Art Interventions – The Return of the Gastarbeiters

Art Interventions – The Return of the Gastarbeiters

22.7-10.8.2008 
Location: Požarevac, Eastern Serbia 

Media: all media 

Organizers: KUD “Art Klub”, Kucevo 

Partners: Serbian Ministry of Diaspora, Požarevac Cultural Center, Citizens of Europe, Berlin, Neocom, Vienna 

Colloquium description: 
The subject of the colloquium is returning guest workers from Europe to Eastern Serbia and their influence on the local economy, politics, culture and environment.
It will consist of: 
– 3-week field research by students of the anthropology department of the Philosophical faculty 
of Belgrade University 
– a week long seminar that will include lecture on the history of the area and its current 
situation, on the subject of returning economical immigration and on engaged art and art in 
public space 
– a 2-week artist’s workshop in which will participate 20 artists, 10 Serb and 10 international, 
– 3- week exhibition in Požarevac 
– Seminar and presentation in Belgrade 
The artists will work and exhibit in public spaces in order to allow maximum communication with the returning immigrants and the population that stayed behind. The documentation of interviews with returning immigrants and decision makers done as part of the pre-colloquia research, students’ research, the lectures given in the seminars and the artists work will be collected in catalogues and presented in Belgrade to create a reaction on a national level. 

Concept: 
The area of Eastern Serbia is a traditionally poor agricultural area and therefore had much immigration to different developed countries. Now many immigrants are returning with their interpretation of the experience they have got in the West which often deteriorates to corruption, nationalism, nouveau riche culture and lack of respect to the environment. Since the area is dependent on that income there is no public debate on the phenomenon and no directives, no regulations or laws regarding these issues. 
The relation between the immigrants – host community distinctly affects the relation immigrants – home community but there is an agreement of silence between the home community and immigrants to keep these worlds apart. When in Serbia they very rarely talk about their experiences and difficulties abroad. In that way they maintain an illusion that they do not really work abroad and conceal their real status their and assert the powerful image of the patron and their status of power. 
Consequently, people in these areas talk about people who “have money” or “do not have money” but never about working for money. That money is either “given or not given” to them as reward or punishment for how they behave, again without any relation to work. To fulfill their side of the bargain the local community plays the role of an obedient, respectful, needy kin which makes them even more helpless and lacking initiative. This project will raise taboo in the public of discussing these issues and pressure public institution to create regulation concerning the disturbing aspects of the phenomenon.

Leone Contini’s art intervention in Požarevac, Serbia

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