Presenters & Papers

Here is the list of confirmed participants so far. Check back regularly for updates.

 

Ksenija Berk, precarious design theorist, critic & lecturer, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Paper title:No Fear – No Führer’ – On Radical Dissent and Guerrilla Actions of Slovene Design Group Novi kolektivizem

This paper will focus on the strong anti-war posters made by the Novi Kolektivizem Group (part of Neue Slowenische Kunst Collective) in the period of 10-day war in 1991, when Slovenia gained its independence from the former Yugoslavia. It is crucial to understand the vital role of design in political processes in Europe from a decade from 1985 to 1995, a vital period of strong political development connected to anti-totalitarian ideas.

The focus on dissent posters of Novi kolektivizem will be re-articulating what are the constitutive elements that make the poster a political tool, what gives the political poster its explosive power, and how it reconnects with the experience of similar political posters from the period WWII. The Novi Kolektivizem Group re-appropriated the motive of the gazing figure with a pointed finger, otherwise known as the “Uncle Sam.” The authoritative image served as important image of recruitment propaganda of that time in both Europe and USA and soon gained the status of pop-icon. In February 2012, twenty years after the anti-war poster action, Novi Kolektivizem made another guerilla action in Ljubljana with the newly designed black and white poster with similar authoritative figure and powerful slogan: “No Fear – No Führer.” According to the authors, there is no single explanation or understanding of it. However, it certainly  puts under scrutiny the role of fear in constituting the authoritative leader figure and calls for recognition and cessation of totalitarian ideas. The pointed finger image, once emerged as a constitutive voice of governmental political propaganda, has been transferred by the design collective as a critique of governing politics.

 

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Lida Hujić, Brand Development Consultant, TFTK, London, UK

Paper title: The Second Programme Is Always the First: The Curious Legacy of Omladinski Program Radio Sarajevo 2 (1987 – 1992)

The pop cultural history of Bosnia and Herzegovina is only beginning to be documented and saved for posterity. Caught between nationalistic propaganda which sought to erase that history and the post-war onslaught of nouveau riche culture which has no reference beyond the immediate present and what many would describe as vulgar representations of ‘bling bling’ lifestyle, critical assessment is essential. This symposium provides a fantastic opportunity to look back in order to build a better heritage for the future.

The presentation will look at Sarajevo’s rich cultural scene in the 80s, following the 1984 Olympic Games, which had a huge impact in the former Yugoslavia and gave the world the like of Emir Kusturica and Goran Bregović. Out of that fertile scene came Omladinski Program, a counter-cultural grassroots movement that turned communism on its head and promoted new entrepreneurial values. Omladinski was a hub of all things forward thinking.  When Yugoslavia collapsed, Omladinski’s team became one of the strongest voices for peace.  Today, its core team are either leading figures locally or internationally, as chief executive officers of global corporations, critically acclaimed novelists, even “trailblazers”. A Facebook group of hundreds of fans across the world still remembers it fondly.

Omladinski would have celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, had it not been silenced in 1992, when Sarajevo was besieged. A number of events took place in London in collaboration with prestigious partners to mark this anniversary and keep the legacy of Omladinski Program in public consciousness:

A video parody of the type of music and culture to which Omladinski provided a cosmopolitan alternative – recorded back in the day by the famous comedians Top Lista Nadrealista, ‘starring’ former Omladinski team with the help of a famous Nadrealista and the frontman from one of the leading former Yugoslav rock bands:
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=377804035586574&set=vb.137851689612249&type=2&theater

A podcast of the radio show on the multiple award winning radio Resonance FM dedicated to Omladinski Program:

http://www.mixcloud.com/TheFirstToKnow/25th-anniversary-of-omladinski-program-radio-sarajevo-1987-1992-on-resonance-fm-clearspot-942012/

A special remix of Laibach’s Mashina B by Bosnian-born DJ Erol Sabadosh called Mashina O for the Omladinski Program birthday party, which took place at the iconic Rough Trade:

http://soundcloud.com/erolsabadosh/mashina-o-erol-sabadosh

The Balkan Locus Symposium is a great opportunity to round off the celebrations and start writing history. The talk will be based on the critically acclaimed book The First to Know: How Hipsters and Mavericks Shape the Zeitgeist, which in part documents the story of Omladinski and Sarajevo’s scene:  www.thefirsttoknow.info

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Marija Juza, Visual Communication Designer, IA Organizam (Babushke+Sintoment+UBU)

Paper title: Balkan – visual systems

Balkan is a new typeface system that consists of Latin and Cyrillic scripts. It is based on the study of a phenomenon known as Balkan sprachbund, a term used to describe neighboring languages whose sound and grammatical features have merged because of their proximity. The typeface system also represents an attempt to identify the features shared by some South Slavic languages and alphabets like Bosnian, Montenegrin, Croatian and Serbian.

We focused on the dual-literacy that characterizes Slavic peoples, many of whom use and transliterate both Latin and Cyrillic alphabets.

Historically, there were three scripts in this region: Cyrillic, Latin and Glagolitic. The use of Latin and Cyrillic typifies the former Yugoslavian countries, today’s Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Montenegro.

Historically, both scripts in this region were bearers of cultural, ethnic, religious and political identities, but their communicative and symbolic functions were often out of step just for the sake of multi-ethnicity. On the other hand, close development of languages and scripts throughout history resulted in shared properties. Today some regional languages in the Western Balkans are so similar that they can even be thought of as dialects.

The Balkan typeface system is a series of fonts that decodes Latin and Cyrillic; it demystifies, depoliticizes and reconciles them for the sake of education, tolerance and, above all, communication. Though Balkan is a “font” in the usual sense, it can also be used to translate Croatian Latin into Serbian Cyrillic and vice versa. One could therefore think of the fonts as educational software capable of reconciling discrete scripts. Like all OpenType fonts, Balkan can be expanded to include the Russian, Macedonian and Bulgarian alphabets.

Balkan Sans and Balkan Sans Stencil consist of four styles: three of them have different alignments (e.g., all uppercase characters are Latin and lowercase characters are Cyrillic), and one style consists of uppercase Cyrillic and lowercase Latin characters.

I plan to present this new type system, designed in 2012 with Nikola Djurek (Typonine), its concept and development as a way of transcending cultural barriers, and also its capacity as an educational software promoting new ways of understanding typography and typeface design.

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Akile Nazlı Kaya, Student / Designer / FAMU (Film and Television School of Academy of Performing Arts), Prague

Paper title: Works Out Of One’s Own Personal Experiences

Since my youth I had a great interest in animation. After graduating from the graphic design program at Bilkent University in Ankara, I followed my dreams and in 2005, I moved to the Czech Republic to study classical animation at Film School Zlin. Here, I had a chance to be one of the final graduates of this unique school. My first short animation film, ‘Nazli in Zlin’ (2006) was about bizarre experiences that I was going through as I was trying to adapt to life in Zlin as a Turkish girl who didn’t speak a word of Czech. Depicting this ‘lost in translation’ situation in a humorous way not only worked as a therapy for me to cope with my life, but it also helped me to find a new form of expression through film language. I realized that the obstacles I face in life are the best inspiration for my work.

My final project ‘Zlinska Polevka / Zlin Soup’ (2007) was a portrait of the city of Zlin from a humorous, yet critical, point of view. It was shown in many festivals including Annecy International Animated Film Festival and it won several awards including the Best Short Film in the 6th Green Film Festival in Seoul in 2009. Attending this local festival in Korea was a life changing experience for me. I was introduced to the term ‘green film’ and this genre showed me a new path: I realized that devoting my energy and abilities to creating films that focus on important themes such as immigration, food security and personal freedoms could prove more meaningful to me than the creation of films with mere aesthetic and visual value.

In the following years, in my master studies at Film and TV School of Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (FAMU), I completed two short films which resulted from following that very path. While ‘Gel-Git / Ebb & Tide’ (2010) was a reinterpretation of my story (being a resident in Czech Republic) through my parents’ film footage from 70s Germany, ‘Kapanım / Enclosure’ (2011) depicted my reaction against religious fanaticism. Lately, I have been working on a short documentary combined with animation concerning the importance of saving local seeds in Turkey.

In terms of Design Practice Presentation Sessions (DPPS) at the Balkan Locus Focus symposium, I would like to show some of these works and talk about how my own personal experiences inspired and helped me to find a new path as a director/animator/designer.

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Bharain Mac an Bhreithiún, Senior Lecturer in History of Design at Middlesex University, London, UK

Paper title: Narratives of Place in Balkan Graphic Design: Street Signs and Boundary Markers of Bucharest, Sarajevo and Istanbul

‘Naming is power – the creative power to call something into being, to render the invisible visible, to impart a certain character to things’ (Tuan).

This paper investigates the dynamics of Place, Geopolitics, and Graphic Design in the street signs and boundary markers of three cities in the region: Istanbul, Sarajevo and Bucharest.

Graphic design and typography encountered in street signage are fundamental to the negotiation of new place identities across the Balkans, particularly since the fall of communism and the breakup of Yugoslavia have made them the focus of new ideological narratives of place, material representations of the emotional connection to place Yi-Fu Tuan describes as topophilia, and its negative counterpart, topophobia. This paper investigates the ways in which the street sign has been manipulated to produce place identities that highlight difference within the Balkans and asks whether a visual narrative of Balkan-ness can be said to exist.

The paper begins by examining the street signs and boundary markers of Sarajevo, focusing on the role of color (green), and typography in forging both sectarian and shared identities. Attention will be paid to the traditionally Islamic use of green in negotiating not only Bosniak, but also Serb, Croat and Jewish place identities. The street signs of Bucharest also draw inspiration from cultures beyond the Balkans through their pastiche of the Parisian blue and green signage – a narrative that attempts to reconnect with the pre-communist era and to emphasize Bucharest’s 1920s moniker of Micul Paris, the Little Paris of the Balkans. It also serves to underline Romania’s geopolitical and linguistic Latinity, an approach that, along with its membership of Francophonie, serves to differentiate the country from its Slavic neighbors and its Ottoman past. Finally, the paper looks at the development of Istanbul’s urban signage and seeks out hidden references to the city’s troubled relationship with its Balkan hinterland and the persistence of the Ottoman within the urban graphic design of the Turkish Republic.

As well as dealing with questions of place, the paper aims to shed light upon the history of environmental signage as a form of visual communication in the region.

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Tina Marić, Art Historian

Paper title: KvadArt – Serbian design magazine

This presentation will focus on the magazine KvadArt, a Serbian design magazine which was published between 1994 and 2006 during the greatest general destruction of society caused by the war and the bombing of Serbia by NATO forces.

In the time of decline of general social values, economic crisis, closed frontiers and a cruel trade embargo which affected young creators the most, a prestigious magazine of high graphics and artistic and design standards was published. The magazine was a specific intellectual insurgency and an expression of the unbounded potential of artists; one specific feature of the KvadArt magazine is that those who wrote for the magazine and who published their works in it were only young Serbian professionals, both from the country and from the Diaspora, who were eager for opportunity to present and express their thoughts. The magazine covered all important events and aspects related to design and theory both in Serbia and in surrounding countries. In doing so, the KvadArt magazine not only established new content and visual standards but also affirmed a design as a creative discipline.

The KvadArt magazine was pronouncedly socially engaged, with a strong accent placed on maintaining its professional image with relation to political options, a specific feature of a contemporary design which drew inspiration for its own expression precisely from the surrounding situation. Its preciousness also lies in the fact that it represents the only printed document on the activities of Serbian designers at the end of 20th century and beginning of the 21st century.

The entire project was managed by architect and designer Radomir Vuković. Vuković was also an initiator, author, editor and publisher of a trilogy Znakovito in which he collected and presented alphabets, pictograms and logotypes of Serbian designers created in the period between 1960 and 2010. This trilogy contains over 3,000 works and is unique in the history of Serbian design.

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Jacek Mrowczyk, Graduation Project Supervisor, Bartosz Wojda (for Anna Czubilińska), MA Student, Academy of Fine Arts, Katowice, Poland

Paper title: “Hajde!” a series of maps for travelling around the Balkans

Presentation of Anna Czubilińska BA graduation project, “Hajde!”

“Hajde!” is a series of map-based guides for traveling around the Balkans. The project is focused on the eight Balkans capitals which, despite globalization, have not been widely described in travel literature. The form of separate map-guides for each of the cities gives the traveler a choice; they are not forced to buy heavy books, uncomfortable to read while traveling.

The locations worth visiting are marked on the map. One can learn more about them by reading a short text on the side. Additionally, each map has a short dictionary for basic vocabulary and phrases in the relevant language. Descriptions of the most interesting sights, a collection of festivals, and regular event happening in capital city are detailed.

“Hajde!” is a sort of compendium of knowledge on each of the cities. The maps are only an attempt to present the cities from various angles. They do not force any solutions on tourists.

Sadly, due to the fact that Anna died in January 2012, this presentation will be given by Jacek Mrowczyk (graduation project supervisor) and Bartosz Wojda (friend). Presentation will be divided into two parts which will show Anna’s project from two different perspectives.

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Silvia Posavec, Student / Designer, Staatliche Hochschule für Gestaltung Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe, Germany

Paper title: Orphan art

My research is about the National Gallery in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, a state institution which closed its doors to the public in September 2011.

The closing can be traced back to the unresolved status of seven centers of culture in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Due to the national budget problems even 15 years after the war in former Yugoslavia, there was no reliable financial plan for maintaining these institutions of (originally) national importance. This apparently structural problem had drastic implications, if its impact on all cultural activities in the country aiming to develop a versatile and strong cultural scene were considered.

What happens if there is no money for culture? Is it just some canvases that are not accessible anymore? Or is it more that gets lost along the way?

My project is an initiative for culture itself and all creative fields emerging from it. By means of the actual case in Sarajevo, I am examining and documenting the circumstances of such a dramatic development as described above. At the same time I am challenging the scope of duties of all involved fields. Beginning with the responsible politicians, the public itself, and the management of cultural institutions including the creative body, such as curators, artist and designers. Given that the core issues lead back to the peace agreement of 1996 (Dayton), on a meta-level the conflict stands for the ‘false state’ of Bosnia and Herzegovina itself.

Confronted with a society struggling to keep pace with its capitalist and consumerist realities, the communication designer has to adapt his/her work to a broader field. He/she has to understand the mechanism at work in order to embrace his/her responsibility. Accordingly, the designer has the opportunity to become a ‘cultural designer;’ a key figure, working between business companies and cultural institutions. The designer makes communication processes intelligible to all, and with transparency comes trust, with trust comes change?

I am discussing the situation and how it presented itself six months after the closing of the National Gallery in February 2012. In several interviews with the remaining staff, independent persons engaged in the cultural sector, and artists from Sarajevo. The results will be shown in an exhibition in the context of my graduation from the Academy of Arts and Design in Karlsruhe, Germany.

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Vahida Ramujkic, Freelance artist, practitioner, designer, educator

Paper title: Disputed Histories

The shift of official historical narratives that took place in former Yugoslavia (and other parts of the world) at the end of the twentieth century shook our very idea of historical truth, showing that religion, nation, ideals, statehood, and even personal identity are not given by God (or nature) but are subject to variations and transformations.

Disputed Histories Library:

‘Disputed Histories’ is a collection of history textbooks issued on the territory of former Yugoslavia (divided in 7 new nation states since the 1990s). At the moment (and still in the making) Disputed Histories Library counts over 150 textbooks and is accessible to the public. Aim of this initiative is to introduce local audience to less known history curricula that have been used, or are still in use in the educational programs of the neighboring states. In this way, it is hoped that a wider awareness of the mechanism employed in the construction of official historic narratives in the region will be offered. The collection itself can in fact be consulted in various public venues.

http://www.irational.org/vahida/history/

Disputed Histories Workshops:

Disputed Histories Library gave way to the organization of a series of workshops, in which different official historical narratives from different parts of the former Yugoslav region and periods, are compared. The workshops address the visual, linguistic and literary aspects of selected materials, which are under scrutiny by the workshop participants.

A key methodological decision was to work with non-professionals in the history context, that is with the general public, particularly, with students from art/design and/or social studies background. This audience, taking into consideration their own experience (themselves being subject to frequent change of local official history narratives), can consider themselves eligible or experts for treating the subject.

Each workshop results in a booklet where historic narratives (related to the same historic event or fact) from different textbooks are been translated (if necessary) and/or commented, and assembled through the technique of collage, leaving the final conclusion to be made by the readers. Workshop participants make use of a photocopy machine to copy and put together original material (drawings, writings, etc ) from the textbooks to create a new zine-like booklet. By using the technique of assemblage a new content and meaning is been created. When the workshop is finished, the booklet is ready for multiplication and distribution.

Until now, four workshops have been held in Banja Luka (BIH), Berlin, and in Belgrade. So far three booklets have been produced, the most recent of which is:

Hysterias, Spaport Biennale, Banja Luka:

http://www.irational.org/vahida/history/spaport/

 

Expulsions and Migrations, Raumshiff Yugoslavia, NGBK, Berlin:

http://www.irational.org/vahida/history/ngbk/

 

False Truths (Istina/E vertëta), 52 October Slon, Museum of Yugoslav History, Belgrade:

http://www.irational.org/vahida/history/oktobarski/

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Jelena Tamindzija, MA Student, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia

Paper title: Political Poster design: Making of identity

Identity is rooted in history, aiming to interpret its facts by emphasizing an aspirational discourse. We shall observe the realization of these aims through the visual language of political posters, with special consideration of the usage of history in the construction of ‘actuality.’

The question of identity, which had to be shaped and served to the recently created nation, was brought up as Croatia became a modern new country. According to sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, a nation, as an imaginary entity, accepts an identity imposed as an obligation on all the citizens of the territorial sovereignty. The idea of identity as such is not a self-explanatory life fact, since fiction, which permeates modern people’s lives, is created around it. Taking as example a selection of posters which follow government elections in the new country, it is important to notice the symbols with which they play and the ways in which they tend to subtly imply meanings. An important point of reference is history, which serves as a fundamental myth for the creation of a new world. However, history is not based on the residue of served facts; the desired objectivity is always in the middle of a possible interpretation and the chosen one. Bauman connects the identification process with history which emphasizes self-redefinition and personal history (re)invention: “Identities float in the air, we have chosen some on our own, but some were inflated and set free by others, and one should always be careful and defend the first ones from the second ones…

National identity is defined through the individual embracing of an identity and the collective assumption of its manifestations. Emotions, shaped as universal values with which one is born (nationalism, love for the other) are highly emphasized. In that way, individual emotions are collectivized into the creation of an us feeling which functions as a link in the making of individuals with a collective “us” identity – the citizens. The poster slogans aim at the collective identity by simplifying the political reality into short phrases which depict a different reality, the aspired one presented as a promise of the time which is to come.

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Johannis Tsoumas, Lecturer, T.E.I. of Athens / Hellenic Open University, Athens, Greece

Paper title: The post-war middle class Greek family through the female forms of advertising (1950-1970)

This research aims to capture the value of the first mass-produced women’s magazines advertising in post-war Greece regarding the identification and analysis of the middle class Greek family ideal.

With the help of rich and unexplored material of that era found in photo albums, folklore and museums, and by looking at the political, economic and social history of the country, we will initially attempt to capture the real characteristics of the urban Greek family, in the way they were reshaped after the end of the destructive World War II.

We will then explore the grounds on which the print advertising in the country seemed to be drastically affected by the U.S. advertising standards which dominated the global landscape of post-war trade. Through this mythical practice we will discover that the post-war Greek family started to imitate and reproduce a stereotype in which it was not involved – at all – in reality. The presentation of mother / wife / homemaker, the role of father / husband, as well as the sophisticated image of children seemed not merely to abstain from the daily routine of the average Greek family image, but to oppose to it, both aesthetically and practically.

But how did the – mostly – female readership take the fabulous display of the ‘new Greek family’ which was based on American standards, and what were the final effects of this type of advertising on the post-war, average Greek family’s consumption behavior? Did it work effectively or did it simply constituted a comical and silly manner which endangered new products consumption? All these questions will be answered with the help of photographic/advertising material found in many women’s magazines of the era, and some valuable, though small in volume, literature.