One Story of One Workshop

In Požarevac, due to the election year the local government was formed shortly before the workshop began. Since the leading party in the government changed so did most of the local administration including the head of the cultural center and all agreements we reached with the former director (financial, concerning human resources and allocation of space) were cancelled.
Luckily, both the former director, Gordan Bojković and the program manager, Bojan Gačević
agreed to work as volunteers allowing the workshop to take place.
The space of the seminar, which was supposed to take place in the local cultural center, was replaced by contribution of one of the local televisions “Televizija Inn”.
The cultural center participated in giving us working space and a space for the opening event.
Another unfortunate event that happened shortly before the workshop was that the chief editor of Televizija Inn our media sponsor was killed in a car accident but the cooperation
with the television and with Danas newspaper continued.
The workshop started with a press conference for local and national journalists. In the conference participated the curator of the project, representatives of the Požarevac cultural center and selected artists from Serbia and abroad. (Slide 1)
The second day started the lectures, this was the day the International Roma Union (IRU) entered our lives. (Slide 2 bottom right, slide 3 bottom left), later they would take us to the places significant for the Roma population. We also heard lectures about history of Požarevac and the region, it cultures, the economical and political situation, stories from current and former gastarbajters, overviews on their contributions to the society and the changes they brought, lectures by the students of the Belgrade University Anthropology department and artists’ presentations (Slides 2-7). The week was dedicated to an intense discussion on the European view on immigration and how would it be possible to better the relations between home, gastarbajters and host communities (Slides 8-9). The seminar was covered by a few of the local television and some young and older people from the local population came and participated. As part of the seminar, we went on a tour of the town, which ended with a visit to the studio of one of Požarevac’s leading artists (slide 11-13).
After the seminar we the IRU took us on a few excursions the first was to the Roma IDP settlement in Stari Kostolac (slides 14- 24) many artists were very touched by the people living in these difficult condition and a few of the works dealt with the relation between these IDPs, Roma and other gastarbajters and the local population. These pictures were taken by Momir Bojović and Jelena Radić, which also made a documentary about it. Next, we went to participate in a wedding (slide 25) that took place in another, a little better settlement, it was clear that the fact that most IDPs are Muslims divided them from the local population. The day ended in a local party in one of the villages where we dance the traditional dance named – Kola (slide 26).
We also went to a recreation place on the Danube and to the local fair (slide 27), participated in the inauguration of a local church (slides 28-29), and visited many people in the villages surrounding Požarevac (slides 30-44). The distinctive and flashy architecture caught everybody’s eye and a few of the artists related to that for example the performance and photographs of Nannette Vinson (slides 45-48) and the Possible Museum of Erin Obradović and Marija Đorđević. The Museum (slides 51-54) refers more to the inside of
the houses, which is as ostentatious as the exterior (slides 49-50).
One of the main figures of the workshop was Novica Mitić (slide 55) the head of the IRU in Požarevac. A second-generation gastarbajter (his home on slide 56) who, by his organization is often a link between the IDPs and the local population. The work of Mark (slide 57) dealt with the generation affect and temporality that the gastarbajter phenomenon had on the family by creating Novica’s family tree in which many of the members were spending most of the time abroad.
In the office of the IRU a activist approach was taken by the artist Alexander Nikolić who had chosen in this context to create a website for the IRU and to teach its members how to use the internet to promote their cause (slide 58).
Novica, among others (slide 64) had been frequently interviewed by the artists and some have followed the project of the IRU employing Roma in gathering old furniture and redistributing it (slide 59-63). Public interviews were held and broadcasted on a portable radio station by Stefan Tenner and Danijela Pivašević-Tenner (slides 65-66). The interviews were mainly held in German and will be broadcasted on German radio in Berlin. From a different approach the artist Leone Contini (slide 67) engaged with the uneven distribution of resources and the need or demand for solidarity by asking the inhabitants of the IDP camp to make a list of the materials needed for them to better their condition, intending to go with the list to different gastarbajters (Roma and non-Roma) to ask for their contribution. The list was not provided and the gastarbajters refused to contribute. The trace of that idealistic mission was a marble plaque in the park designating the empty site of the donors.
Another aspect of the relations was revealed by the children’s workshop held by Nannette Vinson, and Rena Raedle (slides 68-71) and by Danijela Pivašević-Tenner (slides 72-73). The workshops were held in the IDP settlement in Stari Kostolac, in one of the gastarbajters’ villages and in Požarevac itself. At the opening pictures were taken of the children and the artists together (slide 74). There was a problem of bringing the children from the settlement and the village together since some of the Roma thought it was not appropriate for them to be seen together i.e. reveling some inner hierarchy but in the end all arrived.
During our stay there, a five-month-old baby had died due to the malnutrition and lack of hygienic conditions in the settlement. We all gathered money to help with the hospital bill (that was not necessary since the body was discharged without payment) and Rena, Leone and myself went with a member of the community to release the body. We met the parents and grand parents there. The parents were a young couple, around 15, from the settlement. Rena had signed her name and the name of her organization in order for the procedure to go smoothly.
The death affected the artists deeply. One of the artists Giacomo bazzani produced a death notice for the baby (slides 75-76), a standard procedure in all deaths in Serbia, which would not have taken place without his intervention. Since one of the companies that give funeral services, refused to produce the death notice and notified us that none of the other companies would produce it either. We produced it ourselves and hung it in the appropriate public spaces in order to introduce him back into the community.
The other artist Alexander Nikolić presented photocopies of the death documents in the
central square in Požarevac (slide 77) attracting the attention of the passers by, the Police and the media.
In a different sphere and location in town, the local computer games club, the artist Rebecca Miller was holding an animation workshop for the local young customers to give them an alternative option to the violent games offered there (slide78).
In the park was Marija Vidić installed her origami installation (slides 79-80), hand made and mechanical, her response to the collective thinking of different groups that appeared on the screen of the workshop. For lilja, an artist from Majdanpek the “missing person” was the core of the gastarbajter phenomena (slides 81-83).
Last but not list the artist Vladimir Miladinović reminded us Požarevac’s claim for fame, being Milosevic’s birthplace.

Artists’ statements:

Vladimir Miladinović, Serbia: Billboard installation.

On he way to Požarevac I thought, what drive people out of here… and then, suddenly, right at the entrance to Požarevac I felt an unbearable smell. I said to myself, this is it, such an unbearable stench would drive even the devil out of here.
Work location – cultural center
Exhibition location – main street

Erin Obradović, USA and Marija Đorđević, Serbia/Germany:

Two Floor, Tree Floors – A Possible Museum
In Požarevac and Braničevo County, it is estimated that 30% of the residents are living and working abroad as guest workers.
In considering the gastarbajter home as a space between museum, monument and exhibition – we have gathered six items from the local home of a family who have lived and worked abroad in France for the last 40 years.
They are working as professional musicians in Paris—performing at ex-Yugoslav clubs and weddings. They have raised their children and grandchildren in France, but often spend their summers in Požarevac.
In the 19th century, prominent citizens from Požarevac, like the Trifunovic family (whose
home now houses the Museum of Cultural History) worked as international merchants and shipped most of the items in their home and even workers from abroad. Most were shipped from Vienna and Budapest by boat via the Danube—sailing Neo-Classicism and Biedermeier into Serbia and Požarevac.
What is transported now between European and Požarevac homes?
In case of our current donor everything from marble tiles, household appliances, a fireplace and mantle to the Louis XV furniture were also purchased in France and shipped to Požarevac—although this time via truck. The family agreed to donate a few personal items for our temporary exhibition.
By displacing objects from the 20th century gastarbajter home into the 19th century home/museum we hope to open a dialogue about the presence, influence, relevance in the history of local gastarbajter communities.
Work location – gastarbajters houses
Exhibition location – Museum of cultural history

Alexander Nikolić, Austria:

We have gotten familiar with Požarevac and the people who live in it. the big contribution of the local cultural activity and a lot of gastarbajters. People that in the public opinion are not there, nor here. In seeking them, I have seen, heard and came to know a lot of this. I have seen here areas, where I felt like I am in “Alice in Wonderland”, I have seen here area where IDPs live in harsh conditions. I stand between palaces and barracks. My search began in Vienna and it will be hard to conclude it with this workshop. Too many questions have been opened, and the society in which I try to create is closed. My work needs to stimulate communication on many levels. I hope I will succeed.
Work location – office of IRU
Exhibition location – office of IRU – website:, main square

Marija Vidić, Serbia: Every Bird Flies in its own Flock

The installation “Every Bird Flies in its own Flock” is made of paper in origami technique. Each of us wishes to be “in our own” but if 4000 Km separate between home and domicile, where is our “our own”?
Work location – cultural center
Exhibition location – park of front of the municipality

Momir Bojović and Jelena Radić, Serbia: The “Unknown Stories”

A documentary film about the parallels and paradoxes formed between different groups in the Roma population. On the one hand, the film shows the conditions in the cardboard settlements and on the other Roma as gastarbajters. In the middle is the International Roma Union that is trying to close the gap between them.
Work location – town and villages
Exhibition location – local coffee shop

Nannette Vinson, USA/Hungary Rena Raedle, Germany/Serbia and Danijela Pivašević- Tenner, Serbia/Germany with children from Stari Kostolac, Veliko Crniće and Požarevac: „Writing on the Sky" and "Your Dream-house" – Workshop

On 10th of August 2008, the drawings were presented at the Cultural Centre Požarevac in the frame of the exhibition opening „Art Interventions – The Return of the Gastarbajters". The first workshop took place in Stari Kostolac at a settlement of Roma refugees from Kosovo. The second groups were children from Roma families who are working in Austria, spending their holydays in their home village Veliko Crniće. The third workshop was done in the city park of Požarevac with Serbian children living in the center of the city. Each workshop consisted of two units. One part was individual work with pencil on paper. The children were asked to draw the house of their dreams and to present it to the others. The other was an interactive group work, drawing together on a transparent plastic foil from both sides. The foil would later be held up against the sky and be photographed from below. To bring all children together for an exhibition of their works turned out to be more challenging than expected, as the representative of the Roma organization was first reluctant towards the idea of the refugees' children attending the public event at the cultural centre. In the end, everybody came and it was a great opening. One of the adults from the refugees' settlement wants to go on working with the children and to encourage them to draw on different materials. The workshop was directed by Danijela Pivašević-Tenner, Nannette Vinson and Rena Raedle and was realized in collaboration with the International Romani Union Serbia ( and the library of Požarevac in the frame of „Art Interventions – The Return of the Gastarbajters".
Work location – Stari Kostolac, Veliko Crniće, city park of Požarevac
Exhibition location – Cultural center

Danijela Pivašević-Tenner: Your Dream-house

The works are inspired by the child’s individual understanding of the concept “home”. Home as their reality, their wishes for the future or a fantasy?
Various social structures, religious preference, way of life, does not allow them interaction and integration in their wider social surrounding.
does there surrounding with its different economic, social and cultural values influence them, their upbringing and how does it manifest? Isolation or integration? Mobile or static position?
Work location – Stari Kostolac, Veliko Crniće, city park of Požarevac
Exhibition location – Cultural center

Stefan Tenner, Germany i Danijela Pivašević-Tenner: Gastarbijters’ Radio

Many questions need to be answered if you want to understand the phenomen of the Gastarbajters from Ex-Yugoslavia and the current situation in the place of their origin. In the region of Eastern Serbia, there is obviously a lack of communication in the society. So, let's stop this by a simple thing: a Radio.
Join the transmission & let's meet each other On Air at the weekend 9/10 August 2008 in the centre of Pozarevac.
Or listen here online all the voices, collected in the surrounding of Pozarevac in August 2008:
Work location – the streets of Požarevac
Exhibition location – Cultural center, Main Square

Rebecca Miller, USA: Making versus Destroying

While in Požarevac, Serbia I discovered that the young male population was spending hours inside the internet house playing incredibly violent video games simulating war. This made me uneasy considering the fact that Milosevic was born and raised his children in Požarevac. I saw a need for them to be offered an alternative to these games. I downloaded Flash
animation program on the computers and offered to teach them how to animate their own drawings and designs for a few hours each day. The kids became interested and learned
quickly how to animate their drawings. Soon the young people were involved in a process of creation rather than destruction. A few of them expressed interest in going to art school and were curious about an artistic future. My goal was to have them view the computer as a creative tool rather than a war simulator.
Work location – gaming house
Exhibition location – Cultural center

Ljiljana Stevanović, Srbija: She has Returned

A sculpture in three parts – Europe, female gastarbajter and a road sign for Požarevac. Work location – Cultural center
Exhibition location – Cultural center

Leone Contini, Italy:

The work is the attempt to transform the potential energy of societal inequality into a concrete act of solidarity. In the settlement of Rom refugees from Kosovo he tried to set up a list of
needed materials for infrastructure. This list would be visible in town to reveal the situations
of these people. The mentioning of the donor would follow the local system of values and the need of the gastarbajters to be accepted and visible. The project fails! The failure will be presented in form of an empty commemoration stone, which can be used in case of an act of solidarity, appears in future.
Work location – the streets of Požarevac
Exhibition location – Cultural center, Main Square

Alice Troise, Italy in collaboration with Leone Contini: "Italians eat frogs and…"

This video is the first part of a work in progress based on prejudices concerning culinary habit of other nationalities. In the video Alice discovered that in Serbia many people, coming from different social and national backgrounds, think (or joke with the common opinion) that Italians eat frogs, snakes and cats.
At the moment she is working on a second video, regarding the Italian fear of Chinese gastarbajters, unjustly accused of stealing domestic cats and serve them in their restaurants.

Mark Brogan, England/Serbia: Family Tree for Novica Stević

I was inspired to produce a family tree for Novica Stević by the idea that quite possibly it can be associated with way that gastarbajters build their homes in their home countries. Gastarbajter homes are often built over successive rather than a single generation, each generation maintaining the connection to its roots by adding a floor or a feature, even a new building! Each generation picks up and continues where the last generation left off. Their homes emanate the baroque splendor of palaces created for a dynasty rather than a pragmatic summer retreat for a worker ‘overseas’. These buildings seem to be conceived without an end so that layer upon layer and detail upon detail can be added reflecting family history in a celebration. Is a family tree not constructed in a similar way?
I also pondered the question if the thought would ever occur to gastarbajters to manifest their family history as a family tree. As a second generation Irish man, born in London to Irish parents who moved there in the late sixties, I suspect the answer might be ‘no’. The concept of the family tree relies on, no pun intended, a rootedness, stability and sense of history, which is rendered absent in the unsettling and alienating struggle to integrate and survive in
a foreign land.
Work location – Office of IRU
Exhibition location – Museum of 19th century ethnography

Rofaida Makki, Sudan: „What does Life Mean to You?“.

The question occurs to us many times but we do not focus on answering, life has different meanings for each and every one of us in society is tied to happiness of every individual depends on his conviction and his or her life and the way they live it. I decided to do painting workshops on glass bottles, because the bottle Bear link to the lives of many people of the city (Požarevac), this can be connected to the meaning of life.
Work location – streets of Požarevac
Exhibition location – cultural center

Giacomo bazzani:

The song "International" is played in 90 versions in 49 different languages without pauses or breaks between the different songs.
Sound project, 4h 37’
Naturalization market
It is a long-term project that aims to identify and document some break points and contradiction between the promises of universal emancipation of European modernity and the contemporary form of economic neo-liberalism.
The project includes a series of video interviews with Serb gastarbeiters in order to ask them
to describe the specific situation spatial and temporal, social condition and order of
reflections that marked the moment when, during their migratory path, have decided to return homeland.
The interviews should play preferably in the home or in familiar places of the respondents.
Interactive questionnaire
I would like if you could try to remember and to describe us the precise moment when, during your migratory path you decided to return permanently to your homeland.
1. In what place was you when you took that decision (house, road, work, etc.).? Can you describe it briefly?
2. Could you briefly describe the stages of its migration path that led you to be there at that time?
3. What were your living conditions at that time?
4. What were your expectations at that time?
5. What has the urge to take the decision to return home? What were the thoughts and motivations you did in this particular moment that produced the decision to return home? There were special features of the place or the social context in this moment, which had a special role in taking the decision to return?
Death Notice:
A death notice done for a Rom baby who dies at 5 month in the refugee settlement of Roma from Kosovo
Work location – gastarbajters houses in the town and villages
Exhibition location – cultural center