It’s been a crazy couple of days.
Thursday went by in a flash, two groups working parallel.
Comic group crammed in one small room, steam coming out from their heads out of pure concentration. J The comic has to be done by Friday, so it can be prepared for printing and printed on time. Heads put together – What’s the story you want to tell? What is important for you that people know about this place? About these people…
Stop motion group is all around the village, working in groups. Filming, taking photos, making play-dough figurines, drawing backgrounds… People got up in the crack of dawn (way before breakfast time?!?) to catch just the right light for the one perfect image.
It’s been such a cold day as well, but as an often used rime would say:
„Zima zima e pa šta je
ako je zima nije lav
zima zima pa neka je
ne boji se ko je zdrav“
„Winter, winter and so what
If its winter it’s not a lion
Winter, winter let it be
Who is healthy does not fear“
And we pretend we are not cold all day long, even in the evening when the group gathered around for some talking, reflection, music and singing…
Friday till lunch it was working energy still – finishing comics, scanning them … Some more stop motion magic and amazing ideas about trailers and intros and short movies and … I will just not revile it now in more detail, as you can see it on the street action in Pristina tomorrow:
24th of September,
Mother Teresa Street at 19h
Friday afternoon was free and most of the international participants went to Pristina, but then there were some Zen garden makings and short movie makings as well … and the team was working on connecting all the dots and media coverage, as one of the goals to reach this year was as big visibility as possible. The evening went in this mood more or less too, minus climbing in Dritons house through the window for Bente J Tomorrow, when people spoke about their impressions, the strongest was that Pristina might not be the prettiest city in the world but for sure has a unique and interesting energy.
Yesterday, Saturday, was one of those days that – make you or brake you.
You know, that point in the project when things start complicating themselves and plans fail, circumstances change and it’s up to improvisations and never ending energy … Well it was one of those days 🙂 So much work, but then how it also goes on project, after everyone pulled their end the best they could – things come back together and ended up better than you could ever imagine. So on that note, the day ended late with : finished comic in 4 languages (Albanian, Romani, Serbian and English) ready for printing and some stop motion movies finished or near the end.
After some records in sardine sleeping (7) in now a bit (or more that a bit:) messy room, to be honest – a new day came through yellow drapes. Sunshine on my face, sparkling on drops that are lazily sliding down, after washing in ice cold water, that felt like frozen from ridiculously cold night before. Mmm … Sipping coffee and looking across the orange brick wall at, by now, familiar scenery – power plants in smoke, on work, like always … I cannot help but think how use to the view I am by now and not nearly as freaked out, or how the smell is gone or actually I cannot smell it any more … in 10 days … imagine a life time here … Yesterday I had a conversation with Sedat about his family and kids and why people marry early sometimes here, and he told me: „You know, we Gypsies, we don’t live so long so we don’t really have time to wait for anything …“ These words came back to me again now, on this orange wall while I fully realize that there is nothing humans cannot get used to, if they have to. I know I am on and on about these plants, but it’s so sub real that your mind just takes you there whether you want it or not.
Today before lunch (delicious by the way as always – thanks to our amazing cooks, helped during the weekend by one of the young granddaughters in the family) some creative street art was going on. Have you ever glued art to walls by wallpaper glue? Well, come see Dritons house in the mahala and see for yourself! Also some working on the t-shirts and sticker designs, and of course the stop motion magic is full on! But what was especially cool was how the day started, making trailer in stop motion with ourselves and taking group photos, Go Plementins!!!
And now Arta Gashi, the Kosovo/UK performance artist and an amazing friend by the way 🙂 is doing her theater workshop. The group went to the working house to practice and I can almost hear them from here under the tree in Zen garden, so I just have to join, sorry 🙂 but see you on the street action tomorrow evening, or if you cannot come to Pristina you can follow us on FB and Blog…
Can’t wait for the reflection groups tonight to share some feelings and thoughts about our work, my group is the best by the way: P
…today was a process of developing the many ideas and starting to put them into comic stripes and stop motion videos…
Finally, we are really into the working process, I will give you an impression: In front of the house there is a big table covered with sheets of papers and pencils. The about 15 comic artists are sitting around, quiet and very concentrated, trying out what Pjotr is showing on the flipchart. It is about drawing faces and face expressions, bodies and figures, buildings in the right perspective. The results are sticked to the brick-wall next to the table, a collection of small pieces, drawings and ideas. You can see monster-like creatures, strange buildings and smiling power plants. In the afternoon the groups starts to use the techniques of drawing and expressions to create small stories – now it is about finding a story and planing it for the format of comic.
Inside the house the stop motion group has collected a big mindmap of issues that have raised during discussions, films and theatre the last two days and decided on what the small groups want to work on. Then they have to create their own equipment, which is for stop motion, if you are not working outside, the trickbox. This is a carton with a scenery in the back, light from the sides and the top and open to the front where the camera is installed – a mini-world in which everything is build out of different materials like clay, paper or materials from outside. With every photo figures are moved a little bit, and all the pictures put together to 10 to 15 per second give a stop motion video – a lot of work indeed! Together the group tries out a little scene with moving clay figures – if I should take a photo of that it would look like this: a dark room, people standing around a small lighted carton box, one taking pictures and another moving the small colorful figures some milimetres each time. Three local girls joined in the afternoon and soon were part of the teams building the figures or discussing about the different scenes in the stories. The working languages are now English, Serbian and Spanish – Mui as well as some of the local participants speak Spanish.
When, yesterday, in the groups it was still about introducing and having some impressions of the technics that we are going to use, this evening we can see small teams in stop motion and comic artists that are pretty much familiar with the techniques and start to plan and realize the topics and projects they will follow the next days. Being eager to start doing something yesterday, today was a process of developing the many ideas and starting to put them into comic stripes and stop motion videos.
The evening is foreseen for the international participants to spent in their host families and meet them – so after dinner the place is quite soon empty. Tomorrow is gonna be another full day in the workshops, creating the comics and stop motion videos for and as Art in Action!
Where art and action meet, magic begins!
Another day started, second full day for the project. Ran out of my sleeping bag from the room of 6 people or six sardines, depends how you look at it. J To bread some air and once again I am woken up to this image – such beautiful village, such beautiful people, such ugly scenery in the back ground. Last night the smoke was really bad, suffocating. If you leave anything outside for longer than few minutes it get covered in greasy dirt, white clothes get gray … We call it “cloud factory” but I cannot help but wonder what happens to the health of the people living here? There are some calculations about high percentage of deaths and cancers and the level of pollution being 17 times bigger than EU standards. In reality nobody knows for sure. Many wonder, but not many are interested and in the same time capable to actually do research – not that big surprise I guess.
On the brighter note, the smoke is white this morning and there is no smell, so we are enjoying the first sunny day. The team gathers around the breakfast and coffee Kafu and Vlada made for us. We are discussing the plans for the day and the first participants slowly arrive. This is a special day, we divide into groups for workshops of comic and stop motion and everybody is exited. After the experts make a joke ”negotiation“ and ”licitation” for participants 🙂 everybody is happy. We get to work followed by eyes of our fist door neighbors, a flock of turkeys that make our plenaries real fun, as the louder we get the louder they get. Maybe they are just trying to communicate.
Ica says that the blue male looks like an alien and he is kind of really proud and bosses around his 2 square meters of kingdom.
So it’s time to move from Driton´s house to Avni´s house where we are working. On our way the drawings of our faces wave hello and the adventure begins.
Workshops are full On, everybody was waiting to put into the practice the inspiration they got. Kafu and Mirsad made all the preparations of materials, the tea is slowly boiling. Now Ica & Pjotr and Agron & Vlada are the stars of the stage. In two rooms many faces mirror eagerness to learn. What’s stop motion, how do you do it, how do we link it to our topic of Roma discrimination? Can I draw? Ica & Pjotor together answer – „Yes everybody can draw“! „That’s great work man, just relax, don’t think too much and let your mind wander and your hand flow. “
Then delicious lunch, potato soup and salad, made for us by Sami´s mother. Yummy …the pot gets empty quickly.
Some rest some play football with the kids from village.
Team meetings, final preparations and off to Bente´s theater workshop on: prejudices, human rights, freedom of movement, access to education and influence of media images.
Some creative human machines where made by all and quite a few fruitful discussions. It’s especially empowering to look at the communication between local and international participants; the second of the two cannot wait to ask all the questions they have.
After some bananas it’s off to reflection groups. The feedback Jovana, Bente and me are bringing is amazing, warm words that make the whole team feel even more like a family. Plus they are all in love with their host families which makes us especially happy.
In the evening, after the diner cooked by Mirsad and Kafu (again yummy) and some fun games, we all watch two movies together.
“One sun one nation” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gxzav15kVkc and
“Never back home” http://romawood.wordpress.com/projects/never-back-home/.
The first is welcomed by many laughs, the project of local youth supervised by Sami Mustafa. The second, Sami´s baby, leaves everybody silent for some moments. I can see faces reevaluating everything they take for granted in their lives. Some are mad, some just sad, but the conversation that follows later with Sami is not a happy one.
Until of course, like all people in the whole region do, it just turns to jokes. The biggest defense mechanism of people here and also a skill needed to survive all the political power trips we are all victims off.
Slowly the yard gets empty and we go to sleep even more determined to do our small best to change something for the better. Because in the end, as my favorite quote goes: „ Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.“
It smells like food, the team is sitting and planing the afternoon, and, in time and as ordered (thanks to logistic team! ;)) the sun is warmly shining on our heads again.
Yesterday evening Art in Action started with a welcoming, and after all the preparation it feels so good to have 21 motivated participants here, standing in a circle that was really big (on lists names do always look less than in reality, as Jovana said…). Why are they here? They want to learn about comics and stop motion, they want to meet people and learn about life circumstances and culture and people in Plemetina, they are interested in topics like environment, … Many of them already have experiences in artistic fields, be it be drawing, theatre, step dance or story writing. This is what makes art in action for me: people with different backgrounds, contributing their skills to a common project which is located in political field as much as in arts field – lets start artivism!!
International participants live in the families in Plemetina – when asking them this morning how their first night was I just got back a big smile – “They are so nice, so kind”.
This morning we started to get to know each other and learn the names. People are very motivated and curious. On the inside of the gate we now have a big purple sheet of paper with lots of small pieces on – we are going to work together intensively for the next days and shared the expectations and hopes concerning art in action project as well as fears and own contributions.
International participants are leaving to explore Plemetina and find out some facts, locations and backgrounds about the village – for instance how many languages are spoken in Plemetina (Link Bentes small article?), where are the social buildings (Plemetina Camp) and what are Kosovo A and Kosovo B? People will walk around, try to find people who can answer them the questions, and so establish first contacts to people as well as collecting some information that they need to work with in the next days. Later in the afternoon we sit all together and the participants from Plemetina correct and complete the collected facts. Participants should perform a Romani song? Ok, no problem, here is a drum and everybody (tries to) sing it!
How do people see and perceive Plemetina when they walk through it for the first time? The groups documented their walk with some photos and tried to show what they found most interesting, inspiring or valuable to show. All of us sit around the computer, discussing these impressions fixed with the camera. The pictures talk about the children and people of Plemetina, about transport and the (hard) possibilities to leave the village. They show the school, waste, houses. They try to catch contrasts and encounters…
I can describe what happens in the sessions we have with the whole group, but should not forget to emphasize that at least as much communication, art and action happens in the breaks: People sit together and talk with every words, language and mimics they know, teach each other body percussion, drumming and dancing, learning songs… Everywhere I look in the garden something happens, and I am really excited about the workshops that will start tomorrow with an introduction.
The evening finally gives a really nice picture: with a small projector projecting on the wall of the house and a number of benches under the roof we opened the art in action cinema and film screening of short movies, documentary and photos from Art in action 1 – with Milicas energy and inspiring words this is the end of a day full of information, creativity and inspiration for the coming days.
My name is Bente, I come from SCI Germany, study in Vienna and work as a volunteer on the topics of discrimination, antigipsyism and theatre of the oppressed. It’s my first time in Plemetina, I am a group leader and will follow the workshops. I am exhausted from today and cannot wait for tomorrow!
Well it’s my second day and the morning just fly by. Breakfast, meetings, preparation, schedule, making lunch, putting up tents … so many things happening paralely. It’s busy, busy all around, everybody doing something. Two participants already arrived, they are off to visit Pristina while we „make stuff done” but not like in this short story J http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mU8H0kR-_Go
And in all this commotion I am about to get the nicest pair of gloves ever! Our comic expert Ica is also a knitting wizard and some custom made glows are being born, nice and colorful. Can’t wait to see what she will do with participants.
In the mean time her co-expert Aros is taking an angel nap, he just arrived last night from Berlin and is gathering energy for tonight when the program officially starts.
Through all this, Vlada, the stop motion expert – is making lunch, he and Agron his co-stopmotioner have everything worked out, mmm tomato pasta – veg only lunches.
And in the end of course dish washing!
So, till tonight …
Arrived last night to Plemetina. It always takes some time for the eyes to adjust.
From Novi Sad, through Belgrade, south Serbia and then Pristina … if you have ever passed this way you can imagine all the differences in scenarios your eyes soak in. If you did not … well you should J Such a big change in Pristina just after a year, it grows and builds up like those thingies that expand ten time their size when put in water or like mushrooms after rain, as grannies would say. Shinny buildings, glass, concrete, commercials … wooow. Then a short car ride and the glass and chrome giants are replaced by very different giants indeed, the coal power plant A and B. As tall, as impressive, as scary? Black smoke gushing through chimneys, mountains of ash, yellow concrete monster spiting its guts to welcome blue skis. That’s fun, sky seems to be blue every time I am coming even if sometimes it seems impossible it can be blue, like a little representation of something so typical for people all over this region – “inat”. Some translate it like “spite“, some like “just because“ or “just opposite“ or “whatever“. The truth is, I would say, that it’s untranslatable. Many “inat” all around this corner of the world, but here in particular it re-amazes me over and over. Here it is – willingness to survive, readiness to laugh, take the brighter side, prevail despite what ever life throws at you.
All this goes through my had as we are entering the village of Plemetina. First the tent settlement -mountains of garbage, like a dumping site almost; then the community building – ruined, half burnet, walls piling; big wall – separating or containing, cannot really tell; unfinished temple – not sure who for; dusty streets; then “mahala” – the Roma settlement and no streets, crocked houses and chicken … In all this mass of faces – most strangely, smiling kids; so many kids – smudged faces and big eyes. Suddenly another thought comes into my mind, these are all images you would see if somebody would do a short TV reportage. Man, does it go deeper than that? I learned just how much deeper in time and am still learning. So you might too J and this blog of ours can be one window.
My name is Lea and I come from already mentioned Novi Sad, a second biggest city in Serbia – nice, makeup(ed) and polished, at least from regional point of view J There, I am for years involved in one of the coolest organization ever – Volunteers center of Vojvodina, yea! There are so many connections between GAIA Kosovo and VCV, in people of course – activists here, activists there, activists everywhere! So this is where this partnership started too. And me – I was for months excited about this project –ART IN ACTION 2!
So here I am in the evening of my first full day, tucked in a blanket in the house in the end of “mahala”, trying to put some impressions into some words. Outside people are laughing, neighbors are gathering to sound of voices and smell of food. The team is cooking after a full day off planning and I am too tempted to join them, so this blog of mine will just have to continue tomorrow, and tomorrow the participants start coming, I cannot wait to all those colors to come in to this painting of ours. So till tomorrow…
In Plemetina, 16th September
Waking up in Plemetina is always specific experience for me. Plemetina is my home town of Kosovo, here is my “family”, my friends, my strength… And after all harsh moments that sometimes I am facing, to stand up and continue I always need Plemetina to hug me, and tell me to move on..
Yesterday I came as a guest, to present GAIA work, on one specific and special project -“ Art in Action”.
…And from today until the end of the project you will have a chance to follow different stories from different people and to feel and imagine what is going on.
Following the Art in Action workcamp in Berlin, which was preparation for the project that is happening now in Plemetina, on 13th of September, prep-team coming from SCI Germany, Volunteer’s Centre of Vojvodina and GAIA Kosovo get together to start preparing Art in Action 2 campaign.
On the first day prep-team had the chance to meet with each other, to share their expectations, contribution, fears, and to talk about their roles in the project.
They also had a chance to “meet Plemetina” by discovering different things about the community by playing “journalist” role. This activity helped them to understand more the issues that that this small village is facing, but on the other side to also get inspired by discovering great talents and potentials that are hidden in this village under shadows of power plants.
By making dictionary of different languages that are spoken in the village group also meet with cultural diversity of Plemetina that lives together in peace.
In the evening on 14th of September, GAIA craw join the prep-team to present them Art in Action 1 and to show what was done last year and to present all the different products that are made in August 2011. Movies are shown, music is played and nice discussion was held about the last year experience.
Today we are on the third day of the meeting, after the breakfast group went to see the working space and started with the preparation on day to day activity …
During next 10 days we will have “bloggers” who will report on daily bases what is going in every corner of this campaign… be informed and follow us!
In Plemetina, 15th Septembre