The Yugoslav, socialist, and Partisan past was both demonized by the resurgent Balkan nationalist projects of the 1990s and commodified by Yugonostalgic memorialization, stylized as either heroic or droll. Against these versions of a ‘frozen’ past, a multiplicity of projects, cultural, artistic, or political, have sought to document and aggregate past fragments, diverse snapshots, artworks, political events — a diverse archive to be retrieved in order to unsettle current narratives and mobilize emancipatory changes. The term ‘Partisan counter-archive’ in particular builds on two recent publications, Gal Kirn’s Partisan Counter Archive and Davor Konjukušić’s Red Light, which tackle the return to the Yugoslav Partisan struggle and its after-life, going beyond both revisionism and nostalgia.
Seeking to connect this particular example to wider revolutionary and decolonial histories, the symposium will also draw on some of the most advanced considerations of archival practices in radical modernist traditions and contemporary art. How can counter-archives connect the testimonies and legacies of past struggles with the victims of today’s oppression? What kind of power struggles are produced by counter-archives, and how do they manage to draw attention to what has been lost, overlooked, reduced, suppressed, or omitted from national archives and established historiography?
These questions and similar lines of inquiry will be discussed by researchers, artists, and filmmakers who have been working on (or with) the notion of counter-archive/s, recombining and reinterpreting the legacy of the oppressed. Coming from various disciplines and dealing with different archival materials, participants of this symposium share a critical awareness that the work on and with archives is traversed by profound power struggles.Counter-Archive, symposium, ICI Berlin, 29–30 April 2021 <https://doi.org/10.25620/e210429>
Serbia / France / Germany,
How can a landscape speak?
It’s like wondering whether the grass, the crickets,
or the pond are only a backdrop to the events,
or whether they actually participate in them,
with their shadows, depths, sounds,
waiting to become narrators?
Landscapes of Resistance, a film by Marta Popivoda, traces a journey through the memories of antifascist fighter Sonja (97), one of the first Partisan women in Yugoslavia, who was also among the leaders of the Resistance movement at Auschwitz. As Sonja speaks, we travel through the landscapes of her revolutionary youth as they exist in the present time – the Serbian forests and mountains where the partisans gathered and the muddy grounds and countless chimneys of Auschwitz – towards her tiny Belgrade flat where she lives with her husband and cat. Since Sonja is a great storyteller, capable of telling about past events without hindsight, she takes us directly into that peculiar atmosphere and mindset, which gave birth to antifascist resistance. We make her story travel through time towards the bodies of the new generation of antifascists, bespeaking that it is always possible to think and practice resistance.
Landscapes of Resistance Teaser‘Marta Popivoda: Landscapes of Resistance’, screening presented at the symposium Counter-Archive, ICI Berlin, 29 April 2021 <https://doi.org/10.25620/e210429-1>