[artinfo] Lifting of the Western Balkans Identity!

horrorkatze horrorkatze at modukit.com
Fri Mar 3 09:39:28 CET 2006

   Financing of Non-Governmental Organizations

   by horrorkatze

   Keep up your smile and positive vibrations while you are applying for
   a new grant!
   Crediting and Financing may be seen as an instrument of impact of the
   powerful on the one that "needs help".
   The so called "independent" sector, as an important and traditionally
   liberal motor in the changes to some "new"&"democratic" way, plays a
   specific role in the sponsorship process.
   The questions about the relations between Non-governmental
   Organizations and their financiers are unavoidably at the forefront,
   because the powerful influence of world corporations and the ruthless
   market of neoliberal capitalism characterize the crisis in which we
   find ourselves.
   For example, when we check the data on the NGO sector, we can see,
   astonishingly, that global foundations are the dominant employers in
   Third World Countries! (For example, during the 80ies in South
   America, the only profit was made by the so-called "independent"
   sector and the war industry. The fact is that the NGO-crew is one of
   the highest and most educated classes in Third World Countries.)
   In the field of culture and cultural politics, in the region of ex YU
   and east Europe, global foundations and agencies for financing are
   also main factor in the process off pushing transition and building a
   new glocal social and political administration.

   Today, when this process is almost coming to an end in East Europe and
   the Balkans, and when the agencies for cultural funding are focusing
   more on some other continents, we ask ourselves about the nature of
   the cultural politics which have been installed and suggested? What
   kinds of controversy are shaping these processes between cultural
   Non-governmental Organizations and those who give them support?

   Go ahead for the open society!

   Let's remember The Fund for an Open Society, better known as the Soros
   Centre, who made intensive propaganda during the 90ies about the need
   to empower a democratic& open society, which was, from their
   perspective, not so developed or present in this geopolitical context.

   Many cultural commissars were called upon to return applications to
   the famous Open Society and it's politics. The generous and humanistic
   Georg Soros was offering a new "Marshall Plan" to the self recognised
   east European cultural workers and offered them the chance to promote
   the promised liberal standards or to lustrate themselves from the
   "black communist past".

   Across the whole Balkans Soros Centers were springing up, mobilizing
   every individual who could speak English and was able to fill out the
   first Soros applications. One of the first Soros Centers was Cinema
   Rex from Belgrade, which had existed already for 12 years.
   Soros is today the majority owner of the Serbian radio & television
   station B92, a mighty and transformed channel which is broadcasting
   programmes like ""Big Brother", the Milosevic trial from The Hague,
   sitcoms, the European Football league or suddenly discovered archives
   of war crimes in Yugoslavia.

   Soros went further, making centers for new "indoor societies", (in the
   beginning of 2000 Moldavia was on top and later Azerbaijan or

    The Independent dependers
   Cultural workers, activists or artists were somehow trying painless to
   fill out the given applications, without too much thinking and

   The usual manner was the "ostrich with it's head in the sand", without
   too much analysis of the guidelines offered by the doubtlessly
   capitalistic and neoliberal political hierarchy. They just wanted to
   be creative from their heart and saw money as just a resource and
   tool. Under such circumstances, the ones who specialized in this
   quickly came out to be better adapted to the reality of applications.

   It's true to say that the cultural sector has a large number of young
   volunteers. They are satisfied if they are chosen to participate in
   cultural projects and to socialize with the fancy "in" milieu. The
   Managers have been trained at various seminars provided for the
   elaboration of strategies, the volunteers are volunteering for them.
   Anyway, It's important to swallow the whole bite: the new tribe of
   managers has to build up a good network with the local hierarchies,
   not hiding their huge talent for chameleonic opportunism.

   Up until now, in the name of "independent culture" and the
   "independent scene" several million dollars have passed through the
   banks of "independent" cultural organizations.
   What are the direct aims of foundations in a certain context?

   One of the aims is just to burn money inside the cultural sector, some
   kind of potlach to demonstrate the power of "open societies" and their
   ability of cynical selfcriticism. Their intention is to absorb any
   real critical effort into the so-called "independent" scene. But, in
   fact, this scene depends on highly mediated political and economical
   intentions. The resulting projects are overburdened with management,
   power and mediation, for example in the case of new media projects or
   in the meta-cultural production, which lacks any kind of concrete
   Right here we are standing on a very slippery slope, faced with
   numerous contradictory examples, such as when donations by the IMF are
   given to anarchistic and anti-globalistic projects, organizations and
   meetings. With their vassal-like "umbrella politics", their speeches
   lose any critical weight, becoming simulation and decor.
   For some of them the goal is a pure pop-fetish or trend placed for
   entertainment, domestication and putting asleep the body of the new
   The aim is to proof that it's not possible to realize any independent
   action without financing. And, so, if you don't have a detailed PR
   plan, an expert for marketing and fancy catalogue, for sure you don't
   get how the business goes today.
   How contradictory the foundations are themselves becomes very evident
   when they are financing purely political organizations. Namely, the
   same foundation supports right-wingers in Texas, a dictatorship in
   Azerbaijan and in Albania, democratic processes.

   Global agencies for reconstruction and optimization are prepared in
   advance to support projects that are dealing with the negative side
   effects of the process of the so-called transformation. Grants are
   given for the suppression of local neofascism, against clericalism,
   fundamentalism and different aspects of local nationalism. Right now,
   considering these phenomena, one question comes up: Who is generating
   whom? Id est. capitalism produces it's own ugly children against whom
   it already has a planned agenda for extermination.

   Also, NGOs addicted to receiving financing to help solve many
   different problems, are trying to enlarge and induce local problems.
   It's an acceptable marketing strategy, why not? Well, nevertheless
   it's important to acquire new grants and continued existence for the
   next year. The agenda of all foundations is domestication and putting
   to sleep, so smile and feel positive vibrations while you are applying
   for a new grant!
   Substantial geopolitical determinations
   Let's remember all those geopolitical determinations with which new
   definitions of geospace and of the possibilities of moving inside them
   were shaped.

   These guidelines are the tools with which a specific cultural policy
   is to be reinstalled. We can observe this in the example of the
   breakup of Yugoslavia, and we can follow a number of renamings and
   identifications through various geopolitical frames. Until now this
   space "X" has been characterized as east European countries, South
   East Europe, thereafter, Balkan countries and the newest, the Western
   There have been plenty of political reformulations like:
   postcommunistic countries, countries in transition, emerging
   societies, postsocialistic transformation, shaped according to
   political mediation and the necessary strategic solutions. The real
   top spin and compilations of famous quotes ornament formularies and
   applications in almost every cultural projects and was always the
   perfect instrument, in it's deficiency of creativity, to blur the
   nature of cultural policy and it's consequences.

   It isn't so easy to escape from this kind of branding and it's used
   with appetite, even, of course, if it has nothing to do with the real
   Horror cabinet of foundational branding

   The brand "postcommunism" was used remorseless, and led to the funny
   situation in which the famous DDR car "Trabant", was taken as a
   symbolic notion of the system in ex Yugoslavia in various cultural
   projects. You should realize, the famous "Trabi" was never driven in
   the ex YU, and the social system during the time period in question
   was state controlled capitalism with a self managing social policy.

   Numerous international projects were established constituting
   cooperation according to some new specified geopolitical
   determinations. The guidelines were fulfilled and themes like
   "Trabant" mention above were mascots.
   Production of various Balkans and Easteuropean exhibitions soon began,
   new media centers were installed, also "UFO" galleries of contemporary
   arts, (although not so often in places where the locals never heard
   what this, in fact ,is). Balkan Nordic Switch was organizing an
   exchange programme in which you could only take part if you were from
   a specific "Balkan or Nordic race".
   Balkanism and the Balkans, retrospectives from this view or the view
   of the "Other", became a theme for endless projections and debates,
   led by many artist, cultural workers, curators, cultural theoreticians
   and sociologist from one or another part of east & west.
   Let's put the question of how is it possible that Greece, as part of
   the Balkan Peninsula, never played a part in similar cooperations and
   After all, funds from different EU countries like German
   Bundeskulturstiftung, Austrian Kultur Kontakt, or Swiss Pro Helvetia,
   were awarding grants for projects which satisfied standards inside the
   geopolitical frame of the Western Balkans.

   Lifting of the Western Balkans Identity

   Well, what, in fact, is the Western Balkans and how is it discussed
   right now? It is, as it seems, all ex YU countries, without Slovenia,
   but including Albania...

   The expectations are that foundations have to speed up the integration
   process of the Western Balkans into the EU and that cultural workers
   have to push this process as much they can.
   So, Let's mention the conference held on 1. December 2005. in The
   Hague "The Hart of Matter Balkans". It was a meeting of big importance
   for the work of the European Cultural Foundation, again in the frame
   of the geopolitical context of the Western Balkans, and their further
   positioning in the region.

   European Cultural Foundation (ECF) and their hierarchical structure
   lead us to Brussels and other administrations of European Union. The
   participants of the conference were persons like Austrian ambassador
   to the UN -Wolfgang Petritsch, Netherlands minister of Foreign Affairs
   - Bernard R. Bot or ex Serbian and Montenegro minister Goran
   Svilanovic. Also present were almost every cultural worker from the
   ECF network, and the Macedonian playwright Goran Stefanovski told a
   vivid story about an imaginary poet, Zoran, and the EU stars inside
   his heart. The Impression altogether is that around these kind of
   meetings is flying the fame of a strange "enlightenment" while
   strategies like: cross-cultural conflict management,
   multi-culti&ethnic projects, work on "Enlargement of Penis,
   upsss...sorry, Minds", integration, etc... rain from managers.

   From the report we can read some more from many conclusions: For
   example to end the stigmatization of the Balkans. Hmm... until now
   were they only concerned with the production of stigmatization? or
   what?? That the Balkans should become equal member of EU, and that the
   democratic building of a new Balkan identity (whatever it is), has to
   be completed. The Balkan identity, hmm, there are also probably
   Apeninian or Pirineian Identities, but "The New Balkan identity"
   surely has something to do with NSK or MTV Adria!
   This charming document you can download from the official ECF
   web-site, and the address is:
   What to do?
   But how is possible to be truly independent and how to stay out of
   this powerful machinery, which is sucking up any free action?
   The recipe can be very simple and clear if you bear in mind that only
   unmediated action and direct contact can be preconditions for creating
   a real space for free action. Development of personal and self
   organized economical possibility, on the fundaments of solidarity and
   the real alternative.

   Maybe it's not possible to develop expensive productions but better is
   to be really independent, whatever you achieve!


   This text was published in the Croatian megazine 04 no 15. link:

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