Mikser Festival 2012, Savamala
MIKSER is a multidisciplinary platform which centres around the affirmation of cultural industry of the Balkans and the organization of the biggest regional festival of creative arts.
MIKSER FESTIVAL - in 2012, the international festival which celebrates creativity and innovation is moving from the Zitomlin silo to the magical, neglected, industrial district in the heart of Belgrade: Savamala. It is well known that with the development of explosive projects such as MIKSER, there is a difficulty in avoiding its premature fruition, and with it an eventual entry into the framework of the predictable, a loss of freshness, a relaxation of a lulled management which easily slips into the paradigm of that which it originally fought against. It seems certain that continuous searching and ceaseless challenges are the only way with which the vigour and strength of an enterprise can be preserved, and that is exactly what MIKSER has done with its choice of Savamala as its future festival location. Or at least, it’s firmly convinced that it has!
Savamala is far removed from the image of a hidden-away, isolated riverfront toponym, which offers up an unobtrusive connection between architecture, art and the public. It is, in fact, full of people who wreak havoc to it, pollute and abuse it. Savamala hasn’t got an already established festival space - it is one huge urban, historical and ideological dispersion.
In this sense, Savamala is like a laboratory for us – a miniature city of the one we live in, in which contradiction and the illogical are the characteristics of the system (which nevertheless manages to operate) and in which chaos represents the main catalyst of content. Mikser festival doesn’t intend to curb this urban agitation, but instead to join it onto the existing micro-system; so it can question, cooperate, react, analyse the pre-existing social, architectural, economic and political categories, but also make a bit of noise, which will lead on to the creation of new movements within the established state of things. Mikser festival is uncovering the key spots in Savamala, with the help of existing institutions, as well as the people who live and work there. Yet, it also highlights the systematic problems which are sadly not only evident in this part of the city (the Belgrade cooperative, better known as Geozavod, Vucina kuca…).
Massive changes within the festival (the change in location and the lengthening of the programme from five to nine days), have had an effect on the change of its format. The state of things as we found them has given us certain parameters within which to work, so that this year, architecture, town planning, visual arts and design will make up the main part of the programme’s content, with an emphasis on site-specific interventions, workshops, performances. The festival, thus, ceases to be a static form – instead, it becomes a part of the uncertainty of constant movement and reacts to the established. Savamala, acting as a laboratory, gives us the space for working and experimenting, for risk-taking, but also for success.
The symbiosis of Savamala and Mikser festival is reflected in the concept of the programme – we are departing from the divisions according to zones. The program consists of a web of individual, interdisciplinary artist/curator projects, and each project consists of more than one segment: an exhibition, lectures, workshops and concerts. The festival has always promoted young creative, parallel to established guests from Serbia and the rest of the world. In 2012, the festival intensifies the promotion of young people, with a string of open competitions from the field of architecture, design, music, visual arts (Ghost Project & YBD: GET REAL!, Urban Bundle/City Gatherings, Garage Roll Call...), as well as open workshops, lectures, debates and a creation of new site-specific creations.
Working with the locals (the ‘Savamalians’, as one of the area’s old residents calls them), the borough of Savski Venac and the City of Belgrade, is integral to the definition of the model and strategy of the festival, and the year 2012 is only the beginning of this long-term project. The aim of the festival is to give back to Savamala its once-held status of the cultural and social epicentre of the city. Similar independent initiatives of transformation of neglected urban sites into progressive creative districts, prove that grand architectural projects are not always necessary to bring about meaningful urban interventions: The Tortona zone in Milan is visited by more than 100,000 people during the Milan design fair, while the Tribeca Film Festival manages to squeeze in around 200,000 visitors into the small but charming part of the city.
Savamala - take two. It will be exhausting and won’t happen overnight. One day, when the trucks have all left and once the facade of the most stunning palatial building in the city (that of the Belgrade cooperative, founded in 1907) regains its original shine and splendour, MIKSER will pack up and move on. To a place where it is least expected.