Josip Broz – better known as Tito – reigned over Yugoslavia for 35 years. He was not only the revolutionary Partisan who defended his homeland against fascism and overpowered stalinism but also the statesman who praised brotherhood and unified his compatriots with his idea of a different South Eastern Europe: On the bases of an independent non-aligned communism, Tito and his fellows realized their version of a socialistic federation – the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. With the authority of a dictator and the charm of a great commander, with the power of oppression and the freedom to travel, Tito appealed to his people and the world in a highly controversial way. After he died in 1980, Yugoslavia gradually collapsed and finally broke down in 1991. But, nowadays, is the remembrance of Tito and Yugoslavia suffering from amnesia or facing a historical reality?
What came after the collapse – the recent past with its tremendous events and the current social reality in the states of former Yugoslavia – often leads to an image of Tito emerging in society as a heroic figure and a representation of the era of non-aligned communism, which conducts to a (yugo)nostalgic transfiguration of memories: Tito survived and still lives on in the minds – as a symbol for »the good old times«. But how does the young generation knowing Tito only from textbooks and the memories of their parents and their grandparents respond to this balancing act between historical facts, mythical romanticization and amnesia? During their whole lives, TITO WAS NOT HERE. For the most time of their lives, Yugoslavia did not exist. How does this generation encounter that controversial figure and that glorified time whose de facto absence is actually an ongoing narrative presence?
The project TITO WAS NOT HERE deals with literary and performative interventions of a South Eastern European past and present beyond public discourses: Emerging young writers from all former Yugoslavian countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia) and Germany were kindly invited to explore this issue in literary texts and to submit these literary explorations to this open call. A jury of experts – Doruntina Basha (Albanian), Lili Mihajlović (Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian) and Gjoko Zdraveski (Macedonian) selected 6 texts by Sandra Lalić-Zupur (BiH), Kristina Posilović (Croatia), Vesa Qena (Kosovo), Danka Sekulović (Serbia), Ajla Terzić (BiH) and Maja Vaseva (Macedonia). Some of these texts will be used for a performative intervention by a group of 7 performing artists from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Macedonia. Finally the performance will be shown on September 21 and 22, 2012 in Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The selected writers will be invited to this performance weekend and introduced to the audience in a panel and in a public reading.
Both the texts and the performances attempts a different and a differing Performing of Yugoslavia in the 21st Century based on individual approaches by the young generation. The program aims to advance critical artistic approaches to a mutual past and to support artistic collaborations and networking between former Yugoslavian regions that rarely cooperate in terms of cultural exchange.