Lexicon for the Provisional Future(s)


Rotated History

March 24th, 2009


This is part two of the Kung Fu Mostar story Azra and I wrote in dialogue — please read her entry (included in the lexicon) and then continue here.

Image: Ban Jelacic rotated, photograph by Khadija Z Carroll.

The artist Milica Tomic said of the new wave of Bruce Lee, Rocky Balboa, and Samantha Fox statues that they are “a dangerous joke in which history is being erased and replaced by Mickey Mouse.” Perhaps, for this reason Bruce Lee suffered damaging blows in the badlands of the Mostar community park after both Bosniaks and Croats, claimed that the fighter was an unworthy representative because of his militant pose. His golden body was heavily vandalized with graffiti. Unknown writers expressed their aggression towards the monument. So the statue was rotated into a neutral direction, but the graffiti continued until Bruce had to be taken away from Mostar.

This was not the first time that a Balkan monument was covered, disappeared, and reappeared rotated. The heroic monumental statue of Ban Jelačić that was erected in 1866, facing east in the central ‘Jelačić square’ of Zagreb to celebrate his defense of the city against the Ottomans, was suddenly covered up in 1945. It disappeared from under the covers and in 1947 on top of the cover, as on a giant plinth, a communist star was displayed. Ban Jelačić’s statue was exiled from its plinth until 1990 when it returned to the center of Zagreb. Since then Jelačić’s figure looks in the other direction: now he faces West!

Fragments from entries to the Lexicon for Provisional Futures, by participants of “How Soon is Now?”, May 2008.  

“The status of “ongoing temporality” to everything we do originates in the sense of not having feasible ways to experience the western concept of “pragmatic ideology”.  At the end, it is maybe a combination of hunger and anger that things don’t move fast enough, that make us consider a provisional future.” Yane Čalovski (Press to exit project space / Skopje)  


Organizations or informal groups could create a specific “collective contract” with the state in order to provide self-autonomy and self-management, and not to be swallowed by state bureaucracy. That means a state should import a limited injection of liberal (liberal in classic economical sense) agendas in its still very immobile cultural institutions, but also provide a certain degree of protectionism to networks, entities, organizations and individuals who are roaming around in something that is a mix of neoliberal precarity and applied self-management.” Kristian Lukić (Napon / Novi Sad)


“Taking the obviously idealistic and utopian agenda as well as its similarly idealized adopted legacy, the Non-Aligned Curatorial Front will first of all operate as a think-tank but also as creative agency exploring techniques, strategies and methodologies of curating as action starting from a position of ‘independent uncertainty’…” Antonia Majača (Galerija Miroslav Kraljević / Zagreb)


“The political potential of cultural, urban and other kinds of activism might prove to be insistence on bureaucracies working to rules, insistence on normativity of regulations, insistence on delivering on policies, insistence on formalities. Rule by rule, policy after policy. It is only then that changing rules and drafting policies might start making sense. The political rallying call might prove to be: become more bureaucratic than bureaucracies.” Tomislav Medak (a/o Multimedia Institute MAMA / Zagreb)


“I am equally interested in an artistic potential of the highjacking of such a manipulative tool [referendum] of the state politics and in political perspectives of such a project and process.” Nebojša Milikić (Rex / Belgrade)


“… to what is the future of culture operators remaining at the periphery? This future lies in creating peripheral aggregators, the small nodes that will simulate the atmosphere of a centre or, by emphasising their exoticism (the more diehard the better), attract the cultural nomads. This is the role we have been assigned and to which we adapt. (…) If there is the third option, our rationality is so limited that we cannot grasp it.” Davor Mišković (Drugo More / Rijeka)


“At the same time, a parallel work should be developed that would allow for the high profile international events, that on their side should slowly but surely merge into more research oriented practices, involving other disciplines and fields related to arts, decreasing the size of the event and increasing the size of the more continuous structures.” Edi Muka (TICA / Tirana)


“We are witnessing a radical change of the cultural field’s infrastructure. The state and municipality institutions are gradually closed; many employees become free lancers, and the centres are being transformed into various kinds of hybrid cultural spaces given to certain actors for a limited period. (…) It would be exaggerated to say that the new context is an idyll… it opens hard questions. (…) Am I contributing to a future open to the multitude, to the existence of the organs without a body; or to a monster, to the bodiless amoeba that will eat all of us by its un-localized organs? Isn’t it bodiless spectre even more dangerous? It’s early to know. But I cannot stop asking…” Ana Vujanović (TKH / Belgrade)


Monday, 12 May 2008, 15.00 – 19:00h at Škuc Gallery, Ljubljana.

Imagine 10 years from now – year 2018. You are still a cultural practitioner, or maybe not. What are you busy with? Where are you located, does your organization still have the same address as in 2008? What is your network? Where do your resources come from (what is your economy) and in what kind of cultural climate is your country/city? How local is your scene and with whom are you (not) cooperating? Are you busy with these issues at all?

The aim of “How soon is now?” is to explore the future of cultural production through the lens of the so-called Western Balkans. It is focused specifically at a group of cultural practitioners, initiators of medium or smaller-scale cultural organizations, who have been challenged and triggered by institutional breakdown during the 1990s, and have become (often unintended) the forerunners of alternative models of cultural production.

“How soon is now?” also contributes to the “Lexicon for Provisional Futures”. This Lexicon actively seeks to encompass terms and concepts that carry a potential to redefine the (European) city and its urban culture. The emphasis is on thinking the future “provisionally” – to introduce a both necessary and instrumental margin of maneuverability, with less utopist grandiloquence.

Prepared and organized by: Azra Aksamija, Bojana Cvejic, Ana Dzokic, Alenka Gregoric, Peter Lang, Marc Neelen. Made by: a group of 10 cultural practitioners. “How soon is now?” will take place as a (en)visionary session among the participants. Supported by: SMFA – devision for culture.

As a part of “Happening” (http://happening.nai.nl/en), a two months program at the Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAi) in Rotterdam a full evening program on the topic of provisional future is set-up on Saturday 19 April 2008, 20.00 – 23.00.


COME AND VISIT the Provisional Future. Join in and observe, participate, discuss, relax, take notes and look around. It’s like a real city!

No one thinks the future will be shiny and rosy, but what will the future cities look like? We have gone to some of the most significant places in the new Europe to see further into the future then many have yet been able to do!

Together we will walk into the unknown, the fantastic, the commonplace!

WHAT TO EXPECT: easel demonstrations, non-existing museums, provisional cars, nomadic mosques, always-to-be building sites, back to the future monuments, future telling and more improvised re-enactments.

WHAT NOT TO EXPECT: super technology and digital effects, spaceships and orbiting space stations, monsters, Supermen, aliens and UFOs.See for yourselves what a provisional future could look like right at the NAI!


Saturday 19 April, 20.00 – 23.00 hrs
Language: English
Entrance: 5 euro
Reservations: www.nai.nl/register
Happening: http://happening.nai.nl/en

With participation of and works by: Peter Lang, David Maljkovic, Alenka Gregoric, Ana Dzokic and Marc Neelen (STEALTH.unlimited), Boris Mitic, Jose Miguel Ortiz Portas, Dubravka Sekulic and Ivan Kucina, Azra Aksamija, Marjetica Potrc, Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss, Piet Vollaard, Wietske Maas and others.


Set-up by Azra Aksamija, Bojana Cvejic, Ana Dzokic, Alenka Gregoric, Peter Lang and Marc Neelen, as a part of ongoing “Lexicon for Provisional Futures”. The group comes from the fields of visual arts, performing arts, curating, theory and architecture. The Lexicon for Provisional Futures seeks to encompass those terms and concepts that could redefine the European city and its urban culture, with an emphasis on thinking about the future “provisionally”, with less utopianist grandiloquence. The Lexicon, is part of umbrella project “Europe Lost and Found”, initiated through the Lost Highway Expedition in 2006.