BIRN Launches ‘Invisible Art’ Project in Belgrade

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Journalists from across the Balkans gathered in Belgrade from December 5 to 6 to discuss the contemporary Balkan art scene and have their stories commissioned for BIRN’s ‘Invisible Art’ project, supported by the Prince Claus Fund.

The two-day meeting that started on Friday was held as a part of BIRN’s cultural project Culture Watch, under this year’s topic of ‘Invisible Art’.

The focus of the meeting was on the stories that 12 journalists from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Serbia will write for an upcoming webpage that will deal with contemporary art projects and artists across the region who are marginalised by the state authorities, the market, the media and other factors.

The meeting began with an introduction from BIRN director Gordana Igric and a short training session about the writing of longer feature stories for the project.

After this, the journalists explored the possibilities of multimedia reporting within the ‘Invisible Art’ webpage, which will be launched in March.

In the second part of the meeting, the journalists proposed stories that could best describe the situation that the project aims to explore.

The commissioned stories will deal with such topics as the spaces in which alternative scenes function, graffiti artists, performance artists, writers and small publishers and others who are excluded from the mainstream because of their ways of thinking and expressing themselves.

On Saturday, the journalists who will report for ‘Invisible Art’ undertook two study visits.

First they visited the photo gallery Opservatorijum for the opining of a new exhibition by photojournalist Saša Čolic, concentrating on social problems in Serbian society, but also the problem of power, its misuse and the visibility of non-mainstream culture.

The second visit was to the Zvezda cinema in Belgrade, which has been taken over and reopened by a group of young people who call themselves The Movement for the Occupation of Cinemas, who are protesting about the Beograd Film network of cinemas that was privatised and then shut down in 2007.

The Zvezda occupation highlights a new type of social resistance by creative people and artists against the underfunding of culture and the fact that all kinds of cultural institutions are currently not functioning at all across the Balkans.

‘Invisible Art’ is a further step towards the same goal: to use the capacity created by the three year BICCED (Balkan Initiative for Cultural Cooperation Exchange and Development) project to create a regional network of cultural journalists who will monitor the cultural scenes in their own countries.

The project is intended to give people a more colourful insight into the troubles facing artists in the Balkans and help to shape future cultural policies.

The project was initiated by Balkan Investigative Reporting Regional Network, BIRN Hub and is being implemented with the financial support of the Prince Claus Fund.

Twelve feature articles from all participating countries will be published from March to September 2015 within the Balkan Insight site.