Over the past decade, after the end of wars in Balkans, many historical writings, research papers and academic texts has been written about memory, history and the difficult past, from different disciplines and perspectives. Civil soci- ety, on one hand, made continuous efforts to bringing the topic of coming to terms with the past into political agen- da and educational curricula. On the other hand, the conflict-transforming forces in the political systems are blocked by influential stakeholders. Ethno-nationalistic discourses dominate interpretations of the current and past conflicts, to lead the process of reconciliation into a political stalemate.
It is in the strategy of forumZFD – program in Western Balkans – to work on supporting processes that contribute to a memorial culture that promotes peace and model alternatives for remembrance and memory politics. The focus, among other things, is laid on understanding and analyzing social and political dynamics that lead to construction of nationalist and exclusive war narratives, and on inquiring models for participatory history culture, where private persons (the public) do not act as ‘consumers’ only, but also as contributors or producers (prosumers). Moreover, of special interest it is to explore concepts of masculinity and gender roles in war, victim identities and militarized im- ages in the public spaces. However, it is in academic and political circles where all these complex social discussions dominate, with having left out the public and key stakeholders.
Memory depends on social environment. It is in society people that acquire memories. They recall, recognize and localize memories. In exploring the ways how memory is articulated, society and space are important categories — not in the sense of containers, but rather as a manifestation of processes and structures. Memories are stored and conserved, ordered and inscribed in social parameters. Art is an apt example of this: once taken up in the exhibitions and public spaces, it doesn’t only embody a part of our collective memory but is itself also decisively involved in the production of it.
With “UNERASABLE” we aimed at utilizing various art styles and concepts for making an intentional ‘intervention’ that brings the conversation on memory and the past to the public, to interrogate questions about how people and soci- eties cope with memories of difficult past, how the memory is shaped and how the past lives in the present. Artists, therefore, play a special role in the construction of memory spaces: they communicate beyond public, academic and political landscapes, and contribute to preserving the pool of our shared knowledge. Art, in this project, is a critical examination of this knowledge to the extent that they subvert or call the pre-existing historiographic canon into question. Art itself can consequently also be seen as technique for memory.
The project “UNERASABLE” is initiated by forumZFD – program in Kosovo, in close partnership with “Dokufest” – The Inter- national Documentary and Short Film Festival, Kosovo; Center for contemporary art “Varg e vi” – Kosovo; “Ars Acta” – The Institute for arts and culture, Macedonia; Initiative for contemporary art and theory (ICAT), Serbia; and “Crvena” – Association for Culture and Art, Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is an interdisciplinary project that combines theoretical conversation on memory, history and the past, and contemporary art and expressionism.
“UNERASABLE” opens an active exchange between artists from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia, Macedonia and the Netherlands on one hand, and civil society and academia on the other, to examine national and transnation- al memory discourses in former Yugoslavia and Europe.
This project aims at abstracting the contrasted concept of “Culture of Memory vs. the Culture of Oblivion”, and challenges predominant ethnocentric role models, inclusive identities and gender roles in a patriarchal environment.
Korab Krasniqi, project manager forumZFD – Kosovo Program