So, here’s a few images from the LHE trip. Yes, they’re taken with my VGA phonecam, and yes, they’re crappy. Posted in reverse chronology. Click on thumbnail for larger image and comments.
[Well back in Stuwerviertel, Vienna I hereby post some notes from the last leg of the LHE trip through the territory of Ex-Yu and Albania.]
Yes, Kasper and I finally made it to the coast after travellinginland for three weeks. After some unfortunate attempts we did find a small little village (Rose) directly located on the corner of Kotor bay and the Adriatic sea. The easiest way to get there was by boat. It was a very quiet place and we spent two nights there in a rented reed hut. Strange. Other than that we spent our time jumping in the clear water and pedaling around in a water-bike-thing.
On our way to meet with our fellow travellers in Sarajevo, we stopped by in Mostar. Here we found the famous bridge rebuilt and already quite a strong tourist industry had grown around it. But one shouldn’t walk far to meet the grim sights of the past conflict (here meaning damaged buildings). We later found out that some months earlier some artists had erected the worlds first Bruce Lee monument in Mostar inorder to focus the public space towards something more unifying (?). But it had unfortunately been taken down for the summer for early restoration.
The last stop on our joint travel. Again, a very dense and interesting program was made for us. This time by Azra Aksamija, architect and artist currently based at MIT, Boston. A big experience for me was a city walk thorugh the Ottoman part of the city and visiting an old Ottoman residential house. The gradual public-private use of space, multi-functional furniture and mulit-purpose rooms reminded me of some of the modular semi-utopian living design of the 1960’s (although the aesthetics were not so similar).
Later that first day in Sarajevo [Aug. 23], we visited the Hotel Saray, which has an (apparently) emblematic history of semi-illegal (or ‘informal’ as it was often reffered to) constructions and expansions. At the roundtabel discussion some interesting points came up regarding this ‘inventiveness’ of kitsch architecture. I must admit that there is an intriguing aspect to it, when the city plans (laws) are beeing altered after the built enviroment is already there; to somehow comply. But perhaps the democratic aspect of this extra-parliamental law-making is lost when big developers with capital starts deciding the future of the city over the city administration and the small scale bottom-up home-building. Just some thoughts on that.
Later that evening, we had the privilege to visit the private archive of the twin brothers Nihad and Sead Kresevljakovic in the basement of their family house. The archive consisted of the belongings and library of their late grandfather, the famous Bosnian historian Hamdija Kresevljakovic, and their own uniqe collection of homevideo tapes from the siege of Sarajevo 1992-1996. From this video archive they’ve edited a very interesting documentary called “do you rememeber Sarajevo?” which we saw outside in their garden of their house a little up in the hills. It was a strong experience watching this hand held footage of the shellings in more or less the same position in the city where from some of the footage was originally recorded. After the screening the brothers showed us the archive of their grandfather and told stories of his life and work and of the history of Bosnia. Very impressive.
Other points on the program in Sarajevo included an very informative lecture on contemporary church- and mosqueconstruction in Bosnia, held by Azra in the beautiful Magribija Mosque, which restoration and partially rebuilding has been supported by Unesco.
After most people from the LHE left, I decided to stay a few more days in Sarajeo to catch some of the screenings of the Sarajevo Film Festival which was on those days too. I managed to watch “Evropa preko plota” (”Europe next door”) by Serbian documentarist Zelimir Zelnik, which was a cinema varite style production using local inhabitants as actors to tell the story of a farming family in a northern Serbian village and its attempt to get access to Hungary and its economic benefits. Also cought the beautiful “A Perfect Day” by Hadjithomas/Joreige; “Music is the Art of Time” about the ever first punk record in Slovenia and “Zidane”, the uber-epic, pathetic big screen adventure of artists Parreno/Gordon.
In my last days in Sarajevo I stayed at a friends place. It was very nice to get a little feeling of ‘home’ (although it was not my own) after spending only two or three nights in a row in different hostels and hotels. But then time came when I had to head home, and after a long trip via Ljubljana (thanks for the burger and talk, Jaume!) I ended up in Max Winter Platz on Monday morning August 28th. Spent a few days with the obligatory stomach ache and a bit of fever, but now I’m all good again and are looking forward to the next few months here in Vienna.
[Rememeber, if you want more info on the LHE project, check out www.europelostandfound.net]
nope, i never said i was a very regular blogger!
in a few days i will write about the last leg of our travel. promise. also some crappy VGA photos will be uploadet here.
After a short stop at Ohrid in southern Macedonia where we chilled on a pedalboat/waterbike in the middle of the 300 m deep lake while listening to Baile Funk from Kaspers phone, we took the wildest ride I’ve ever experienced. It went over the mountains in eastern Albania towards Tirana. A crazy car ride with steep cliffs on each side on the road. And while the sun was setting and the car stereo boosted hiphop/r’nb in Albanian. Wow.
In Tirana we’re [when I say ‘we’ I mostly mean Kasper and I] staying at a small but nice hotel just around the corner from the main square. Last night we had a gathering of approx. 30 people on the roof terrace of the hotel, where Jaume (Barcelona/Ljubljana) set up video projector and sound system. We all brought food and had a picnic with presentations of people’s work (both from Tirana and elsewhere).
After I went to bed (had a bit of a heatstroke; almost 40 degrees!) there was apparently some discussins going on on the roof terrace about the whole project an its aims and possible outcomes. Some people were apparently a bit disappointed about the lack of action of the participants of this peoject. Personally, I don’t have any illusions about contributing with anything intellegent after two days in each city and almost no time to digest or reflect on the impressions, knowledge, information I’ve received. What ever might come out of this on my behalf, will come after some time of more research, thinking things through and talking to people some more.
Today we had a fantastic walk along the river here in Tirana. Newly installed, shiny street advertising systems void of any content. Vendors selling windows and doors on the street. And architectural fill-in took on a new meaning for me: modernist see-through ornaments on the facades of concrete housing units filled in with all kinds of things in order to create an additional rooms between the apartments and the balconies.
Tomorrow, the plan is to head to the coast of Montenegro and chill for a few days. Take care ya’all.
(still no luck in transfering images…sorry)
Arrived in Prishtina yesterday. Soon after it started raining. So not much activity. Got a ‘UNMIK’ (UN Mission In Kosovo) stamp in my passport though, when crossing the border from Macedonia, since the status of the region/country is not settled.
But this morning after a heavy breakfast, we had a small improvised guided tour of the national/university library that lies in the uni campus, but on the other side of the building there is an unfinished orthodox church in a wasteland looking area, that was started in 1998 by decree from Beograd. Now its fenced in with barbed wire and protected by UN.
Prishtina has a quite infrastructurally chaotic centre but its very nice and filled with small and large mosqes (old and new). There is a big presence by UN personel and soon EU. In Ljubljana we met a woman who just got a job in the new EU body in Kosovo; her assignment will be to prepare new Kosovan laws to EU standards. Here in Kosovo (or, Kosova in Albanian) they have been using Euros as official currency for quite some time now.
Marjetica Potrc (LHE organizer, and artist from Ljubljana) took us around the city centre to look at how some of the inhbitants of Prishtina find architectural solutions to spatial challenges… The diversity in the urban fabric is predominant in most the city. (again there’s a lack of visual documentation from my side…)
Oh, and bought two compilation CD’s with hiphop from Kosovo. Good to dance to.
On another note, I’m starting to get a bit tired of this city-hopping strategy of this trip. I never get to really meet the people I talk to. And it must be quite frustrating for our (very welcoming, nice and interesting) ‘hosts’ that these ‘urban experts’ just drop in for a few days and head off to another place in the region before travelling back home with our (mostly) EU/US passports…
Wow. already ten days since i last posted.
Now in Skopje, trying to get the pix off my phone so you can see where i’m at… hopefully it will happen soon.
Short highlights-update from Zagreb to Skopje:
In Zagreb, other than the alread scheduled program, Kati, Kasper and I had a very nice trip up the mountain with a cable car. It was so foggy that we didin’t see anything else than the clouds surrounding us. Surreal. Then a walk through the semi-abandoned, semi-used fair area.
Was great living at Gordans place. Nice penthouse flat up in the hills.
Took the train to Novi Sad where we spent time at kuda.org . Had some interesting presentations of the city through the conceptual lens of recreational activities.
Sauturday we desperately tied to find a party in order to celebrate our friend who turned 30 that day. but without any luck. Day after we sailed down the Danube (Donau) on a river taxi and had a walk through the so called ‘valley of the thieves’; fantastically strange summer houses on illegally grabbed land built by people who profitted from tumultuous privatization of state businesses in the 90’s. (images to come)
On to Beograd. Strong experience to enter such a modern city: big concrete highrises of Novi Beograd where we stayed in the Studenski Grad. Had a great guided tour (in car) by Dubrovka, who is assistent at the archidoodle school. She alo took us dancing at a boat club in the Sava river. On the guided tour we saw many interesting architectural phenomenons. (Again, more to see when in get my pix up here.)
After Beograd some fellow travellers already had to leave. Kati to vienna, Meg to Boston, Ursula and Auke to the coast. Hope to meet them all again.
On our way to Skopje we stopped for dthe night in the small village of Vladicin Han. Where urban planner Susanna showed us around. Amongst other things in this seemingly desolate place we saw the house of famous
gipsy balkan brass music star Boban Markovic (excuse my spelling).
We got a ride (in a car for the first time on the trip) with architect Giulia from Rome and artist Laia from Barcelona. Great to actually experience the last part of the highway that was of Brother hood and Unity and now leads to contemporary capital of Mcadonia: Skopje.
When we arrived to Skopje friday noon, we joined the others at an amazing lake situated in a beautiful gauge in the mountains above the city. There was picnic and the hosts from press to exit project space had arranges a two-person elvis cover band. A great combination of nature and culture.
Then we wet to the best party yet on this trip and jumped around till late. People here sure knows how to throw a nice party. Thanks!
This morning we had a walk through the city with artist Oliver Musovik, who showed us small and large irregularities in the urban fabric and told us the history of the city’s development after the devastating earthquake of 1963. There’s some marvelous modern buildings here. (Hopefully some pictures of that too soon.)
It must seem pretty superficial to read these short blurps, but I really haven’t have time to reflect too much myself about the places we’ve visited, people we met, and my fellow travellers and our situation. Other than perhaps that it’s a learning experience on many levels, and that I feel very grateful to our hosts in the different cities for their hospitality and sharing of knowledge. I just hope that I can go beyond just grabbing info contribute with some reflected response to the situations we’re in, but also respond critically to the whole set up of this trip. (More on this topic later…)
Ok, i leave you here and hopefully write more when i get to an internet station.
Tomorrow or the day after we had up to Prishtina … and then afterwards make a stop at lake Ohrid on our way to Tirana.
Sastipnjase! (cheers in romani)
Okay, a little more details…
I`ll start with a few days a go with my travels to Ljubljana:
After a super nice bicycle trip around the Neusiedler See in Burgenland, Austria I came back to Vienna friday evening very tired. Then packed all my stuff and slept a few hours before jumping on the train Saturday morning at 8.00 going to Ljubljana. Arrived well some six hours later and then Kasper, my travel companion amongst others, joined me a few hours later.
So, then we were there and the next day the program of the LHE (Lost Highway Expedition - a problematic name, I know) started with introductions at Gallery Skuč.
More on the program can be seen here (when it works): http://europelostandfound.net
A few impressions from the three day stay in Ljubljana: met a lot of new people already, although there was only about 20 or so joining the LHE the first day. The next day the number was already doubled.
People came from different countries adn most are `research architects`, urbanists or scientist. A few artist also showed up though.
In Ljubljana we were mostly introduced to different, what they called “autonomous zones”: Europe`s largest shoping centre (BTC City), rural village enclosed by urban Ljubljana, and some interesting self-organized squat, hosting cultural activites.
I realize now, whilst writing that I need much more time (in front of computer) to write something intersting about these experiences. But I can say for now that it was interesting, and a good first impression of Ljubljana.
This afternoon, Kasper and I took the train to Zagreb, wher Kati joined us, and we got picked up by Gordan, who`s place in the hills above the city is our base for the next 3 days.
The trip here was beautiful, with the clouds smothering the mountains that we rode through. Kasper was a little regretful that we didn´t bring folding bikes…
So, the first posting from Kasper and my trip around what is called the Western Balkans. Arrived well in Ljubljana two days ago. All is well. more later.