According to Latvian artist Kriss Salmanis inhabitants of European nations that were once under the influence of the Soviet Union can be easily recognised from other Europeans.
Ask people whether they know Mendelejev’s dream. Those who stare at you with a blank look are West-Europeans and those who confirm the story of how Dmitri Mendelejev came up with the periodic table are former Soviets (or were under the communist influence until the wall came down. Let’s keep it political correct).
There it is, that’s how simple life can be.
We’re at Florencia, an ice cream parlour in the centre of The Hague. Florencia is an icon in The Hague. Its original Italian owners make authentic Italian ice cream which is yummy. It’s also a place known as a meeting point for locals of different social backgrounds who drink cheap coffee with milk or eat one of the simple egg sandwiches.
It’s ten o’clock a.m. and we’re here to talk about our dreams. It’s an initiative by Serbian artist/curator Anica Vucetic.
In Serbia it’s common during breakfast to discuss dreams you’ve had the night before.
Anica and Kriss are joined by Polish artist/curator Janek Simon. They have been invited by the Alternative Art Guide and Wander to come to The Hague in an effort to find out how they perceive what is important in contemporary art from their local standpoint and to meet and exchange ideas with professionals from The Hague.
It seems a simple objective but it’s hard to imagine what drives an idea about contemporary art with only superficial knowledge about someones background. It’s like imagining what goes on in a man’s head while only knowing his occupation and the town he has come from.
This meeting is one of the first attempts to find out more.
Anica is connected to Third Belgrade, an initiative from Belgrade named after the geographical position of the building. That seems to be at least one clear universal similarity between art spaces. Their name often refers to their geographical placement. W139 in Amsterdam is the shortcut for the address of this legendary art run space/ art institute and Nest (where I work) is based in a building called The DCR, at the De Constant Rebecque square. I guess wherever we are in the global art world, when it comes to something important like a name we quickly refer back to the practical, avoiding the search for a name that covers the idea of our organisation. Probably for the best as it provides the opportunity to develop ideas without getting stuck in an initial thought.
Anyhow, let’s get back to the dreams.
Anica’s dream session is an introduction into ways of Third Belgrade. As Third Belgrade consist of a loose group of artists with a varying background, discipline and ideas sleepovers were organised.
By sleeping together it was believed that the dreams at night would mix and the individuals within the group would dream a more collective dream.
The collective seems important. Even those who do not know much about Serbia, know about the horrific period Serbia and the other former Yugoslavian countries have gone through. It seems paradoxal that there is a desire for the collective when the collective of nations has failed to such a degree. At the same time Anica defies that the desire for the collective comes from political motives. She states it’s the opposite. She feels the desire to avoid political statements. Her practice is more to find rest away from a troubled reality and the collective provides hope for those that are looking for a better future.
In a way the comfort of a small collective seems a political act in order to flee from political realities and to seek for a better world in the dialogue with others within the secluded place that Third Belgrade maybe offers.
When we think of sharing dreams we think of the positive and beautiful ones.
And looking at what nightmares are on offer already, maybe we should keep it this way.