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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 82 | volume XV | January-February, 2012



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                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 82January-February, 2012
Essays

Balkan Art after the Conflict?

The need of new aesthetics


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Ana Jakimska

As far as the horizon stretches: a dusty road surrounded by vast fields, rich with ripe tomatoes, gigantic sunflowers, and copious corn. The sun, high up in the blue sky, scatters golden beams as if it shines on Gods, not mortals. We hear a little spring as it echoes in the distance, or the waves of the lake crush upon the beach in front of us. Suddenly, the idyllic image is stained with blood: murder, rape, suicide, or another violence suffocates the day, just as the story of every well-known uprising goes. This, of course, is the setting of almost every Balkan movie that has made some kind of break-through abroad. Balkan literature, on the other hand, is rather oriented toward themes from the past and is still dipped in the well of mourning, producing the mother-thou-shall-dig-my-grave aesthetics. The spatio-temporal location is rural, back in the glorious past, where men are heroes who are impeccable and courageous, and women sing their litanies of death and eternal darkness. If we could speak of any XXI century art that has remained so faithful to Thanatos, it would definitely be the Balkan art.
    This kind of image follows the path of the romantic etymology of the term ‘Balkan’ discussed by Maria Todorova, according to which the toponym itself is a combination of the Turkish words for honey (‘bal’) and blood (‘kan’). The Balkan region is always regarded as a wild strap of land untouched by the human hand (presuming that the communities that inhabit the region are still not entirely capable of influencing nature); a place where one could end up murdered for no reason at all. It is challenging to analyze the transformation of the geographical term ‘Balkan’ into a cultural determinant, with the ‘withdrawal’ of Greece and Slovenia, two countries that refused to accept the Balkan as part of their identity. Subtracting the two most developed countries from the regional equation, the image of the Balkan forms under the pressure of poverty, conflict, corruption, and violence.
    Yet, as in the honey and blood equation, the situation is not that black-and-white! The image of the Balkan region and its people also includes the idea of hospitality and the special talent for singing, dancing, and performing, in general. However, is this really the positive half of the image that shows the region in better light, or is it just further proof of the scarce knowledge






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