreću samo zajednički politički aktivizam, već i ukazuju na alternativne načine stvaranja javnog prostora i dobara. Unutar takvih prostora, višeslojsnost svakodnevnih identiteta su ostavljene po strani, te grupe koje predstavljaju beskućnike, žene, samostalne umjetnike, studente i aktiviste nalaze se na jednom mjestu kako bi ponovno izgradili i rekonceptualizirali zapuštene dijelove grada.

    Postoji veliki potencijal u utjelovljenoj memoriji mjesta da informiše naš kapacitet za političkim aktivizmom, pogotovo kada nije vezan vremenskom i prostornom rigidnošću. Na ovaj način, on može poremetiti linearne narative politike, kulture i prostora koji traže da povežu specifično mjesto sa memorijom određene grupe, i tako uticati na kreiranje vizije novih upotreba prostora u gradu.

     

    Esej nastaje kao dio šireg istraživanja na temu Beograda i jugonostalgije u sklopu programa LSE Cities 2016 godine.

    ©Ministarstvo prostora

    ©Ministarstvo prostora

    YUGONOSTALGIA AND MEMORY AS A WAY TO RECLAIM URBAN SPACE IN BELGRADE

    “Belgrade is a contested city; its political landscape, socio-economic structure and urban geography are undergoing fundamental change. At this critical juncture, in this rupture between past and present, where its nascent democratic institutions are being developed, and its ‘European integration’ is underway, the course and nature of urban activism has massive implications for the city’s fortune.” (Mijatovic, 2014)

    Place based activism is rooted in the critical understanding and application of memory. With its emphasis on a fluid and temporal understanding of the urban fabric, it can pave the way for a more progressive politics which serve to fundamentally restructure the conceptions about the built form of the city. Hence, there is a crucial link between memory and its impact on activism, where perceptions of the past activate modes of thinking about the future. Through this activism, new spaces of cultural production, political protest and joint solidarity are created, which significantly alter the spatial outlook of the city and symbolise new ways of thinking about urban design. Ultimately, it is this nexus of memory, place and activism which is to be explored in order to examine how critical overlap between the three can create spatial changes in the city.

    Three crucial points must be made. Firstly, reference to memory is, in most instances, to collective or group memory, while being cognisant that the boundary between individual and group memory may not always be clearly delineated. Second, understanding of memory is as recollections about the past that are flexible, temporal and fluid, and that multiple groups can have both complementary or conflicting memories; the point is that each group should have the space and liberty to remember their shared experiences in this dynamic way, and to draw upon facets of these memories for activations of their shared agency. And third, extreme configurations of memory, which do not maintain this porosity just mentioned, run the risk of creating closed, exclusionary and rigid urban landscapes.

    Two Extremes: Urban Amnesia and Nostalgia

    The literature on urban sprawl and other forms of neoliberal urban planning argues how the desire of capital to constantly demolish and rebuild urban structures deprives cities of their unique identities rooted in the collective memory of these spaces. At the heart of most of this redevelopment is a wilful amnesia, where the powers of place are neutralised by either ignoring them or removing them from history.

    Kevin Lynch (1960) uses the term ‘imageability’ to describe how truly vibrant urban places are those which have distinctly identifiable features remembered by their citizens which help them to strongly identify with the built environment around them. These landscapes of shared identity are not just important from an aesthetic or architectural point of view, but have a deep connection with the nature of transformative political agency they generate within their citizens. Uniqueness, identifiability, and a sense of place are less (not completely absent) likely to be a part of a city’s identity if its built form is continuously being transformed every few decades in a hyper accelerated manner. Furthermore, overwhelmingly similar structures being built by transnational corporations are making many cities less recognisable, thereby decreasing their imageability.

    This placelessness, rooted in an amnesiac ethos of the cycles of construction and destruction of neoliberal capital, serves to decrease the identifiable landscapes, shared spaces and recognizable boundaries in a city’s built environment, as well as completely ignore the memories, networks and solidarities which help to establish relationships between people. The politics of displacement, hence, in its uprooting of entire chunks of urban fabric, is rooted in an amnesia that denies wilfully the histories of those who have inhabited and shared these spaces.

    In Belgrade, one such mega project seeking to transform a vast tract of land without consideration of existing landscapes of memory and shared practices of its surrounding inhabitants, as well as seeking to create another generic high-rise development akin to those in East London, Manhattan, Dubai, Shanghai and Tokyo, is the Belgrade Waterfront Project. This project has drawn criticism from various groups including corruption watchdogs, planners, urbanists and residents, as well as members of the Ministry of space, who point to the lack of adequate democratic consultation in this project led by the Abu Dhabi based developer Eagle Hills. With its mix of a 200 meter glass tower, grand shopping mall, and luxury condos, the redevelopment, which can justifiably be called amnesiac, seeks to create a cityscape that stands in stark contrast to the surrounding spatial forms, impeccably similar to other modern, mega cities.

    In response to these incursions, an opposing, but equally objectionable extreme of nostalgic reification of past modes of life has emerged in current popular discourses of memory in Serbia. As Jessica Greenberg (2011) writes, the traumatic experiences of Serbia’s recent violent history have created a longing for the restoration of a historically specific form of citizen agency, which in many cases is wholly imagined.

    For those who have lived under the turbulent events of the 90s and have subsequently been disappointed by the post-Milosevic transformations, the memory of a utopian past with a stable, paternalistic state and an internationally respected socialist Yugoslavia looms large on their current understanding of urban life and the place occupied by citizen agency. These discourses centred around nostalgia create contemporary conditions of despair and hopelessness, and hence, inhibit meaningful political action and transformative agency. Such notions of powerlessness can have profound impacts on the built form of the city, and the vibrancy of its public spaces, especially in the amount of cultural production in cities. Young people refer to the ‘good life’ that their parents or elder siblings had experienced under socialism and profess that all they want is a return to normalcy, marked by stability and predictability.

    The second problem with this extremely nostalgic rendering of urban memory is that it leads to the production of exclusionary landscapes of corporate preservationism which limit a fluid and dynamic understanding of the past and of the multifaceted memories of shared belonging. On the one hand, this obsession leads to the transformation of nostalgia into a marketable good, what some scholars have termed a ‘nostalgia industry’, whereby many citizens become tourists in their own city, relegated to the status of consumers of memory rather than active producers. On the other hand, it is also important to note whose memory is being preserved and for what end. It is much more likely that the residences and political and cultural landscapes of the elite will be preserved rather than the ordinary dwellings, workplaces or community centers of less influential groups. The desire to attract tourism, capital and consumer dollars creates a reactionary appropriation of place and memory which serves to legitimise rigid, nationalistic and exclusionary narratives of memory, and serves to pacify potentially disruptive place memory by succumbing to idealised versions of the past.

    The Importance of Place in Memory and Collective Agency

    It is pertinent to establish the importance of a nuanced understanding of place as one of the necessary foundations of a progressive activism and its connection to memory. As established earlier, extreme understandings of memory and place can produce xenophobic ideologies which render those outside of its fixed territorial boundaries as incapable of possessing a common understanding and past required for constructive political action. Instead, a critical politics of place must perceive memory as something lived viscerally, and hence dynamic in its very definition. It should seek to find ways of different groups being able to share and incorporate their memories in multifaceted ways within the places that they collectively utilise and occupy for political action.

    The concept of porosity is especially relevant in this regard. Porous spatial landscapes are those which acknowledge the evolution of spaces and places through time, and seek not to completely eradicate the memories of those places, nor to associate them exclusively with singular and nostalgic narratives of memory, ultimately allowing the past to coexist along the present. This temporal dimension to understanding place and memory becomes crucial to a critical place based activism and ultimately to the spatial outlook of the city.

    Within this context, one of the foremost examples of built structures which produce such renderings of memory and are conducive sites for a progressive place based activism, are the myriad structures seemingly built for obsolescence that have been repurposed for various usages that often time subvert or exceed their creator’s original intentions. The case of mobile gardens, such as Prinzessinnengarten in Berlin and Eco-Interstice in Paris, and that of Sylvian Island are some examples of where memories of previous use have been combined with current needs to create alternative spaces which provide a shared habitat for various different groups in the city. Such porous landscapes are now also taking shape in Belgrade.

    Savamala, The Ministry of Space and Interstitial Urbanism

    The tumultuous urban landscape of Belgrade, violently demolished and built many times over, planned under the modernist paradigms of Socialist urban design, and now exposed to the fluctuations and cyclical transformations of neoliberal capital, has resulted in a myriad of empty buildings, derelict spaces and unused structures. These left over spaces are visual representations of memories that have been left behind, the changes that have taken place, and the neglect and amnesia of state planning. Yet, they also present a unique opportunity for a creative form of citizen agency that uses these memories to create a counter narrative of use, memory and spatial design. The Savamala district in Belgrade, a neglected industrial area behind Belgrade’s central station, has become the frontrunner in creating such alternative cultural landscapes.

    Within Savamala there is an abundance of leftover spaces, many of which have a history of being high end art nouveau mansions, others which were factories and workshops built after the Second World War when the area began to house industrial workers. Hence, to begin with, these abandoned structures represent an entire spectrum of use and identity. The burgeoning creative cultural activism in Savamala, a response in part to the paradoxes of the abundance of luxury housing and shopping malls on the one hand and the lack of sufficient space for cultural and artistic production on the other, has incorporated these multiplicity of memories within their current use of space, and has repurposed them to provide breathing space for collective, dynamic citizen agency.

    At the heart of many of these initiatives is the memory of pre-turmoil Yugoslavia, whose urban centres were greatly associated with the arts and culture and were frequented by tourists from all over Europe. However, instead of letting the downward slope of Yugoslavia’s international status and internal political and cultural landscape create hopeless narratives of nostalgia, these activists have channelled these memories in a forward looking and critical manner as a means to send clear messages about their disagreement with the current exclusionary, investor-led urban planning paradigm. This activism has generated a new spatial outlook for the area, refurbishing old structures to create colourful, multipurpose centres conducive to debate, critical art, theatre, dance and shared experiences.

    Part of this new network of cultural activists, are the founders of the Ministry of Space. Born out of the aforementioned struggles resultant from a lack of spaces for cultural production, the movement has expanded to draw upon the abysmal state of public goods and services in the city, such as the inadequate provision of water, housing and the commercialisation of public spaces. In 2010, the Ministry began its journey by creating the Street Gallery, which is considered to be one of the main commercial passages in the city. A grim, dark urban urinal was transformed into a public gallery, a nine panel space that exhibited various types of large-format artworks. The entire process, from the first illegal exhibition, to the official opening in 2012, took two years of collective effort and political negotiations.

    Similar to the Street Gallery, the Ministry undertook the repurposement of an abandoned former film studio located in a suburb of Belgrade called Karaburma, a project that came to be known as Expedition Inex Film (EIF). The building, which had no doors, windows, floors or furniture, was occupied by a total of 40 activists, and completely repurposed into a multifunctional cultural hub, and today contains several art studios, a gallery, a dance studio and a contemporary circus. This endeavour was a direct attack against the shutdown of various state cultural institutions, including over a dozen cinemas, as well a reduction in cultural spending in the city budget. By Repurposing an old cultural hub into a new, more diverse, multi-use creative venue, the memory of this leftover space has been used in a nuanced way to create a progressive shared space for urban activists and welcomes people from various walks of life.

    It is important also to note that the Ministry seeks to make no claims of being apolitical or only restricted to the realm of culture, which in itself are inextricably linked. By creating new micro spaces for alternative modes of urbanism, they seek to send a broader message of discontent against the shape that their city is taking. In a recent interview, one of the founders explained how this fight is connected to broader struggles against undemocratic privatization and state corruption. It is also a struggle to create spaces conducive to developing narratives of solidarity. Their mode of activism challenges existing paradigms of spatial planning both in their subversion of current use of space, as well as in more overt, political manners. For this reason, they have also been actively involved in the ‘Let’s Not Drown Belgrade’ movement, which has been vociferously protesting against the Belgrade Waterfront Project.

    In response to the closure of 14 cinemas in Belgrade, among other aforementioned neglect of cultural spaces, the Ministry initiated the Project Cinemas: The Written Off Return, which is a series of site specific urban interventions that ultimately resulted in the occupation of one of these abandoned cinemas. While occupying the space, the Ministry simultaneously carried out public protests, as well undertook legal measures to create awareness and accountability for the lack of state attention toward shared public spaces. Some of the cinemas have been sold off to investors who want to convert them into more lucrative ventures such as supermarkets and casinos, demonstrating how the power of capital has been exacerbating the decrease in open public spaces. This destruction of the cultural fabric has been challenged by using a place based approach that uses the memory of these sites in a complex manner to ask critical questions about the present and future spatial design of the city. In the short run, it has had an immediate impact on the use of space and the revival and rejuvenation of worn out and seemingly obsolete built structures. In the long run, it has created new networks, collectivites and possibilities for the city.

    Conclusion: Memory and the Possible City

    These new forms of interstitial urbanism represent a critical challenge toward how planners, city governments and private capital are impacting the spatial design of the city. By blurring the line between legal and illegal use, occupying spaces, creating modes of self-management, highlighting the value of culture, place and identity, as well as the neglect of the state toward the provision of public goods, they are creating new hope in spheres of dereliction.

    They are also using memories of past modes of collective action to develop networks of solidarity and collective participation in urban problems. Some of the groups engaged in this new cultural activism, including the Ministry, are using the memory of the motto of the former state of Yugoslavia, ‘brotherhood and unity’, to rejuvenate cultural activism within the city. Through these interventions, they are not just activating shared political action, but are displaying alternative ways of providing and sharing public goods and services. Within these spaces, the normal binaries of everyday identities are suspended, and groups representing the homeless, women, independent artists, students and other concerned agents come together to physical rebuild, and symbolically reconceptualise neglected parts of their city.

    There is great potential within an embodied and emplaced memory to inform our capacity for political action, especially when it is unbidden by strict temporal and spatial rigidities. In this manner, it can disrupt linear narratives of politics, culture and space which seek to link places to particular memories of particular groups, which in turn affects the possibilities for creating and visualising new usages of space in the city.

     

    Datum objavljivanja: 27.06.2017.

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