Ups&Downs, Highs&Lows... and the Forgotten

The Ups and Downs, Highs and Lows… and the Forgotten is an invitation to explore (read, look, listen) and participate in the cultural exchange between the U.S. and Yugoslavia in past decades.  This is an online presentation based on a series of research projects, including carefully chosen materials, which took place from May to June 2020. Those included vigorous discussions on the topics of cultural exchanges, cooperation, and mutual influences between the U.S. and Yugoslavia/Serbia throughout the history of our bilateral relations, with a strong focus on the Cold War period.  Participants addressed through case studies in seven different areas:   film, contemporary art, music, urban planning, theatre, poetry and comic, They also focused on the beginnings of the American popular culture influence in the former Yugoslavia, in the region, and across the globe, going back to the earliest chapter in the history of relations between our two countries in the early 1900s.

Ups and Downs, Highs and Lows… and the Forgotten is designed to supplement the already established works on the political and cultural relations between the United States of America and Yugoslavia, and now the Republic of Serbia.  We hope to reinvigorate interest in this area based on what we already know and through new, or better yet forgotten, stories uncovered through our research.  These stories reveal the extent of exchanges of artistic and cultural influences that continued through the ups and downs in relations and cooperation between the two governments.

Through these diverse disciplinary approaches and the discussions in 2020 with invited scholars and artists, practitioners, and experts, we created a community that can further our thinking about American and Yugoslav/Serbian intercultural influences within the contexts of diplomatic, cultural, and economic relations. We aim to explore the new genealogies and stories of those relationships, as well as gain an understanding the cultural exchanges and influences by looking at the informal networks, underground movements, and personal connections.

Ups and Downs, Highs and Lows… and the Forgotten also aims to become a platform, or, rather, a trampoline, allowing us to leap into further discussion about contradictions we’ve uncovered.  We do not aim for a “ceremonial” cultural discourse but for a critical, multi-perspective, and multilayered interdisciplinary exploration. The research, in part presented here, consists of a variety of documentary, archival, artistic, and performative material. It is curated in order to highlight the fascinating bits and the antagonistic elements, the politics and the diplomacy “from above” and the everyday life “from below.”

In the second phase of this project (2021), when the health situation allows, CZKD will set up a physical exhibit, using as a basis the documentary and artistic contribution as developed through the course of the research, discussions and collaboration with the community of participants.

The project’s authors, Branislav Dimitrijević, Ana Miljanić and Ljubica Slavković, would like to thank all of our committed interlocutors and seminar participants for their engagement during the COVID-19 pandemic. We extend our thanks to the invited researchers and presenters (in order of appearance): Greg de Cuir Jr., Nika Grabar, Milena Dragićević Šešić, Nataša Vučurović Đukić, Marija Samardžić, Miloš Stošić, Srđan Kuzmanović and other collaborators from the hard core punk community, including Dubravka Đurić and Radina Vučetić. Also, our special gratitude goes to the interviewees: Pavle Levi, Jelica Jovanović, Prota Škart, Silvija Jestrović, Aleksandar Zograf, Zoran Đukanović, Igor Todorović Zgro, Vladislav Bajac and Vladimir Arsenijević.

The Ups and Downs, the Highs and Lows… and the Forgotten

Project authors and curators: Ana Miljanić and Branislav Dimitrijević
Project author and manager: Ljubica Slavković
Production: Center for Cultural Decontamination

Visual Identity: Jelena Pejović
Web Development: Andreja Sokolović

The project is supported by the U.S. Embassy in Serbia.

The work of Center for Cultural Decontamination is supported by the Open Society Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund,  the Sigrid Rausing Trust and CCFD Terre Solidaire.


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