It was funded by Förderung aus Mitteln der Kulturstiftung des Bundes and organized in collaboration with Kunsthalle Fridericianum Kassel.
For more than one year, from October 2002 to December 2003 < rotor > association for contemporary Graz became the Balkan Konsulat. Project Balkan Konsulat, consisted of a series of 6 exhibitions, featuring the art scenes of Belgrade, Prague, Istanbul, Budapest, Sarajevo and St. Petersburg as special guests, in the year when Graz was the Culture Capital of Europe. Invited young curators from those cities (Stevan Vukovic, Olesya Turkina, Michal Kolacek, Erden Kosova and Basak Senova, Judit Angel and Lejla Hodzic) involved in the development of contemporary art in their environment, composed multi-layered projects for Graz. Apart from the presentation of visual arts in the
What makes this project different from the recent series of exhibitions which explore the thematic of the Balkans is that the Balkan Konsulat project went further in playing with the notion of the Balkans. While other exhibitions were searching for the Balkans in that specific geographical and cultural point, where western view usually expects to see images, or 'ghosts' of the Balkans, the 'black hole' of the Europe, the curatorial team which made a conception of the Balkan Konsulat (Margarethe Makovec, Anton Lederer and Lejla Hodzic) decided to play with the relativity of the borders which define the Balkans. Where do the Balkans start, where do they end? It is not easy to trace the Balkans’ borders. The attempt to locate its mentality leads to never-ending discussions. Every country interprets the "Balkans" differently. From a German perspective, they start in Austria, from there in Slovenia, from Slovenia in Croatia, from Croatia in Serbia etc. Balkans is always somewhere else, there where our view does not reach, or like philosopher Slavoj Zizek says: „The Balkans are always the Other."
That is the reason why in the frame of the Balkan Konsulat it was possible to find, on the first site, a bizarre choice of the cities whose art scenes were presented, cities which from a geographical point of view cannot be considered as a part of the Balkans. Besides Belgrade, Sarajevo and Istanbul, as a typical Balkan capitals, in the frame of Balkan Konsulat the art scenes of Prague, Budapest and St. Petersburg were presented. (In the original concept of the project it was planed to feature Vienna and its art scene, as the last exhibition in a series of seven. But, during 2003 unfortunately it became clear that the realisation of this Vienna exhibition would not be possible due to the financial difficulties in which
The other specific of the Balkan Konsulat is in its approach to curatorial practice. Balkan Konsulat is in fact a continuation of
Similarly, to the unexpected choice of 'balkan' cities, presentations of specific art scenes in the frame of the Balkan Konsulat projects, were always what was expected. Michal Kolacek presenting the Prague art scene featured artists from Poland, Germany, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The intention of the Sarajevo part of the Balkan Konsulat project, was to present this new art scene which developed after the war, including Bosnian artists living in the country or abroad whose works reflected the social and political situation, and artists from the region who are connected in different ways with Sarajevo, both influencing the scene and influenced by it. The creation of this new scene is closely connected to the activity of the Sarajevo Center for Contemporary Arts, founded in 1997. The works of the artists presented at the exhibition deal with different issues which were at the same time specific for the country and its experience of war as well as being relevant on a global level considering problems such as; displacement and notion of a home (Sejla Kameric, Sarajevo; Lala Rascic, Sarajevo/Amsterdam); consequences of the war (Vanda Vukicevic, Sarajevo/London); closeness and fear of death (Aleksandra Vajd, Maribor/Prague); fears and feelings caused by living in urban surroundings (Danica Dakic, Sarajevo/Dusseldorf); isolation and impossibility to integrate to the domestic (Slaven Tolj, Dubrovnik) or foreign (Kristina Leko, Zagreb) society. An archive presented in the Balkan Konsulat's café comprised a selection of video works, films, catalogues, and artist's documentation from and about Sarajevo.
Beside the exhibition in < rotor > gallery space, a group of young graphic designers intervened in the Celery space of the, representing another characteristic of new artistic practice in Sarajevo - coming out from the art institutions to the public spaces and creating a direct contact with the wider public. Their graphic works were realized on everyday objects used in the restaurant, for example the plates. Dubioza Kolektiv, who performed a live act on the day of the exhibition opening, represented the Sarajevo music scene. They create a music which combines traditional ethno with contemporary electronic sounds. In October a selection of videos from Sarajevo was shown at the Mediathek Graz.
In a similar way to the Sarajevo exhibition, which was exploring post war problems in Bosnia through the works of artists from other countries, the Balkan Konsulat project explored problems of Balkans in a different way, changing the essential cliché image, of the Balkans.