20th May, Actopolis Apartment
Marijana Cvetković from the initiative Stanica has produced a very compelling piece of writing about the phenomenon of Druga Scena, one of the first self-organized umbrella platforms. The organization was active in Belgrade between 2005 and 2012. It brought together a number of individuals and groups that were dedicated to the critical analysis and political assessment of the predominantly neoliberal processes, along with the distortion of collective memory, that occurred in Serbian society during that time. In the post-Milošević era, a collective endeavour espousing a leftist political agenda was a rarity. Their goal to overcome denominators such as art and culture, and work within a wider social context.
Druga Scena was never associated with any political party, foundation, or donor, and slowly came to an end, with many of its members migrating out of Serbia. As one of the key reasons for the organization to perish, a number of members Marijana Cvetković had spoken to stated that it was due to their open anti neoliberal narrative which went head on against the ideology shift and cultural policies at the time.
Marijana Cvetković invited Jelena Vesić, art theoretician and activist, and Marko Miletić, member of the Kontekst collective, to further discuss Druga Scena with the audience. The issues raised concerned the notion of knowledge as a public good, precarious work conditions, and the changes language use - terms and narratives used when talking about societal and cultural events - that eventually led to Druga Scena being mostly left out of major conversations today. Regarding language, the platform’s use of socialist and utopian jargon make it inaccessible to new generations. Some people also characterized the organization as hermetic from its inception and highly exclusive.
In spite of criticisms about the group, one must acknowledge that Druga Scena’s activities around the Magacin space and its analysis of the roots of gentrification in Savamala make it one of the most relevant emancipatory practices in recent history.
During the organization’s active years, it published analyses of and reactions to on-going events. It had produced experience and knowledge that are still applicable today. Although formally shut down, Druga Scena still commands a formidable legacy despite being denied institutional recognition.
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