Gerswalde, Germany – December 2017
During our meeting in Gerswalde our focus was on our work location: the Uckermark region. This rural region exemplifies structures of exclusion and discrimination of the last 90 years in Germany. Here is the memorial of the women’s concentration camp Ravensbrück, with which we dealt in detail. In addition to our personal visit, a broad research took place in which the participants, guided by their own interests, followed microstories. In this context, we reflected on how we deal with testimonies and sources, what responsibility is required in dealing with them, but also on the possibilities and limitations of the concrete representation of victims of National Socialist regime in the discourse on remembrance in Germany. In addition, the geographic and infrastructural obstacles presented by a rural and therefore largely depopulated and underdeveloped region in northeastern Brandenburg presented a challenge. We gained an insight into what it means to live in a region where rutted, cobblestone streets connect the villages and mobile reception as well as fast Internet rarely to hardly be available, or a ride on public transport in the next center and back takes half a day’s journey.
Kluszkowce, Poland – September 2017
In Kluszkowce, our common work focused on different concepts of “homeland” and the critical examination of them. The German term “Heimat” refers to a socio-culturally specifically structured region, with which people feel connected by birth, language or an acquired preference. It oscillates between a mere regional reference and a political-moral concept. In any case, it implies a specific population structure, tradition and orientation. The opposite is the stranger and the alienation. While there is a word for “homeland” in Croatian, similarly connoted concepts in Polish and Serbian already refer to the “fatherland” itself. In this sense, we critically examined how concepts of “homeland” – “domovina” – “otadžbina” – “ojczyzna” influence our political thinking and acting. How are we influenced by our personal background? How did we come into contact with concepts of „Heimat“/ „homeland“? How does the diversity of the respective concepts affect the policies of the countries? Which narratives derive from it? At the same time, the question of “homeland” triggered reflection on one’s own background and affiliation, and thus on one’s own position within social discourses, and especially on one’s own experiences of foreignness and discrimination.
Vrhovine, Croatia – July 2017
In July 2017, the workshop program Body / Language / Archive returned to the Lika region, where our project began in August 2015. In addition to the approach to war incidents in the former Yugoslavia as well as its historical political representation and reflection, the examination of personal experiences between 1991 and 1995 played a central role. The focus of our dealing was also on the political prehistory and the socialist Yugoslavia of Josip Broz Tito. On an excursion we visited the architectural remains of “Tito’s Villa” in Plitvice, which are paradigmatic for the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the subsequent war and present it to our eyes. The example of Vrhovine sheds light on the specific consequences of war today on the region, such as depopulation and vacancies, and the contradictory means, instruments and initiatives that respond to it individually, as well as regionally and nationally. Thus, tourism offers as well as the targeted purchase of real estate by urban enterprises and private individuals are supported, but growing social as well as ethnic tensions are unconsidered, which conflict with the intended purposes.
Podum, Croatia – July 2016
In a residency program, to which the participants of the workshops in Podum, Croatia 2015 and Berlin-Weißensee, 2016 were invited, the already achieved results were reflected. At the center of this reflection process was the examination of the topics and methods of the past workshops. The topics which were touched upon in previous encounters were further developed and deepened in groups. Physical traces and their stories, damaged bodies, scars; Dystopia and apocalypse as well as perpetration and trauma were focused. In addition, an evaluation and further development of the methodological and content-related approach took place. Returning to the site of the first meeting also provided an opportunity to explore the extended environment of the mine-surrounded village to allow a geographical and political contextualization of the place. It had to be remembered that in the course of the Croatian accession to the EU, the social structures in the region changed dramatically, both economically and in terms of population structures. These topics were further explored in the subsequent run through with the return to the region, to the neighboring village of Vrhovine in July 2017.
Berlin-Weißensee, Germany – May 2016
The subject of the discussion on exclusion and eliminatory violence in Berlin-Weißensee was the historical-political dealings with the National Socialist dictatorship and its devastating consequences. At the same time, the second encounter focused more on what it means to take responsibility for the history. How can we relate to a past that we no longer have personal access to? How can we raise awareness of the topic? How and for what purpose can we take responsibility? In addition, we addressed mass choreographies and the constitution of the performative collective body in different systems, especially with regard to sports festivals, demonstrations and parades.
Podum, Croatia – August 2015
In our first encounter in Podum in August 2015, we dealt with the recent Croatian past and present – the war from 1991 to 1995 and the historical policies that follow and determine the image of the war. Characteristic of this dealing was the increasing constitution of “national ethnic groups” since the 1980s in former Yugoslavia. Expulsions and massacres were their immediate consequences. Even today, there are minefields in the Lika region where Podum is located, even if they are marked today. For some years there have been a lot of efforts in Croatia to deal critically with this past. This was a constructive link to the workshop: Is cultural identity to be understood as a construction? How does she get along? How does she distinguish herself from her other? What does the identity demarcation of neighbor and neighbor mean? How does it lead to their exclusion or expulsion?