Cities Log is a chronology of spatial issues, depicting the often conflicting developments of post-Yugoslav and Albanian cities (Belgrade, Kotor, Novi Sad, Podgorica, Prishtina, Pula, Skopje, Tirana and Zagreb). It is based on a series of conversations made with professionals in the field of architecture and urban issues during several weeks of travel through cities in the region. Along eight topics (privatisation, real estate, clientalism, legalisation and legislation, building identity, infrastructure, the role of architects, and the struggle for collective space) Cities Log depicts a rough section through the developments of these cities during a one year (Summer 2008 – 2009) period, set in the context of fast capital investments, newly emerging power relations and the challenges brought forward by new citizens engagement. STEALTH made the first edition of Cities Log for the Tirana International Contemporary Art Biannual in 2009.

Cities Log at Hotel Dajti, Tirana International Contemporary Art Biannual.

[struggle for common space]

Cities Log reads like placed between a crime scene investigation and an entertaining plot – however always touching upon the unfavourable reality of common interest today. While up until the 1990’s cities in the Western Balkans developed largely outside the mechanisms of the real estate market, today privatisation, clientalism, and the creative abuse of legal instruments seem commonplace in a context impacted by wild urbanisation and swift shifts of capital investments – set within the horizon of a neoliberal context.

At the same time, in these same cities a counter force starts emerging that tackles specific cases of dominance of the urban space by privileged groups. Here and there inhabitants start organising themselves, civil organisations start turning their gaze to the city and journalists begin digging through the issues. With these first, uneasy struggles for common space taking shape, the fight for civil society and common interest is finally entering the physical domain of the city. This document features only a limited overview of urban issues from the period 2008-2010. However, it makes it obvious that the question – to whom belongs the city? – becomes increasingly relevant when the field of play – and indeed often literally the ground – in the city is drawn up and divided between various market forces, private interests, siding local governments and opposition forces.

As urgent as the issues addressed in the Cities Log may be within their own context, they also hint at a new engagement of citizens and professionals emerging in cities throughout the world. And it points to alternatives appearing from the cracks and ruptures of the highly individual and profit-driven development of contemporary cities – opening the horizon to different contributions to and involvements in what the future of our cities could be.

[the log and its contributors]

The chronology – made trough conversations with and contributions by a large number of architects, urbanists, artists, journalists, civil groups – is accompanied by a number of documentaries, like video fragments from RTV B92’s Insider program on construction mafia, visual documentation of the resistance of the inhabitants around the Fifth Park in Belgrade against conversion of ‘their’ park into a construction site, or the toolbox developed by Right to the City to act against unfavourable transformations in the public space of Zagreb.

The initial Cities Log chronology has been made by STEALTH on the occasion of the 4th T.I.C.A.B – Tirana International Contemporary Art Biannual (September / October 2009) and created a backdrop for the Tirana Dialogues, a series of public discussions during the Biannual. Following presentations in Vienna (November 2009) and Belgrade (June 2010), three specific city based editions of Cities Log have been developed – in Novi Sad, Novi Pazar and Sarajevo.

Cities Log during “Tirana Dialogues” with Francisco Sanin and Teddy Cruz.

  • [team ] STEALTH.unlimited (Ana Džokić and Marc Neelen)
    [graphic design exhibition ] Ajdin Bašić
  • [contributions by a/o ] 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…
  • [featured initiatives and projects ] Insider, RTV B92, Belgrade, Abuse of Office TV serial; Vladan Jeremić and Rena Rädle, Belleville video; Lorenz Aggermann, Eduard Freudmann, Can Gülcü, Beograd Gazela – Travel Guide to a Slum book; Civil Initiative for Muzil, Pula; Fifth Park, Belgrade; Right to the City, Zagreb; First Archi Brigade, Skopje; Luise Donschen and Archis Interventions / Prishtina, Pump Up Prishtina video; Sabine Bitter / Helmut Weber, NEW Novi Beograd 1948-1986-2006 video and Autogestion, or Henri Lefebvre in New Belgrade book.
  • [background ] Cities Log has been part of the project Individual Utopia Now and Then, initiated by SCCA/ (Sarajevo), (Novi Sad) and TICA (Tirana), supported by the Swiss Cultural Program (SCP) in the Western Balkans. In 2010, Cities Log has been expanded during its second edition in Novi Sad. Following this two other, distinct editions of the project took place in Novi Pazar and Sarajevo. On the invitation of Stefan Rusu and local organisations, three offspring editions have been made: Chisinau (Moldava, 2011), Dushanbe (Tajikistan, 2014) and Bishkek (Kirgizstan, 2015).
  • [timeline ] summer – autumn 2009
  • [exhibitions / publicity ] Tirana International Contemporary Art Biannual – T.I.C.A.B (25 september – 22 october, 2009), exhibition Lines Not to be Crossed, Open Space, Vienna (18 november – 15 december, 2009), Kvart Magazine #14, Belgrade (november, 2009), Život umjetnosti / The Life of Art #87, Zagreb (2010), Urban report #1, Bucharest (2011), IDEA magazine #39, Cluj (2011)