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BLOG REZIME: SHARP THOUGHTS Strategije i taktike nezavisne scene

Sharp thoughts is a form of public debate, with a concept dedicated to clarifying debatable notions. Discussion is led by two participants with pre-prepared, clear and precise theses. After three rounds of presenting them, the participants invite the audience to ask questions. A debate lasts for about 45min. The format has been conceived by Ana Vujanović, and it had its first trial at Deschooling Classroom during the first summer school at Ohrid.

Sharp Thoughts over the question: “Does independent scene need strategies or tactics?” was led by Marijana Cvetković and Jelena Vesić.

In her first respond, Marijana Cvetković made a short introduction on the development of what is nowadays known as independent scene. She talked about the connection between alternative artistic praxes in the region of ex-Yugoslavia, and the antiwar actions that those groups carried out during the nineties, amid flourishing national states and nationalist systems. After that, she talked about how “turbo-capitalism” forced its way into the newly formed national states, defining thus the conditions in which the independent cultural and artistic scenes nowadays function.

According to her opinion, the first relevant strategy was the decision of those scenes to organize their participants into various forms of networks, platforms, collectives and plenums. She illustrated her opinion with the example of Asocijacija from Ljubljana, the network Clubture, Nomad dance academy, Independent Cultural Scene of Serbia, and Other scene, which has recently been reorganized in a form of plenum. Marijana Cvetković sees the decision to unite as a strategy dedicated to work, to knowledge, and to resources fusion. “All the participants realized that a decision to organize their artistic praxes outside the cultural policy would mean depriving them of visibility”, she stated.

As another strategy, she singled out the strategy of public advocacy, which has sprung out of the need to change the habit of lobbying, decision-making based on political party adherence or nepotism, typical for our societies. She stated that this strategy represent a liberating concept that has originated from independent scene.

As the third strategy, she mentioned the strategy of self-education, saying that it simultaneously develops knowledge and questions its classification, as it affects the processes connected to market and capital.  Additional reason why she recognized the strategy of self-education as important, is that it represents a counter-balance to unusual educational practices firmly set at universities of art, which she illustrated with a concept “doctor in area of art”, while expressing her scepticism regarding the relevancy of degrees obtained in that particular area.

Jelena Vesić answered that, what she recognizes as a strategy, is the acting of independent scene participants towards cultural policies. She stated that the one who is producing contents (which, in this case is cultural or artistic) cares about the production framework and is trying to change it. … She explained that a scene’s independence means, basically, independence from state apparatus, and concluded that compared to decision-making process based on nepotism, which is widely practiced in the state cultural institutions, independent scene is trying to act within a more transparent frame. She emphasized that terms “strategy” and “practice” imply a set of manoeuvres, and that it is interesting that they belong to military terminology.  She stated that “strategy” implies an action which is meant to have a long-term goal. On the other hand, she said that “tactics” meant acting in present circumstances, and then she posed the key question: what makes independent scene independent? “The very term implies autonomy of a sort, but if we had defined that the independence means independence from the state apparatus, one cannot but ask which apparatus determines our thinking? Is it the state or a super-state one?” Then she clarified, “To put it more clearly, is that the apparatus of the EU?” … Upon asking this question, Jelena Vesić advanced the theses that independent scene is not even politically independent from the super-state apparatus. She said that what EU wants is a sector of dynamic cultural workers as they are more economical and capable of reducing the costs of labour which is typical of huge populous cultural institutions.  “While opening the road towards independence, we are hastening towards dependency”, she said.

Marijana Cvetković tried to define independence through its wish to be independent, and she explained the wish by stating that it is a push which the scenes get from art and culture. Doing various and specific aesthetics and practices, cultural workers feel the need to be recognized as independent. That is specific of culture. “Culture”, Cvetković said, “can never be seen as a mere service for putting through the EU decisions.” She named the organizations which protect human rights or environment, and compared them to NGOs that deal with art and culture, concluding that independent scene’s independence is connected to its artistic wish for independence and less to its actual independence from funds or market.

Jelena Vesić reformulated the theses, saying that independence is the scene’s real aim, again emphasizing her dilemma regarding what that independence is from. “We fall into a speculative structure which is the state of art, a state completely permeated with bureaucracy”, she concluded. She wondered if NGOs are nothing but a new kind of institution.

After that, the audience entered the Sharp Thought discussion, and the conversation went on to explain the difference between terms “strategy” and “tactic”, as well as to find the most suitable translation for English term “advocacy”.

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Category: Arhiva predavanja, Najave

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Deschooling Classroom

Deschooling Classroom is a project that addresses the contemporary independent cultural scenes in the region, researching and offering an alternative to the hierarchical models of education in the art and culture. Methodologically, the project moves away from the concepts of individual authorship and expertise, and advocates open collective educational structures where self-organised communities facilitate horizontal production, exchange and distribution of knowledge.