Stephen Kovats on Thu, 10 Jul 1997 12:39:35 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> Re:On Tesla, Media, and Yugoslav Dada....

On Tesla, Media, and Yugoslav Dada

(selected brief excerpts of interviews in the service of ostranenie conducted by
Stephen Kovats in June between Belgrade and Sarajevo. Videotext transcriptions
by Sarah Corbitt, North Carolina. Some names may not be spelled properly,

Jelena Jovovic, of Radio B92, Belgrade,Yugoslavia
Friday, 30.05.97, 14.45

SK: Can you give me an overview of the activities of Radio B92:  there's video
production that goes on here as well, and you publish magazines?
B92: Magazines, yes, magazines, but not daily papers, only cultural magazines.
We also publish some books. The latest is the book on the TV serial, serial X,
have you seen it?
SK:  C - A - X ?
B92: X Files. X Files, yes. X Files, that is the latest book that we've
published. We also have the music production. We publish CD's of known and less
known groups from Belgrade and Serbia. We have Cinema Rex where we perform some
festivals, performances, and also sorts of art. I'm sorry, I have to stop here
because I have to speak.


B92: ... Radio B92 is not a private organization, we are not the state, we are
an independent organization that is not, I can't say we are sponsored by Soros
or some other organization. We live not so much of the commercials, but of all
other actions that we run in the radio.
SK: The Bauhaus, like B92, in a short period of existance, has developed a very
strong mythology. Nobody knows Radio Index, everybody knows Radio B92. 
B92: I am glad.
SK: Why is there such a strong mythology about Radio B92?
B92: Because it's something different, and now it's something completely
different, it's Radio B92. Radio Index are like copycats. O.K. I am just
kidding, it's not copycats. It's something, we do it first and then they do it.
I don't know. Maybe it's just because of the people who work here, you cannot
find them anywhere.
SK: Except here.
B92: Except here, yes. I mean, that is the simplest and the most stupid answer,
but it is answer.
SK: That's good. That's a good way to deal with mythology. And your name?
B92: My name is Jelena Jovovic, and I am the speaker, as you can see.

Vuk Cosic (fresh from the nettime conference), computer room, Radio B92,
Belgrade, Yugoslavia
Friday, 30.05.97, 16.30

SK: The last time I saw you in Ljubljana it seemed there was still only Kud. 
Vuk: It's still there. 
SK: Are Kud and Ljubmila the same thing?
Vuk: No, Kud is only a house where we've rented a room, the d. t. p. studio and
the cyber cafe and stuff like this. Now we've expanded. So, everything is left
in Kud. And there's this one dream locality elsewhere, out in the provinces, the
periphery, the suburbs somewhere. We've got machinery and connectivity and we do
SK: So, you've got a budget also to hire people to work there fulltime as
coordinators and project developers?
Vuk: No way, no way. The three of us are very basic. Marko Peljhan and Luka, who
you will see with dyed red hair, and myself. And we do all this stuff. It means
no sleep, no rest, so I fled here to Belgrade to get some work done. And this
way I will rest.. And there was this nettime conference, it was kind of huge.
SK:  I heard it was very laid back. 
Vuk: Thank God.

Apsolutno Artistic Association (Bojana Petric and Zoran Pantelic), Novi Sad,
Saturday, 31.05.97, 15.50

SK: I'm quite interested in the phenomena of art groups, particularly in the
context of former Yugoslavia where there's a very strong contemporary tradition
of art groups. You know all of them, NSK for example, which has more or less
become a commercial pop icon. What is your reason for constituting yourselves as
a group as opposed to individual artists? 
Zoran: The first thing is that most members of Apsolutno Artistic Association
are coming from a background at the Academy of Fine Arts here. On this level,
the beginning of our career was only on an aesthetic, visual level. This was the
first sign that we must change something. Our experience together has resulted
in a much better quality of production, and of course a bonus experience gained
from psycho-linguistics".
SK: From what?
Zoran: From pyscho-linguistics, basically.
SK: Oh, OK.

Alexander Davic on Tesla, Novi Sad, Yugoslavia
Sunday 01.06.97, 07.10

SK: So, Alexander, before I came to Yugoslavia, I haden't  realized the
connection between Tesla and Yugoslavia.
Alexander: Oh, dear. It's going to be a long story.
Alexander: Actually, I think he started something like physics or electronics in
Graz in Austria, or at that time, Austria-Hungaria. And then I think he worked
something in Budapest, some of his inventions, or actually the ideas came to him
in Budapest.Then he was in Prague, then in Vienna and later started to work for
the European department, of the Edison Company. And after six months, he moved
to the United States, and of course, worked for Edison for a couple of years.
But, later there was something like a split and he started working on his own. 
SK: Could he be considered a pioneer of electronic media, or even of media in a
quasi contemporary manner?
Alexander: Yes. I mean, I think there is something there. One of his inventions
actually, what I've been told, is that he had also been working on the radio.
When Marconi got  the Nobel Prize, it was supposed to be divided between the two
of them but I think Tesla refused, or something like that.
SK:. Is he seen as a national son of some sort?
Alexander: Well, in popular culture... You know, he's something like, I don't
know. He has a very specific position, because in the United States, a lot of
people, have heard about Edison, and not so many people have heard about Tesla.
They have to study something to be connected with Tesla. In Yugoslavia, Tesla is
something like a stereotype of scientific genius, and there is also a strong
nationalistic utopia, like Serbian genius. But I don't think he was a
nationalist. I don't know if this was invented, but it has been often quoted in
the past, for example when we had that Brotherhood and Unity concept" in
ex-Yugoslavia, apparently he said something like, "I am equally proud of my
Croation fatherland, and of my Serbian ethnic origins". They seemed to be on
equal footing.
SK: Ok, that's cool.

Adrienne van Heteren, director of Cinema Rex, Belgrade, Yugoslavia
Sunday 01.06.97, 18.30

Adrienne: The building used to be a cultural center of the Jewish community in
Belgrade, but in 1946, the Jewish community actually gave the building to the
city. This was a little bit unlike what I expected it to be. I saw the building,
which I thought was still owned by the Jewish community, but it belonged to the
city. But from all the signs, the monumental character that you could see that
things had been functioning for the Jewish community. For the last 40 years
since then it has been used for different purposes. It has been used as a
cultural center for elder people, community center for the poor, storage place
for furniture of deceased persons whose families the city couldn't trace or
track down, and they needed a place to store it. It had been used for some time
as a neighborhood cinema. This is where it derives its name from, Cinema Rex, we
continued to keep it. But it is not a cinema at all, anymore. In 1994, there was
a period in which the opposition parties in this part of town had a majority and
could allow  this building to be rented. The only independent media in town was
Radio B92. They rented it with the purpose of establishing a television station.

SK: You don't have problems, any pressures from the government in terms of them
not approving of what you're doing there?
Adrienne: It is starting. It was too marginal until now, for the governent
really to be interested. Now I think there are, paradoxically, within the party
structure of the opposition either envy of the autonomy of this place to the
extent that they want to hurt it, or there are people who really didn't like it.

Nebojsa Seric Soba, Bosnian artist, Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina
Tuesday 03.06.97, 19.15

Soba: There will be no war. There will be no war, I can promise you. Thank you.
SK: Can you guarantee our security?
Soba: Yes, I can guarantee absolutely security to each person in this world. If
everybody in this world gives me one Deutsche Mark, I can promise peace for 24


SK: You're a conceptual artist working in a context of art which is dealing
generally in a very literal sense with the war. 
Soba: As in the exhibition the Face of History", in Beaubourg, an exhibition
about politics in art, my personal attitude is about also same thing, but in my
version, because I felt all these four years of war in Bosnia, and what happened
here I feel it on my back. Sometimes I feel like two guys who had unfortunately
been killed in the first World War; Franz Marc and Marque (spelling unsure),. I
was thinking that in this last war, that the same would happen to me. But it
didn't. Is there any context of war in art? In 1993, on the front, I tried to
make one piece of land art.
SK: What was the idea there, what did you try to do?
Soba: So that was really confrontation between war and art. Basically the idea
was to make confusion, because, it's hard to explain.  What I done, what I
wanted to do was break  the rules of war with art.  With art you can break the
SK: Describe to me briefly what the action was, the Boogie Woogie"
Soba: The Boogie  Woogie pictures, yes. I wanted to dig the trenches, like Piet
Mondrian, his big painting Broadway  Boogie Woogie. The title would have been
Sarajevo Boogie Woogie. It is really representative of the situation of what has
really happened to us here, because we've been in an urban place and that's like
what our behavior should be like in the war.
SK: And you couldn't do the piece?
Soba: I couldn't do it because it was forbidden to make a photo and
implementation about that.
SK: And what kind of reception do you get for your work? Because generally
speaking, the work that I've been seeing in Sarajevo deals very graphically with
memory of the war in a rather straightforward manner, and your work doesn't
directly have anything to do with it. 
Soba: Yes, that's one of my points, my views on the art. A lot of people have
tried through their art to explain the bad things in the war. I don't want to
explain anything. Because it's impossible to explain. I just want to make a
confrontation between those two things. So, this is really something, because if
you want to make some art piece about war, it shouldn't be just about war as
war. Lots of people try to do that but it's impossible if you are not on the
face of the place. That's really hard to explain. 
SK: That's good. 
Soba:  I'm not used to doing interviews.
SK: Well, you've got to get used to it if you're going to be an artist. Just
tell me who you are, what your name is.
Soba: My name is Seric Nebojsa Soba, I am an artist in Sarajevo, and I hope I
will still be. 
Short Break for Cyclist, Discussion Pause
Soba: Their religions, they're almost the same. They believe in the same thing,
actually, the same idea, of a man who will give his life,  who will sacrifice
his life so that human kind will improve, do something better.
SK: That's one reason why few of us can really understand it. 
Soba: None of us can understand why they have been doing that. They are shooting
on their own people here in Sarajevo. About forty percent of people in Sarajevo
are also Serbs. They are shooting their own people all the time, so what's the
SK: I think you should not try to find any logic in it.

Branimir Jovanovic, Director of  the Nikola Tesla musuem, Belgrade, Yugoslavia
05.06.97, 11.25

Branimir: Ok, this is one of Tesla's machines, Tesla's famous coil, produced by,
an engineer who is associated with the museum. So the idea of the museum is to
try to connect engineers with artists and incorporate, as with the example of
this machine, to  reproduce technology, and try to make sculpture which will be
functioning. One of the problems with designing these machines is that the
engineer doesn't take too much care about design and how these machines look.
Artists generally are interested in shape, not in technology. So, I believe that
in connecting them we can get very good results. Tesla himself was an example of
an engineer who took care about the design, so, inspired by Tesla himself, we
have this idea which we want to be a free adventure where the artist can produce
whatever he wants, taking care about some technological rules. 

return to Dessau, 05.06.97, 14.30

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