BELGRADE: ANOTHER GAZE
August 09, 2009
Dejan Atanackovic, Center for International Studies of Art
The goal of the project Belgrade: Another Gaze since January 2009 has been to prepare groups of persons with special needs and members of minority groups for creative work in the field of cultural tourism - as official guides specialized for selected areas of Belgrade. So far, this included the following activities and events:
- Seminar Belgrade: Another Gaze (March 6-9),
- Workshop for Alternative Guides (March 18 – May 13),
- Public presentation and conference: Alternative Guides (May 15),
- Exhibition Belgrade: Another Gaze / Mapping a City (May 16),
- Belgrade: Another Gaze TV production – B92 (June),
- Two tours of the Alternative Guides at 4 locations in Belgrade (June 28, August 1).
The seminar and the workshop involved over 20 participants from various social groups, as well as many lecturers: artists, art historians, architects and professional tourist guides. The workshop was held at the Center for Culture Stari Grad, and on selected locations in the city. A group of 9 Alternative Guides was formed as a final result, for locations: Kalemegdan (Belgrade fortress), Park Usce and the Museum of Contemporary Art (in collaboration with the Museum’s curator, Zoran Eric), Staro sajmiste (Old Fairground, the place of Holocaust), New Belgrade Blocks 45 and 70 (in collaboration with Block Gallery, the only contemporary art gallery in that area). The Guides include 2 members of Roma community, users of wheelchairs, blind persons, a person with a Down syndrome.
The project also included designing a website: drugipogled.com, creating a video archive, photo documentation and promotional brochures.
The first public presentation of the Alternative Guides and of locations they have chosen to present, was organized May 15, with the participation of the representatives of the Tourist Organization of Belgrade (T.O.B.) and the Museum of Contemporary Art. The activities of the Alternative Guides are now part of official programs offered by the T.O.B.
As part of the manifestation The Museum Night 09, May 16, an exhibition entitled Belgrade: Another Gaze has been held at the Center for Culture Stari grad (Kontekst gallery), which included simultaneous screenings of numerous videos created during the workshop. These videos, re-edited to a short TV format in about 20 “episodes”, are now broadcasted at the B92 Info Channel.
The first tours with the Alternative Guides have been accomplished on June 28 and August 1. The second tour, in particular, gained a significant media coverage and it included a participation of a large audience that followed the complete 2-hour program.
Belgrade: Another Gaze is an innovative cultural strategy that involves a variety of institutions in order to interpret a city through the perspective of the marginalized groups. In trying to actually create a new professional profile we have experimented a method, social target and institutional framework that defines the forming and the activity of an Alternative Guide. The Tourist Organization of Belgrade - city administration’ office for tourism - has included Belgrade: Another Gaze in their regular programs and is paying the Guides fees for their services. Also, the Alternative Guides will have an opportunity to work at the T.O.B. information points in the city, one of which is now being prepared specially dedicated to the Belgrade: Another Gaze project. We are currently working on opening other possibilities for Alternative Guides, such as the courses of foreign languages.
Also, the project represents an opportunity to re-evaluate and analyze the city itself, its potential and its problems, as well as to initiate public requests for the improvement of the general quality of life.
As far as we know, this is the first time that persons with disabilities and members of marginalized groups are being in such way involved in a city’s official cultural tourism. What we learned is that, generally, there is a greater lack of knowledge and exchange of information regarding handicap in Serbia than we expected. We had many difficulties in trying to gain specific information – related to numbers and specific problems – regarding marginalized groups. We had no access to any exhaustive source that could be of use, only to very partial ones. All these problems presented obstacles in reaching our goals and will be dealt with in following next fazes of the project. However, we believe that through Belgrade: Another Gaze we have created a specific new method of social integration that now can be repeated and reapplied in many other environments.
In agreement with T.O.B., the project will imply formulating needs and problems related to the objective difficulties of Alternative Guides (as representatives of a large percentage of the population), such as accessibility of public places, transport and education. Our principal goal now is to provide additional vehicles for the transport of persons with disability, make requests for city’s intervention in facilitating access to public places for the wheelchair users, and provide possibilities to Alternative Guides for free learning of the English language.
We are also working on promoting the idea of the project in other European cities, based on the Belgrade experience.
Center for International Studies of Arts
Luke Vukalovica 7, 11000 Belgrade
fax +381 11 2403315
+381 64 1204888
+39 348 3528769