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KONTRAPUNKT – Saopštenje za javnost povodom prestanka rada Kontekst galerije

Public Support Letters

After the realization of the last program in the Kontekst Gallery, on November the 13th, 2010, Kontekst team informed the public about its decision to end the project Kontekst Gallery and continue its work through Kontekst platform only. In the issued press release the reasons of ceasing the work of Kontekst Gallery in the Cultural Centre “Stari Grad”: “After March 2010 and the establishment of Cultural Institution “Parobrod” – which took over the function and the public space of the Municipal Cultural Center “Stari grad”; and due to various pressures in the form of an official demand to vacate the working facilities, as well as the refusal of communication by the new management – we made a decision to end our work in this space. However, our decision to close Kontekst gallery is to a grater extent caused by our disagreement with the policy of the new cultural institution. This policy is only a symptom of the new cultural policy in Serbia in which culture is conceived as an instrument in the process of European integration, nominal implementation of human rights and tolerance, as well as the process of culturalization of society in order to create apolitical subjects for the dominant ideology – while structurally and systematically retrograde social values such as: nationalism, clero-fascism, hegemony of patriarchal matrix, intolerance towards all kinds of otherness etc., are still being reproduced.”

 

As a reaction to this press release Građanske inicijative (Civic Initiatives) issued a press release supporting Kontekst Gallery stating that “Civic Initiatives are supporting the decision, future work and activities of Kontekst Gallery and are calling other civil society’s organizations as well as institutions of culture to do the same.”

The public reaction titled “Space for political party’s youth” by an artist Darinka Pop-Mitić and a theoretician Svebor Midžić followed. Besides other, it was said that “the city authorities and right wing organizations obviously agree that contemporary arts is something that should be on margin and should have its place in ghetto. Instead of art exhibitions, visual arts program of the new institution of culture will be filled with the exhibiting activities of political party’s youth as well as with tame and appropriate topics such as ecology and incorrect parking. There, where were previously contemporary arts, now will be ecological light bulb.”

Walking Theory, a platform for theory and practice of performing arts issued an open letter to the City Secretariat for Culture protesting harshly against “the way and reasons because of which Kontekst Gallery stopped to work” within the institution of culture Parobrod. It was stated that “such displacing of those who have been for years constituting, not only locally but also regionally and internationally recognized cultural production of Belgrade can not be accepted and it represents part of the broader negative principle of local transition in culture that must be recognized and suppressed…We appeal the City Secretariat for Culture to reflect about the historical moment in which Serbia is in the time of transition, the moment when socialist cultural-political model is not entirely suspended and new and neo-liberal capitalist is still not established. This moment is unique because it opens the possibility to achieve social consensus about art as public good, and thus obstruct that it is thrown on the marked as a commodity.”

Škart, Dah Theatre, Grup Monument, Working group  Four faces of Omarska, artist Milica Tomić and Women in Black sent an appeal to the City Secretariat for Culture to “recognize the importance of the work of Kontekst Gallery and demanded that the Secretariat offers to the gallery concrete support providing it with an alternative space for work as there are many such spaces in this city and they are often not in usage or abandoned….We think that destruction of the Cultural Centre “Stari Grad” and Kontekst Gallery – that have been for many years regionally and internationally recognized on the basis of their cultural production in order to constitute party political institution of culture Parobrod is bad and unacceptable. Of course, for us it is not a secret that this is a consequence of new cultural politics, that departs from the market as a place for self-regulation of the need for the products of culture and thus from the profit based on cultural production. But art is not commodity on the market but it is a public good and its value can not be estimated on the basis of commercial success. Contemporary arts will of course loose the battle with the more profitable fields of cultural industry. We expect the  City Secretariat for Culture to demonstrate more understanding when it comes to the further development of contemporary arts.”

STATION service for contemporary dance Belgrade, appeal that the City Secretariat for Culture should find space for the work of the organization Kontekst in which the programs of the association would be organized continually and smoothly. In the letter it is put that “In the time of transition when this type of critical reflection in culture is in every way being suspended on one hand, and on the other the model of entertaining artistic production is pushed, the work of the Kontekst Gallery and similar organizations is of the key importance for the development of Serbian society. Public space for dialogue is necessary basis for the development of Serbian society and organizations that work on providing such public space should be supported not closed down…As responsible and as most important strategic partner of the civil sector in culture, we are addressing you and asking to, in dialogue with Kontekst team, find the solution and thus demonstrate understanding for the situation in which culture in Belgrade is. As further work of Kontekst within the institution Parobrod is impossible it is necessary to find urgently an adequate solution.

Open letter to the City Secretariat for Culture triggerd by the shutting down the project Kontekst Gallery was sent as well by independent artistic associations from Šabac: Stepenice (Stairsway), Assotiation Svetlost (Light) and Kolektiv (Collective) where it was stated: ”we see problems that the association Kontekst faced much more broadly, as a symptom of a new cultural politics that departs from the belief that artistic production must be profitable and competitive i.e. valorized by the laws of the market. It is clear that no space is left for the non-profit organizations that understand culture as public good. Thus, it is clear that the space contemporary arts that previously  had will be filled by commercial, profitable contents…With this open letter we want to support our colleagues from the association Kontekst but also to point out to the political actors, media and broad public in Serbia the problems that cultural institutions in Serbia face in the process of transition according to neo-liberal market model.”

An appeal for the providing working conditions to the “censored” Kontekst Gallery was formulated also by the editorial board of the magazine Prelom, magazine for theory, film, and contemporary arts where besides other it was said: “As colleagues and collaborators of the Kontekst Gallery we want to show our discontent and disagreement with ways and reasons because of which Kontekst Gallery stopped to work in the former Cultural Centre “Stari Grad”, i.e. in the present institution of culture Parobrod. We think that repressing cultural actors, that through their years long work have been developing serious and critical approach to the contemporary art practices, on the basis of ensuring the place for the “political party’s youth” of the ruling people in this municipality and development of “colorful urban landscape” of easy going, vivid and socially irrelevant topics, represents unforgivable act of marginalization of culture and its vulgar instrumentalization from the side of ruling political structures.

Kontekst Gallery is one of the most profiled initiatives for displaying and discussing works of young artists from the region – an initiative that successfully bridged the collapse of institutions such was the Center for Contemporary Arts and Yugoslavian Biennale of Young Artists. Through the persistence, self-education, critical approach to the social reality, and braveness to initiate discussion on topics that are rarely discussed (sex work, trafficking, question of nationalism in contemporary arts, etc) the team of Kontekst Gallery created unique space in the cultural-artistic scene in Belgrade. Closing down Kontekst Gallery this space will be lacking, and Parobrod with its program politics can not replace it.

Contemporary art is not commodity, nor space for easy going topics and free time activities!

Contemporary art is a space of imagination, freedom, education, critical thinking, forming of politically aware and responsible social subjects!”

Otvoreno pismo Sekretarijatu za kulturu grada Beograda

Poštovani,

kao kolege i saradnici Kontekst galerije želimo da izrazimo oštar protest protiv načina i razloga zbog kojih je Kontekst galerija prestala sa radom u bivšem Centra za kulturu “Stari Grad” a sadašnjoj Ustanovi kulture „Parobrod“. Ovakvo istiskivanje onih koji već godinama čine ne samo lokalno, već i regionalno i internacionalno prepoznatu kulturnu produkciju Beograda smatramo nedopustivim, a takođe ga vidimo i kao deo šireg negativnog principa lokalne tranzicije u kulturi koji treba prepoznati i suzbiti.

Istrajnošću, voljom za samoobrazovanjem, kritičkim pristupom društvenoj realnosti i hrabrošću u pokretanju kritičnih i slabo vidljivih tema u lokalnoj sredini (kao što su trgovina ljudima, kosovska umetnička scena itd.), tim Kontekst galerije je stvorio jedinstveno mesto na kulturno-umetničkoj sceni Beograda. Kontekst galerija je od 2006. godine bila otvoreno mesto za permanentnu i dinamičnu prezentaciju, ali i refleksiju i samorefleksiju rada mladih umetnika i savremenih kritičkih kulturno-umetničkih praksi. Zatvaranjem galerije Kontekst, ovo mesto ostaje upražnjeno, i „Parobrod“ ga sa svojom programskom politikom ne može nadomestiti.

Pozivamo gradski Sekretarijat za kulturu da pažljivo razlikuje različite umetničke prakse, kao i društvenu dobrobit od njih. Politički-korektna umetnost možda zadovoljava političke agende vladajućih partija, ali ona je, i bila i ostala, samo partijska umetnost. Trebalo je da smo važnu lekciju o tome izvukli iz «sukoba na levici» koji se odvijao na kulturnoj sceni Kraljevine Jugoslavije 1930-ih godina, no čini se da nismo.

Stoga, apelujemo na gradski Sekretarijat za kulturu da razmisli o istorijskom trenutku u kojem se nalazi Srbija u doba tranzicije, kada nasleđeni socijalistički kulturno-politički model još nije suspendovan a novi, neo-liberalno kapitalistički još nije uspostavljen. Trenutak je jedinstven jer otvara mogućnost da postignemo društveni konsenzus o umetnosti kao javnom dobru, i time sprečimo da ona bude bačena kao roba na tržište. Umetnost – ovde specifično fokusiramo savremenu umetnost – jeste javno dobro jer je prostor kritičkoj promišljanja društvene stvarnosti, istraživanja međuljudskih odnosa i projekcije budućnosti tog društva. Vrednost tog dobra se stoga ne može meriti komercijalnim uspehom, brojem publike niti zaradom od ulaznica. Bačena na slobodno tržište, savremena umetnost će neminovno izgubiti bitku sa isplativijim delatnostima kulturne industrije, kao što su dizajn, mas mediji, moda itd. Zato gradski Sekretarijat za kulturu, danas, prilikom sprovođenja novog zakona o kulturi kao i opšteg kulturno-političkog delovanja na kulturnoj sceni Beograda snosi istorijsku odgovornost za dalje usmeravanje savremene umetnosti u jednom ili drugom smeru.

Protest povodom gašenja galerije Kontekst želimo da završimo konstruktivno. S obzirom da je dalji rad Konteksta u UK „Parobrod“ nemoguć – usled nekorektnog odnosa uprave i neslaganja tima Konteksta sa njihovom politikom – zahtevamo da im se obezbedi drugi prostor. Napuštenih i zapuštenih prostora u Beogradu ima; istraživanja i sistematizacije su urađene i informacije su javno dostupne (www.javniprostori.org/ushahidi/index.php/main, www.ppstarigrad.com/zone/zone.html). Svesni smo da je pitanje samo dobre volje gradskih vlasti da te prostore, po neekonomskim cenama ustupe na korišćenje nezavisnim grupama sa savremene kulturno-umetničke scene Beograda, te pismo završavamo apelom na vašu dobru volju.

TkH (Teorija koja hoda), platforma za teoriju i praksu izvođačkih umetnosti

www.tkh-generator.net

Beograd, 22. novembar 2010.

Saopštenje za javnost povodom prestanka rada Kontekst galerije

English bellow  >>>

Poslednji program u Kontekst galeriji je održan 13. novembra 2010. godine,  čime je i završen naš rad na ovom projektu.

Kontekst galerija je zvanično otvorena 11. februara 2006. Projekat je pokrenut u okviru Foruma mladih Centra za kulturu “Stari Grad” kao pokušaj  transformacije jednog dela kulturnog centra  u prostor autonomnog obrazovanja i istraživanja u oblasti savremene vizuelne umetnosti i kulture.  Od avgusta 2007. godine, Kontekst galerija je nastavila da se razvija u okviru neprofitne platforme za savremenu umetnost i kulturu – Kontekst ali i dalje kao jedan od tekućih programa Centra za kulturu “Stari Grad”. Nakon što je u martu 2010. godine zvanično pokrenuta Ustanova kulture „Parobrod“,  koja je preuzela funkciju i prostor opštinske institucije kulture, pritisci u vidu zahteva za oslobađanjem prostora korišćenih za rad, kao i odbijanja komunikacije od strane nove uprave doprineli su donošenju naše odluke da prekinemo sa daljim radom u ovom prostoru. Odluka o prestanku rada Kontekst galerije još više je određena našim neslaganjem sa politikom  nove ustanove kulture.

Ta politika je simptom Nove kulturne politike u Srbiji u kojoj se kultura poima kao instrument  u  procesima evropskih integracija,  nominalnom sprovođenju ljudskih prava i tolerancije, kao i procesa kulturalizacije društva u cilju stvaranja apolitičnih subjekata dominantne ideologije dok se istovremeno strukturalno i sistematski reprodukuju retrogradne društvene vrednosti kao što su nacionalizam, klero-fašizam, hegemonija partijarhalne matrice, netolerisanje bilo kakve vrste drugosti, itd. Svi navedeni procesi dovode do komodifikacije i pacifizacije kulturne produkcije koji za posledicu imaju neutralizovanje njenog antagonističkog političkog potencijala. Radi se na uspostavljanju monopola nad kulturnom produkcijom i kontrolisanjem simboličkih sadržaja od strane vladajuće strukture koju predstavljaju političke partije i privatni kapital.

Rad na koncipiranju programa galerije i njegovoj realizaciji je za nas ujedno predstavljao i proces samoobrazovanja, refleksije, samokritike i promišljanja. Tokom rada i konstantnog procesa učenja i interakcije sa lokalnim i internacionalnim, umetničkim i aktivističkim scenama došle/i smo do  shvatanja našeg rada kao jedne vrste prostora za kritičko i političko delovanje kroz savremenu umetnost i kulturu. Naše stavove i programe smo  vremenom radikalizovali, u skladu sa lokalnim i globalnim političkim, ekonomskim i društvenim transformacijama, u pokušaju repolitizacije lokalne kulturne produkcije i reprodukcije onih ideja koje mogu proizvesti potencijal za stvaranje alternative dominantnoj ideologiji.

Naš rad ćemo i dalje usmeravati  u tom pravcu kroz dalje delovanje Kontekst platforme.

 

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Public announcement regarding the closure of the Kontekst Gallery project

 

The Kontekst Gallery’s last program took place on November 13th 2010, by which our work on this project ended.

Kontekst Gallery officially opened on February 11th 2006. This project was initiated within the Youth Forum of  the Cultural Centre “Stari grad”, as an attempt to transform a part of this Centre into a place of autonomous education and research in the area of contemporary visual arts and culture. From August 2007, Kontekst Gallery was being developed within the framework of a non-profit platform for contemporary art and culture – Kontekst, but still as a programme of the Cultural Center. After March 2010 and the establishment of Cultural Institution “Parobrod” – which took over the function and the public space of the Municipal Cultural Center “Stari grad”; and due to various pressures in the form of an official demand to vacate the working facilities, as well as the refusal of communication by the new management – we made a  decision to end our work in this space. However, our decision to close Kontekst gallery is to a grater extent caused by our disagreement with the policy of the new cultural institution.

This policy is only a symptom of the new cultural policy in Serbia in which culture is conceived as an instrument in the process of European integration, nominal implementation of human rights and tolerance, as well as the process of culturalization of society in order to create apolitical subjects for the dominant ideology – while structurally and systematically retrograde social values such as: nationalism, clero-fascism, hegemony of patriarchal matrix, intolerance towards all kinds of otherness etc., are still being reproduced. All of these processes lead to the commodification and pacification of cultural production that resulted in neutralization of its antagonistic political potential. Governing structures that are represented by political parties and private capital are working on creating a monopoly over cultural production and control of the symbolic content.

Our work on producing a concept of the Gallery’s programme and its realisation has been for us also a process of self-education, reflection, self-criticism and contemplation. Through  our work, constant learning process and interaction with local and international art and activist scenes, we developed an understanding of our work as a space for critical and political action through contemporary art and culture. Over time and in accordance with local and global political, economic and social transformations, our positions and programms became radicalized as an overall attempt of repoliticization of local cultural production and reproduction of those ideas that could produce a potential to create alternatives to dominant ideology.

We will go on working in that direction through our further engagement within Kontekst platform.

 

 

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