GOETHE-GUERILLA BECOMES CITY GUERILLA
In the past five consecutive years, five generations of Goethe-Guerilla members have managed to leave a significant trace in the cultural life of Belgrade and Savamala through their creative research and many socially engaged projects and actions. They have established a valuable network of communication and cooperation with various young and talented individuals and groups, as well as with the residents of Savamala, which has been the main contemplative frame of their work in the past three years.
Originally created as a part of an Institution, Goethe-Guerilla has become a well-known platform for individuals to express their creativity and enthusiasm in dealing with inconsistencies, trying to create a better environment for themselves and other citizens. Being a member of the “Guerilla” group has become a strong connection point, generator of creative ideas and a synonym for activism, teamwork, creativity and open-minded approach.
Transforming the Goethe-Guerilla into the CITYGUERILLA was the next logical step in developing this powerful platform. After years of improving the project methodology and establishing the idea of uniting young creative minds in “fighting” against indifference, negligence, ignorance and alienation, the Guerilla has come to a point when it already gathers a significant number of individuals, former and current members, who are more than willing to devote their time and energy in making the Guerilla Project even more open to new people and possibilities. Adhering to the same principles, but as a completely open and independent platform, City-Guerilla has a new perspective and a chance to attract a wider audience.
Currently, the City-Guerilla operates as an informal group, parallel to the fifth generation of Goethe-Guerilla, which continues to develop their own ideas supported by the Goethe-Institute as the previous generations did. Goethe-Guerilla members can participate in these workshops and projects conducted by the City Guerilla and eventually become a part of CG themselves. By the end of 2014, CG will work on several projects, actions and workshops in Savamala with the support of the Urban Incubator Association.
When one says “guerillaˮ, people most often think about small armed groups using unconventional means for fighting against a bigger enemy. Even though this definition is correct, nowadays it has been broadened getting new meanings. The essence of the term remains the same, but the meaning has changed: contemporary guerillas, most often found in urban environments, act in creative and untypical ways. They are independent small groups, differing from the original guerillas in their peaceful way of acting. Guerilla gardening, guerilla marketing, guerilla filmmaking are just some of these phenomena. The GG is a new member of this family.
With their actions and ideas this group of young people, supported by the Goethe-Institut, tries to turn attention of the public to some problems troubling inhabitants of the city. Besides, the members of this group advocate cultural development in their and other cities.
GROUP FORMING AND TEAMBUILDING
The members of GG are selected once a year. The group consists of about ten young people of different profiles and interests who are not acquainted with each other. New members are chosen by the ex-Guerilla members who, at the same time, organize team-building activities for the new members. After a short team-building phase, a research phase follows, as well as the field (street) exploration. Through the interaction between the former and the current members, as well as artists and those who see themselves as less creative, a new kind of creativity emerges creating basis for initial project ideas.
During the year the group goes through the entire process from the development of an idea, planning (division of responsibilities, allocation of funds, procurement of materials), to the project realization and its presentation in the public.
The GG operates in several cities. Apart from Belgrade, Pristina, Sarajevo, Skopje and Zagreb, new members have recently been added to our GG family: Herceg Novi, Budapest, Athens, Krakow and Vilnius. In these cities young Guerilla members do various actions in the fields of music, fine arts, writing, society, language etc. These actions are free and independent, the most common topic being the city itself. The members of GG often collaborate with groups from other countries. Such collaborations yield very interesting projects, showing at the same time peculiarities and similarities between different cities and their respective Guerilla groups.
Furthermore, the Guerillas collaborate with German artists on different projects. The specific quality of GG is reflected in the existence of two levels – the visible and the invisible. The invisible level is a process that takes place during the year within the group itself, whereas the visible represents results in terms of completed projects arising from the dynamics of an internal process. It is therefore natural that the results (the projects and the activities) differ every year in accordance with the nature of the current group.
A SHORT HISTORY
The idea for creating the GG was conceived in Belgrade in 2010 – the year the Goethe-Institut Belgrad celebrated its 40th anniversary in this city. Entering into its fifth decade of existence, the wish to rejuvenate the institute was born, that means, to involve young people interested to devise various cultural programs and actions supported by the Goethe-Institut. Besides, members of such a group would help the institute to get a closer insight in needs and interests of young people in Belgrade. That is why, in 2010, the first generation of GG was founded in Belgrade. The 22 GG pioneers realized numerous projects leaving a trace in Belgrade´s cultural life. The virtual Museum of Yugoslavian Ships, speed-dating in German and puppets in forgotten placesin the city are just some examples of those actions.
NO LIMITS TO THE GUERILLA IDEA
In the following year, the guerilla spirit had already spread to other institutes in the Balkans, and GGs were, besides Belgrade, founded in Pristina, Sarajevo, Skopje and Zagreb. Two regional meetings were held, the first in July in Ohrid and the second on Jahorina in December. The guerillas from the region met and presented their recent actions done in the respective cities. Furthermore, they agreed future collaborations and realizations of mutual projects.2011 was rich in actions.
The members of the second GG in Belgrade realized, among others, “Another perspective of the cityˮ, “Trashophonic orchestraˮ, and founded the first Open Library in Belgrade. The guerillas from Pristina conducted the action “More places for allˮ. Members from Sarajevo did the projects “Taxi facesˮ and “All in oneˮ. The Macedonian Guerilla organized “Trialogue: our cityˮ, while the GG from Zagreb realized the action “In-between placesˮ.
2012 brought another new GG generation to be active in the aforementioned cities, and at the beginning of July, their first regional workshop was held in Herceg Novi. Thanks to a restless and unlimited guerilla spirit, last year five new GG groups were founded – in Herceg Novi, Athens, Budapest, Krakow and Vilnius. In September, the first international workshop supported by the EU-programme “Youth in Actionˮ was held in Wolfenbüttel, Germany, where members of the GG from Sarajevo, Belgrade, Budapest and Vilnius met with a group of young German cultural activists.
FOCUSING ON SAVAMALA
The members of the Third Generation Belgrade Guerrilla decided to focus their actions on Savamala, a Belgrade neighbourhood, which was completely neglected at that time. During 2012, they realized a number of projects in the Savamala area, including a “Savamala Off-Guideˮ, a “Cleaning Flash Mobˮ, the exhibition “Savamala – Encountersˮ, a city walk called “Savamala Flânerieˮ, and, in collaboration with a group of artists from Berlin under the direction of Wolfgang Kraus and Sylvia Lorenz, they contributed to the programme of the “October Salonˮ, the largest exhibition of contemporary art, which was that year held in Savamala.
URBAN INCUBATOR ASSOCIATION
In 2013, the fourth generation of Belgrade Guerrilla has been operating within the Urban Incubator: Belgrade, a project dedicated to the revitalization of the Belgrade neighbourhood Savamala. GG14 is the fifth consecutive generation of the Goethe-Guerilla and the third focused especially on this historically important but rather neglected city quarter. During 2014, in collaboration with former guerilla members and the UIA, they developed new ideas and ways to comprehend the very unique spirit of Savamala.