bbb 2002 >> idea

The Balkans are Different

"Balkan (turk. Mountain), bulg. Stara planina, in the Alterum Haemus, Mountain range in SE-Europe (in Betew. 2376m), length 600km, width 21-45km. The Balkan is a young tertiary Mountain Range, runs in parallel chains in a northwardly open bow from the Danube underneath the Iron Gate into the Black Sea"

Brockhaus 1988

"Black Box: scientific methodology. Cybernetic system (technology, information processing, social science, biology), of which the inner makeup is unknown or irrelevant to a comparative study (black box method)"

Brockhaus 1988

The Balkans - what a stereotype! Strange peoples with long lasting animosities, wars which are hard to understand, if they can be understood at all. This is one side of the coin. The other side includes Ćevapčići, Šlivovica and gypsy music - exotic things which are hard to understand as well. They are not just for the tourist but also for the educated western European: in the books of Ivo Andrićs, the music of Goran Bregovićs, in concerts of Bulgarian choirs and in the films of Emir Kusturica. Amen.

Amen? Four years ago a group of Berlin based Jugovići (children of guestworkers), refugees, anti-war volunteers, and other people connected to the Balkans for different biographical reasons, started to present an entirely different Balkan. The first balkan black box Berlin Festival brought together film, literature, performance and music from the former Yugoslavia - things which no one in this part of Europe would associate.

Trash, Noise, Avantgarde, Techno from Zagreb, Sarajevo, Mostar, Belgrade - the other Balkans were well received in the year of the Kosovo war. During the NATO bombardments of Yugoslavia the Balkan black box team supplemented the cultural program with topical panels and discussions, in which sometimes more than opinions clashed. It became clear, that the Balkan black box network united a substantial amount of knowledge - knowledge about Balkans which has not appeared and still is absent in the stereotypical mainstream discussion.

With the balkan black box Festivals 2000 and 2001 the organisers, again, focussed on the other Balkan. However, some more stereotypical features were also included: most notably the (Roma-) Orkestar Fejad Sejdić became the mascot and heart piece of last year's festival.

Nevertheless the Balkan black box festival 2002 brings a drive back to reality. The headliners in the music program of B4 - the Serbian/Montenegrin singer and guitarist Rambo Amadeus and the performance- and sound system Alternativa Nova from Bosnia are icons of the other Balkans: They have little to do with the opaque orient and Untza-Untza - but all the more with the actual hardships of life at the edge of Europe.

The literature programme from the Balkans will again be a centre piece of the festival. Young authors from Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as Serbia will show the differences of the Balkan countries, but also document that, all the more, they are building an integrated and connected literary environment. Beside different forms of expression - reading, performance, discussions - the writers will shed light on how the desintegration of Yugoslavia impacted on a common cultural identity and language which connects artists and audiences. This issue includes the question what divides the people of the former Yugoslavia today - within their former country and here "in exile".

Another focus of balkan black box 2002 will be a large section of recent film productions. Besides independent low budget documentaries, features and short films, a few large productions from the former Yugoslavia will be presented. We show, among others, the recent Serbian box office success _"Absolute Hundred"_ of the young director Srdan Golubovic. For details, see our _detailed film program_.

One of the most important features of the black box approach are panels and discussions. As a supplement of the radical-subjectivist views, which the artists relay in their productions, panels and discussions are building a contentual framework which brings the festival guests together. Not less subjectivist than the art itself, topics of the discussions include the metaphorical "common language" (literature) and the "Balkan Saga" which has been relayed by the media and politics throughout the last decade (Yugoslavia - the avoidable war).

The special ingredient of the Balkan black box festival are deliberate, spontaneous and unpredictable encounters. They can take place at the traditional Sunday Festival-Brunch, on parties, or during a typical Balkanic Cafe-hopping. These opportunities have in the past often been the beginning of great friendships and co-operations.

balkan black box Berlin 2002 will not only prove once more, that the Balkans are different - Berlin-based Balkanians and balkanian Berliners will examine the transformations in the former Yugoslavia and their effects on identities in entirely different ways. Conscious of the fact that the Balkans are not hundreds or thousands of kilometres away but have their place right here in our city. Further conscious of the fact that nothing happens there without effecting things here. And the other way round. Or simply:

The Balkans is us.

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