A(u)ction – Novi Sad’s Log of Spaces Between Personal Interests and Public Needs reveals the current conflictuous reconfiguration of living space and urban culture of Novi Sad. It investigates the field of play that defines some of the most remarkable dynamic, non-regulated and disturbing changes of the city. Who are the players, for whom do they play, can we recognise the strategies on which they base their actions and how do this reflect to the public interest?
Novi Sad is seeing a significant transformation in recent years. New districts have been built, large (housing) investments have been made – illegal or not, infrastructure is being laid out, while cinemas are lacking, military locations within the city will be put on auction, and the Petrovaradin Fortress and its city quarters are on the verge of capitalization in the name of tourism. All this takes place while entire society is passing through a structural, political and ideological transition for which the guidelines are drafted on the go in an atmosphere of uncertainty. Novi Sad, possibly even more strongly than other cities in its wider region, embarks on a speculative course amidst muddy waters in which the motives, the gains and the responsibilities of the partakers are unclear.
Fact finding, case studies and an exhibition
With A(u)ction, the recent changes in the city have been presented in the SULUV Gallery through more than 125m2 of data, over 215 striking facts about Novi Sad and over 250 entries about regional changes. The information has been gathered from a/o 17 interviews with prominent urban actors from a/o the City Council, the Municipal Company for Public Spaces, the Architecture Department of the University of Novi Sad, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Vojvodina, Zvezda Film, the Municipal Planning Authorities Novi Sad, the Museum of Vojvodina, construction and engineering company Gardi, Civic Association Almašani, leather accessories manufacturer The Manual Co. and newspapers.
The exhibition A(u)ction also presents an investigation of media reports over the last two years and an atlas of 12 exemplary cases in the recent development of Novi Sad. These include the privatization of Zvezda Film, the real estate developments around the so called Chinese Quarter, the privatisation of military terrains on key locations in the city, citizens’ initiatives, wild building and legalization, and the developments around the Petrovaradin fortress – to name a few.
Newspaper as strategic tool
The material from the project has been brought together in the 24 pages tabloid newspaper Cement (12.000 copies) that uses the visual and journalistic language of popular local media. The choice for this has been made in order to effectively enter the domain of public discussion used by the most influential economic and political actors that define Novi Sad’s development. The copies have been spread free of charge throughout the city – and have been handed to members of the regional parliament. On the occasion of the publication of Cement, in collaboration with the platform Ko Gradi Grad a public discussion has been held in the Black House – the Dictionary of Urban Dilemmas that brought contributions of …. people in a dense, animate and emotional event.
Beyond privatized interests, toward a common future
Reviewing the outcomes of this project, inescapably one is to question: what is next. Novi Sad finds itself on a turning point. In this moment of global economic crisis – but also of local saturation, because of which construction business will not any longer be a leading branch of economy – it has become evident that aside dominant market aspects, the participation of professionals, artists, architects and manifestly citizens is necessary for the development of its failing public content. A(u)ction points out that today the future of the city depends on personal and privatized interests, while the role of the public sphere as its binding element has become evidently urgent – for a common future.
- [team ] Ana Džokić, Marc Neelen, Aleksandar Bede, Branka Ćurčić, Svetozar Krstić, Zoran Pantelić, Borka Stojić and Nataša Vujkov, with support from Kristian Lukić, Gordana Nikolić and Orfeas Skutelis
- [graphic design ] Predrag Nikolić
- [interviews on Novi Sad ] Jelena Atanacković-Jeličić (member of the City Council for Urbanism and Protection of Human Environment), Srđan Crkvenjakov (assistant director of the Municipal Company for Business Spaces), Jovan Đerić (assistant at the Architecture Department, University of Novi Sad), Živko Grozdanić (director of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Vojvodina), Boris Gigov (former director of Zvezda Film), Ružica Jovanović (urban planner), Kreativna Co-Op (Slobodan Jović, Aleksandar Lukić), Svetozar Krstić (journalist), Živan Lazić (journalist), Darko Polić (Municipal Planning Authorities Novi Sad), Vladimir Mitrović (director of the Museum of Vojvodina), Darko Reba (chief of the Architecture Department, University of Novi Sad and co-owner of the construction and engineering company Gardi), Civic Association Almašani (Aleksandar Cvetković, Marijan Majin, Miloš Višković), Siniša Žarin (owner of manufacturer The Manual Co.)
- [interviews and contributors for the region ] Besnik Aliaj, Gjergj Bakallbashi, Branko Belaćević, Jelena Stefanović, Dafne Berc, Teodor Celakoski, Sotir Dhamo, Ulrike Franzel, Valon Germizaj, Žakilina Gligorijević, Adelina Greca, Astrit Hajrullahu, Florina Jerliu, Aleksandra Kapetanović, Ivan Kucina, Marko Miletić, Ilir Murseli, Oliver Musovik, Divna Penčić, Dubravka Sekulić, Petrit Selimi, Pulska grupa, Aneta Spaseska, Borislav Vukićević and others
- [project support ] Swiss Cultural Program in the Western Balkans, the City of Novi Sad, Fund for an Open Society, Ministry of Culture of the Republic Serbia
- [background ] “A(u)ction” is made in collaboration with _kuda.org and is part of two broader, collaborative, regional project: Individual Utopia Now and Then, and INtoOUTREACH. It is part of the Cities Log research series investigating the contemporary development of cities in the region of Post-Yugoslavia and Albania. The first edition of the Cities Log has been made on the occasion of the 4th Tirana International Contemporary Arts Biannual (2008). The Recnik gradski Dileme takes place in the framework of Ko Gradi Grad. In 2011-2012 Cities Log editions are under construction in Sarajevo and Novi Pazar.
- [timeline ] June 2010 – December 2010, exhibition 13 December 2010 – 8 January 2011