A 5-channel video installation (á 05:57)
Serbian with Serbian Cyrillic and English scripts and English subtitles
In this 5-channel video installation five fictionalized characters (Milenka, Bogdan, Nina, Zolt, Zoran) tell their tales. These tales are juxtaposed with text from the latter in Serbian Cyrillic as well as English script and footage from Sergei Eisenstein’s silent film “Stachka/Strike”. In 1925, Eisenstein depicted a complex re-creation of the developments of a 1912 factory strike in pre-revolutionary Russia. The actors of the Proletkult Theatre (Theatre of the People, 1917-1927) acted the part of the workers. In this film my interest lies in the scenes that portray collectivism and stand in contrast to the singularity of each tale in my installation.
This installation is based on a research I conducted during two residency periods in Belgrade, Serbia. In winter 2008, I started to dwell into the struggle of the workers of the pharmaceutical factory Jugoremedija in Zrenjanin. From 2004 to 2006, the workers had fought against the privatization of their workplace. Throughout their struggle they partly lived in the factory, squatted the city hall for four months, protested three days and nights in front of the Agency for Privatization in Belgrade, got beaten up, injured and imprisoned by police and private security. During these two years the workers did not earn a living and many were abandoned by their families. In 2006, Jugoremedija became the first factory amongst the “transition” countries in Eastern Europe undergoing neo-liberal privatization to be recovered and controlled by its workers.
In summer 2009, I came back to Serbia to research further into the subject. I soon found out that during the month of August alone there were around forty different protests per day taking place all over Serbia. Based on this research and the interviews with the workers I developed “Tales of protest. A necessity”. The conversations with the workers as much as witnessing their protest in front of the Agency of Privatization and the governmental building in Belgrade triggered me to question my own position as an artist and framer of the workers’ struggle: What am I fighting for? Do I let anything be done to myself?
Juboremedija produced pharmaceutical products until 2013, when it was forced to close due to bankrupcy.
Concept, sound recording and editing: Nina Höchtl
Audio recording performed by Gordana Tasic (Milenka), Nenad Gvozdenovic (Bogdan), Iva Markovic (Nina), Slavoljub Novakovic (Zolt), Ivan Nikolic (Zoran);
Footage: Stachka (1924) by Sergei M. Eisenstein
Translation to Serbian: Tamara Naunovic; Proof editing of English: Nenad Jovanovic
The installation was exhibited at CZKD curated by Kontekst Gallery in Belgrade 2009 and it was part of following exhibitions “Rebellion” curated by Minna Hendriksson, various locations in coop. with the Tampere Art Museum, Tampere (FIN) (2015); “Unexpected Encounters” curated by Kontekst collective, Camera Austria, Graz (A) (2013); “Spaceship Yugoslavia“ curated by A.Surkic, A. Kulasic, A. Mujkanovic, D. Markovic, J. Komnenic, K. Sudec, N. Hennig, NGBK, Berlin (D), “Pièces de résistance“, curated by Andrea Domesle, Frank Eckhardt and Michal Kolecek, Motorenhalle Dresden (D) (2011); „Barriere(-frei)“ curated by Sabine Winkler, Ratskeller Lichtenberg, Berlin (D), „entsprechend PREKÄR“ at Galerie 5020 in Salzburg (A), “RE: EX-POST, Critical Knowledge and the Post-Yugoslavian Condition” curated by Luisa Ziaja, OPEN SPACE in Vienna (A) (2010).