A proposal to do five public performances and a video documentary to research the “development” and “modernization” accompanying the rise of the tourism economy in Podgorica, Montenegro, a country on track to be part of the EU.
Savic Rasovic [a.k.a Pirun a.ka. Sasha a.k.a Member of the Institute for Infinitely Small Things] was invited to represent Upgrade! Boston at the 3rd Upgrade! International: Chain Reaction, Skopje, Macedonia; September 11-14, 2008. There, he performed How Do You Take Your Coffee?/Kakvu piješ kafu?, a public action in Skopje’s Old Bazaar. The Institute hopes to expand this performance to a series of actions in Montenegro.
We were told by an arts funding agency that they did not see how this was art, hence they could not fund it. Nevertheless, we still want to do the project.
The Institute, along with Montenegrin group Creative Cluster propose to hold public coffee time – kafenisanje – at sites that do not exist anymore. For example: in the parking lot of a gas station that used to be an Institute member’s childhood home. Anyone who would like to have coffee with us is welcome. We would use kafenisanje as a public forum for dialogue about place, development and local changes.
Podgorica, Montenegro, is an Eastern European capital undergoing rapid changes: names of public spaces, branding, architecture, and demographics. Entire sections of the city are being razed to the ground and rebuilt as “better” and more “modern”. The flow of capital and the growth in population are unprecedented. Media and public institutions bombard the public with terms such as: “international”, “European”, “modern”, “developed”, “financial and cultural center of Montenegro”. Although “transparency” is another word of the day, decision-making power is concentrated in the hands of a few people who have political, financial and international connections.
What is happening to history and what new histories are being created right now? In order to research these questions, The Institute for Infinitely Small Things (USA) and Creative Cluster (Montenegro) propose How Do You Take Your Coffee?/ KAKVU PIJEŠ KAFU? as a series of five public performances in five different places in Podgorica over the course of ten days. Each performance will last 3-4 h and will be based on the Montenegrin custom of social coffee drinking (kafenisanje). Traditionally, each coffee is made individually to suit personal taste. This requires time commitment from both the hosts and the guests. At each performance, the artists, their guests and members of the general public will enjoy kafenisanje and share personal stories of the place, common histories as well as thoughts about the future.
Site is extremely important to this project. Each performance will take place at a different social or domestic space that was changed recently and erased from the maps (for example, Savic Rasovic’s childhood home is now a gas station and a local graveyard is now a soccer stadium). In commemorating what once was, we are acknowledging and pointing out what is often neglected. We will question the notion of “better” and “development” and raise issues that are not being talked about openly or are neglected by a financially developing city. These conversations will also serve as a catalyst for raising awareness of other places in the city that underwent or are undergoing a similar fate.
All the performances will be videotaped and documented. This documentation will be freely available online at the project’s website. The cost of internet in Montenegro is quite high and due to a humble amount of internet users in Podgorica we hope to reach more people through print.
The ultimate goal of the project is to produce a coffee-table book which could be freely distributed to libraries, participants, museums, schools, city offices, bookstores, and art groups in Podgorica.