Iva Radmila Jankovic
CHANGE REALITY. RENAMING THE STREETS OF ZAGREB
translated from Croatian by Vinja Rogoic
In his literary-essayistic studies about spaces that determine us as
individuals and as a community, Georges Perec defines the street morphologically,
as a "space framed by houses, usually on its longer sides; the
street is what separates houses one from another but also enables us
to walk from one house to the other one, down or across the street.
Also, due to the streets we can mark houses. There are different methods
of marking, today in our region the most widespread method is to name
the streets and number the houses: naming the streets is extremely complex
and often problematic theme we could write several books about
this is all he mentions about the subject of naming when speaking about
city streets, however, with this short last section of the sentence
he hints at the complexity hidden in the naming process.
RG: We wanted to do something that is directly related with the idea
of this year's festival dedicated to the politics of space and when
we arrived to Zagreb we were interested in what was going on in politics
in the social sphere. We heard that in the last 15 years a lot has occurred
in Croatia. We were interested in history, in the way it is rewritten,
why does the renaming of streets happen? We thought that a good starting
point might be: how to change such a perception? After our first arrival
we have decided to create a collaborative work, wrote a suggestion,
got informed on which non-government organisations exist in Zagreb
RG: As far as we can see some of the new names are truly provocative. The main square, for example, Ban Jelacic Square, is renamed into The Square of the Patriarchy Victims, for example. Other suggestions are more sensitive, react more to a specific situation but we suppose that some of the names will get much attention.
RG: We created the project last year in Leipzig, Germany and this really
isn't typical just for Croatia. What makes Leipzig and Zagreb similar
is a process of transformation from a once socialist and communist system
towards capitalism. Contrast appear, new symbols of power established
by large companies, which become more and more visible in city centres.
On the other side, where today there is lack of identity, once was a
strong aspect creating the identity in the value production system.
Both projects show that in a similar way. In Leipzig it was different
since REINIGUNGSGESELLSCHAFT changed the names. We chose the names such
as: The Street of the Last Worker, The Street of the Unemployed, The
Street of Taxpayers
We worked with sociological, cultural and
political subjects which at that time were characteristic for Leipzig
area. In Zagreb we decided not to do that alone but to leave the decision
abut street names to non-government organisations. It was important
for us to help in making the civil society more conscious of their role
and significance, give them the voice, help with the way they are perceived
in the local context. On the other side, the fact that many organisations
depend on government finances and in a way compete between each other
was interesting for us. There is the possibility to develop certain
contents independently but still they depend on those who finance them.
As we have heard the attention of foreign countries has changed lately.
In the earlier days financial support often came from foreign organisations
which were helping in strengthening the discourse of the minority. Today
it seems that the situation is more complex and more difficult. I think
that the project has brought the idea that all those initiatives can
create a joint platform within the city. The intention was to refresh
the communication between the initiatives.