I have my solo show “Strange World” at the Austrian Cultural Forum and visit Belgrade for the second time. The first time I went there was in 2004 when a special high-rise caught my attention.
Arriving at the airport and going to the city one passes the former Genex Tower, also called the West Gate. That building looks like pure Science-Fiction and has sparked my imagination since my first visit. I’ve always wanted to go back to pursue my longtime project of photographing (retro-) futurist buildings from the communist era, of which quite a few can be found in Belgrade.
The city is built at the rivers Sava and Danube. While the old part of town stretches out over the hills on the right side of the Sava, the left (dead flat) is taken up by Novy Beograd (New Belgrade) which was erected on marshland beginning with 1947. Novy Beograd is made up of a grid system of wide boulevards, high-rises and tower blocks and there is a motorway which goes right through.
According to Wikipedia http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genex the Genex company was an import and export company based in East Berlin through which Western goods could be bought and sent to citizens of the former GDR.
Besides the West Gate there is also its equivalent in the East. I take a tram to the suburbs and get out of the train a little too early. I walk towards the three towers which make up the gate.
To my big surprise I discover that the surrounding buildings are mostly family houses with little gardens. The quarter even displays a rather rural athmosphere with birds singing and men repairing their cars in the warmth of a sunny sunday afternoon.
New Belgrade is made up of a widespread grid system of streets. Tram and bus stops do not have names but are called after the housing blocks for example Blok 36, 45 or 72.
There are streets names which pay reference to great names of the past like Nikola Tesla or – more in a cosmo-poetic way – to Jurija Gagarina, the first Soviet cosmonaut.
Between housing blocks you also find supermarkets, sports grounds and grass lands. The area is not that unhospitable after all…
Besides tower blocks you also find some shacks inhabited by gypsies. Romani people in Belgrade are known to be scrap dealers.
Things look different at the other side of the river. You’ll find this building at the confluence of the Sava and the Danube.
Elections coming up, time to say good-bye…
I am invited to this year’s IFFR (Int. Film Festival Rotterdam) which is rated one of the best and biggest film festivals in Europe. Apnea (Apnoe) has its international premier. The IFFR shows a wide variety of films, there is a certain focus on films which originate in developing countries (if that term is still adequate..).
The city is very modern with an interesting contrast between new high-rises, some classical houses and the old industrial port architecture.
Artist unknown, too…