ART-e-FACT issue01: ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION [you are here] issue02: UTOPIA issue03: TECHNOMYTHOLOGIES issue04: GLOCALOGUE

Fortress Europe
Želimir Žilnik

Looking for a husband with an EU Passport
Tanja Ostojić
Fortress Europe
Želimir Žilnik
Andreja Kulunčić
Common Trip
Roman Ondak

Two Journeys
Margarethe Makovec & Anton Lederer
Common Trip
Roman Ondak
Nothing Happens Accidentally
Aleksandar Battista Ilić
Border Crossing Services
Oliver Ressler & Martin Kren
Sing me a song ...
Maja Bajević

The Cabana
Pia Lindman

The CaBana
Pia Lindman
Grady Gerbracht
From an in-between place
Nedko Solakov
Guilty Landscapes
Ron Sluik
S.O.S. Binary sequence
Dalibor Martinis

Ivana Keser

View postcards
A series of postcards created by artists, printed and given away.


Meeting point: a search
Tanja Dabo

Meeting point: a search
Tanja Dabo
Love Shop

Sokol Beqiri
The Fear of Newcomers
Ivana Keser
Nebojša Šerić Šoba
Balkan - Ich wohne in berlin
Jovan Balov

Danica Dakić & Sandra Sterle

Danica Dakic & Sandra Sterle
Profession: Refugee
Svebor Kranjc
Migrant Navigator
Darko Fritz
One's Own Body as the Only Safe Haven
Boris Cvjetanović

Newspaper clippings

Nada Beroš

At the end of the nineties, newspaper articles about Ježevo, that is, the Reception Centre for Foreigners, a waiting-room of the detention centre type for illegal migrants from the whole world, appeared occasionally and unobtrusively in the local press. At the beginning of summer 2000, the theme of Ježevo intruded all by itself into the consciousness of a small group of artists, curators and critics from Zagreb. We had no doubt whatsoever about the question of "why Ježevo?", but for months we had acrimonious discussions about the methods, manners, objectives... agreeing at the end, in line with the aspiration to start off an artistic project based on the work-in-progress principle, that the ideas and the approaches would necessarily and unremittingly be formed through concrete and common work. The word "common" was unquestionable from the very beginnings, this collective spirit, just like the wish for a certain anonymity, for work far from the institutional channels of art and the noise of the press - work somewhat like that in the underground - was accepted as a welcome remove from the world of big art ego-trips and small arts.

More than the aesthetic, it was the ethical problems that concerned us, rather, they were inseparable.

Frustration because of the possible abuse of a burning social topic for artistic purposes, and in line with this of self-promotion disguised behind social commitment, and our own ineffectiveness when it was a matter of the real fates of illegal migrants, paralysed many of our ideas and endeavours, turning us back to the beginning: What did we want to achieve with the Ježevo project?

After meetings with real live people in the Reception Centre it was, that is, difficult to be satisfied with just artistic activities the aim of which is to sensitize the public to the problems of illegal immigrants through artistically appropriate and permissible means. We felt that this was not enough.

Like many an artist and theoretician at the turn of the millennia, we are aware that radical social changes are not possible, and it is particularly difficult to check out how far they are possible in the sphere of art. And yet, as Nicolas Bourriaud puts it, although we know that the grand narratives are at an end, we still have the small utopias. We believe, that is, that it is possible to have some new ethical solidarity (Pierre Bourdieu), and that culture has not only a symbolic but also an ideological power of social action.

Motel Ježevo

Ježevo - the real topos

On the way out of Zagreb, not far from Dugo Selo, while we are hurtling along the Zagreb - Lipovac (and Belgrade) motorway, few of us will be aware on the southern side of the road of a simple white prefabricated building with prominent brown vertical windows. The building, a one-time motel, is partially concealed behind a row of trees, and only the attentive eye will notice the bars on the windows and the barbed wire around it, accompanied by a police box and barrier.
At the beginning of the nineties, at the time of the aggression against Croatia, refugees and displaced persons were temporarily quartered in the motel; they stayed here until 1994. In January 1997, after conversion, the motel became the Reception Centre for Foreigners, a euphemism for a detention centre type establishment for illegal migrants - the only one in the country - run by the Croatian Interior Ministry. The centre was opened according to obligations assumed when Croatia entered the Council of Europe, respect being paid to the standards and norms of the UN about the location of foreign citizens. Here, then, is the temporary residence of foreign persons found in Croatia without any documents, who have been sentenced by the competent bodies to be deported, as well as those who have submitted an application to be granted the status of refugee. The Administration of the Centre is happy to quote the high assessments of various commissions about its work, from UNHRC, the International Migration Centre, the Red Cross and others. Costs for accommodation, travel and transit are met from the national Budget of the Republic of Croatia.

Several thousand migrants a year go through Ježevo, the number of them constantly rising. In 2001 the motel got an annexe to meet at least partially the growing needs - now Ježevo can take about 180 people a day. In four years, about 4,000 illegal migrants have passed through Ježevo. They come from some fifty countries, and about 84% of them are men, 12% are women and 4% children.

However, the statistics are still more relentless: in 2000, more than half a million illegal migrants entered the EU, only in Croatia more than 23,000 being arrested. There is hardly a border crossing in Croatia at which illegals are not arrested.

The black market for labour has speeded up the trade in people, one of the most profitable business of the age - for an illegal crossing from Montenegro to Croatia for example between 200 and 2000 marks was paid per capita, and the defectors would sometimes serve the local bosses and godfathers for months in order to meet the costs of their passage. A particular problem is the trade or traffic in women. This contemporary form of white slaving, with often voluntary recruitment of women from the former Eastern bloc, quite frequently with university degrees, is one of the most appalling indicators of the collapse of human dignity in its clash with the alluring blessings of late capitalism.

In their war with people-smuggling, the police make use of the most up-to-date methods and techniques, discovering defectors in tanks and containers, in special bunkers in trailers, in trucks with double floors, with probes and infrared radiation; but sometimes they use the most time-hallowed methods - building up a network of informers, turning the local population into a civilian border police. The more the police get into the security system, the higher the price of an illegal crossing. Thus the Promised Schengenland remains to many nothing but a promise.

Building exterior and newspaper clipping

Ježevo - the metaphor

Ježevo is just one of the many reception centres of illegal immigrants along the borders of Fortress Europe. Unlike that in neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina, for example, in Bosanski Petrovac, which can receive up to 2000 people a day, in hard facilities or in tents, where the problems are exacerbated and the contrasts of black and white dominant, in Ježevo everything is in shades and transitions.

We decided on Ježevo as the real and symbolic point of departure for a multimedia and multidisciplinary project, the Ježevo Motel, for several reasons. At first glance we were intrigued by the form and one-time function of the building in interaction with its current purpose. The motel building is a typical example of the way modernist architecture was brought down to ground in the former Yugoslavia in late socialism. The modest prefabricated building is an excellent witness of the economy and aesthetics of a time, and of the general belatedness of "peripheral structures", in which the great ideas from the world are facilely accepted and still faster watered down, but still have a remarkable ability to survive, to be transformed and take on new substance. The Ježevo Motel then is a metaphor for life on the periphery, at the darkling edge of things. A motel, of course, always symbolises transit and motion. But its guests, the stowaways, the wretched of the Third World, the Romanians, Iranians, Turks, Yugoslavs, Iraqis, Moldavians, Albanians, Macedonians, Tunisians, and those from even more distant lands like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, China, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Zaire, Afghanistan.... are stopped here, held, before their movement, this time forcible, continues in an unwanted way - into the neighbouring state from which they illegally crossed the border. This is not the end however. Their journeys continue "across seven seas and seven mountains", setting up, in spite of their wishes, a big domino effect of successive deportations from one country to another, until they arrive at their point of origin, where they are most often awaited by an impoverished and disappointed family, quite frequently by jail, and sometimes the death penalty.

We are convinced that no one can be left unmoved by this domino effect, like the butterfly effect.

In the ambivalence of movement, forced halting and sojourning, and then again of unwanted movement, it is also possible to recognize symbolic figures of civilization such as the Wandering Jew or Sisyphus, but also the paradigm of lasting un-ease that defines the artist per se. For after all, but not last of all, illegal migrants in many ways resemble the world of the contemporary arts: that large international fraternity, ever at the edge of existence, on the edge of the laws, often placed in a ghetto in a society that is profit-oriented, is ever in motion, ever dissatisfied, searching for the as yet untried, ready to put everything it has on the roll of the dice.

Hence there is no wonder that the many artists, critics and theorists who have joined us have seen a new "ethics of solidarity" at work in the Ježevo Motel project.

The Ježevo Motel, started off in summer 2000, is an independent, low-budget project by local and international artists, critics, curators and theoreticians, developing while bypassing establishment cultural institutions and guaranteed sources of financing. To the greatest extent, the project has been financed from its own sources, and helped with the free work of the participants and the modest resources of private sponsors. It was in this way that the first set of ten postcards featuring the works of ten artists was created and promoted in summer 2001, works of: Šejla Kamerić, Mirosław Bałka, Luchezar Boyadjiev, Dalibor Martinis, Dejan Kršić&Rutta, Ivana Keser, Andreja Kulunčić, Nebojša Šerić Šoba, Tanja Ostojić and Rastko Močnik.
Logistics are provided by AIM, a Zagreb multimedia production studio.

Since the project is conceived as work-in-progress the list of participants is constantly growing and being added to. For objective circumstances, many of these will never have the opportunity to be in Ježevo. Their participation in the project is based on the experience of similar problems in their own societies, and on theoretical and media acquaintance with the problem area. A large number of the artists, on the other hand, carry out their ideas, and will do so, in direct work with the Ježevo migrants, the process of mutual learning doubtless having a therapeutic effect for both sides (Boris Cvjetanović, Dalibor Martinis, Andreja Kulunčić, Kristina Leko, Manuela Vladić, Hsyein Alptekin Pia Lindman, Grady Gerbracht, Danica Phelps, Roman Ondak, Marko Lulic, Darko Fritz, Shalva Khakhanashvili, Nedko Solakov, Uroš Đurić...). Some of the works included in the project were created ostensibly independently of Ježevo (if we forget the lesson about the domino-effect) but are without any doubt spiritual kin to the Ježevo Motel, for which reason we have called on a number of artists to get involved in the project with works that already exist (Želimir Žilnik, Tanja Ostojić, Marjetica Potrč, Tanja Dabo, Roman Ondak, Sokol Beqiri, Oliver Ressler and Martin Kren, Anton Lederer and Margarethe Makovec, Sandra Sterle and Danica Dakić, Aleksandar Battista Ilić...)

Alongside the continued sequence of artistic workshops and encounters at Ježevo, where during spring and summer 2001 the greatest number of works (photographic, film and video, drawing and painting workshops) will be accomplished, the Ježevo Motel projects will be available to the general public on the pages of art-e-fact, on the pages of local papers and journals, and in the public areas of cities - posters, neon lights, and in shop windows, at info-points, in travel agencies and in hotels.

Participating artists: Hsyein Alptekin (TUR), Olaf Arndt & BBM (GER), Maja Bajević (BIH), Mirosław Bałka (PL), Jovan Balov (MK), Sokol Beqiri (K), Luchezar Boyadjiev (BUG), Boris Cvjetanović (HR), Tanja Dabo (HR), Danica Dakić (BIH), Uroš Đurić (YU), Vadim Fishkin (RUS), Darko Fritz (HR), Ghazel (IRR), Grady Gerbracht (USA), Igor Grubić (HR), Aleksandar Battista Ilić (HR), IRWIN (SLO), Sanja Iveković (HR), Šejla Kamerić (BIH), Shalva Khakhanashvili (GEO), Ivana Keser (HR), Svebor Kranjc (HR), Andreja Kulunčić (HR), Anton Lederer & Margharette Makovec (A), Kristina Leko(HR), Pia Lindman (USA), Marko Lulic (A), Dalibor Martinis (HR), Dan Oki (HR), Tanja Ostojić (YU), Bertha Jottar Palenzuela (USA), Danica Phelps (USA), Marjetica Potrč (SLO), Oliver Ressler & Martin Krenn (A), Sandra Sterle (HR), Nedko Solakov (BUL), Nebojša Šerić Šoba (BIH), Slaven Tolj (HR), Milica Tomić (YU), Luca Vitone (I), Manuela Vladić (HR), Želimir Žilnik (YU).
Curators, critics, theorists involved in the project: Carlos Basualdo, Nada Beroš, Boris Buden, Ana Dević, Zoran Erić, Branko Franceschi, Markita Franulić, Marina Gržinić, Nataša Ilić, Silva Kalčić, Želimir Koščević, Dejan Kršić, Shkelzen Maliqi, Suzana Milevska, Tihomir Milovac, Rastko Močnik, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Žarko Paić, Sabina Sabolović, Branka Stipančić, Leila Topić, Nevena Tudor.

contact persons: Nada Beroš, (nada.beros@zg.htnet.hr) (editor-in-chief), Dalibor Martinis (HR), (dalibor@aim.hr), Leila Topić, (leila.topic@zg.hinet.hr)

Interview with Bodo Kaping

Lovorka Marinović
A booming sex slavery trade --trafficking and the exploitation of women

Migration as a Global & Local Problem
Božena Katanec
Freedom, frustration, and the countries in-between

Interview with Bodo Kaping
Oliver Ressler & Martin Kren
Excerpt from the video "Border Crossing Services",

Looking for a husband with an EU passport
Tanja Ostojić

Žarko Paić
Ježevo as a permanent twilight zone between borders, politics and ideas.

Thnking in Exile
Suzana Milevska
I live, I dwell means the same as I am... Philosophical ideas connecting ourselves and our living spaces.

Jezevo - a story without a happy ending
Marina Gržinić
Ježevo as the cordon sanitaire of Europe.

Illegal migrants and late capitalism
Rastko Močnik
Unprecedented global inequality -- the final crisis of Capitalism?