Border crossing project travelling from Greece through south eastern europe to the eco-activist gathering Ecotopia in Slovakia.

Creative activist roadshow in east-west collaboration


The Art and Activism Caravan is a border crossing project, that started early June, travelling for 3 months from Greece via Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia Herzegovina and Hungary to the eco-activist gathering Ecotopia in Slovakia. Its aim is to support and connect youth, campaign, community and activist groups, their actions and campaigns with creative forms of activism. The participants share skills in the field of video, creative writing, music and dance, sculpturing, street performance, drawing and painting, samba and screen printing.

See AA Caravan Indymedia for full coverage

In Athens the Caravan worked with students at the occupied Politecnik University. Bitola, Macedonia saw a week of events organised by the local youth forum and ended in a large event with music and films at the local amphitheatre. In Tirana, Albania the workshops worked on an action at the Ministery of Internal Affairs for clean drinking water and in the small community of Plav, Montenegro a big parade at the end of the week got most of the village onto the streets. In Belgrade a memorial vigil for the victims of the Srebrenica genocide was held the day the Caravan arrived and some workshops supported a local campaign to save a small park from being build on. In Novi Sad the week was about campaigning for a cultural youth centre as well as for opening up Serbian borders. After much interest in the Indymedia project, some people from the Caravan who also work for UK Indymedia have been discussing the setting up of a Serbia Indymedia. The work of the Caravan consists of working on creative forms of activism. Whether this is making banners, costumes, large puppets or clowning about, playing samba, making short videos, printing t-shirts or making mosaics. It's acknowledging that activism can easily be made more creative and become more accessible and fun.

Feature articles on the AA Caravan Indymedia page:

Groups involved in the AA Caravan are EYFA (European Youth For Action), The Mischief Makers (creative activist collective, Nottingham), Rhythms of Resistance (samba), Undercurrents (UK video collective), Rebel Clown Army and VideA (video collective, Turkey).

Local Indymedias: Athens | Belgrade | Croatia | Hungary

Art Activism Links: Design for Social Change | My Dads Strip Club | Northern Arts Tactical Offensive | Movement of the Imagination | The Church of Stop Shopping | The YES Men | The Lab of Insurrectionary Imagination | YoMango | Space Hijackers | (everything for the video activist)

In Athens the Caravan worked with students at the Politecnik University in Athens. The students has occupied their university in solidarity with their striking tutors as well as raising their concern over the proposed changes to the education law and privatisation of the Greek educational system. In the last few months almost all of the universities and colleges in Greece have been occupied by the majority of their students. After lectures and teachers went on a national strike in a long lasting dispute over pay, students around the country took over more than 300 buildings and university grounds. Read full article.

In Bitola, Macedonia it was welcomed by the Bitola Youth Forum, to fill a week of youth activities in the city of Bitola. Bitola is a city in the south-western part of the Republic of Macedonia, with just under 100.000 inhabitants. Workshops included: action samba, silkscreening, video activism and rebel clowning, some of which took place at one of the local swimming pools. The Mischief Makers worked in a Roma settlement just outside the city. At the end of the week a large event was held in the local amphitheatre, which was joined by some local bands. Read full article.

In Tirana, Albania the Caravan was welcomed by people from Mjaft!, a movement committed to fighting political corruption and raising awareness of social and environmental issues concerning Albania. It was a busy, hot and stressful week full of good and crazy experiences and well attended workshops. The participants were generally around 16-18 and some were part of youth and activist groups. The video workshops produced 3 films and the Clowns and Mischief Makers combined their efforts in an action for clean and reliable drinking water at the Ministry for Internal Affairs, in the middle of the city. Read full article.

Plav is a small town in the north east of Montenegro. The 3.500+ inhabitants form a mixed community of Montenegrians, Serbs and Albanians. The town is very isolated, surrounded by mountains and six hours away from the capital Podgorica. In autumn last year, a small group of people set up an NGO, Plagus_M, with the aim to activate the local community and the youth culture. We were made very welcome by the people and everybody has worked very hard to make a big parade happen on the final day. The samba practiced by marching through the town, getting many funny looks. The Mischief Makers build a giant football and stadium seat, to support the demand from local youth to get better seating in the local football stadium. At the moment they have to sit on a rubbish dump to watch the matches... Another group of mischievious fairies made costumes and danced around during the parade. The video workshop produces films about the local lake and its safety, the management of waste and another one on local youth in Plav. The clowns worked on a performance about waste and collected some from the street in order to find its owners... Read full article.

There it was, a big city once again. The Stanipani Kolektiv, had got people interested in the workshops and helped generating ideas on a possible theme and action. The day the Caravan arrived a memorial vigil took place in the centre of the city to commemorate the victims of the Srebrenica genocide in 1995. People held banners and placards saying 'never again' and 'remember Srebrenica'. Last year the same vigil was attacked by nationalist groups, some of who trew teargas in the crowd. The police guarded the protest heavily this time. The final outcome of the week was an evening of silk and film screening at Peti Park, a small park in Belgrade, where a corporation called Crnotravac wants to build a five storage high commercial centre. The neighbourhood has started an impressive struggle to safe the park. Read full article.

Wikipedia on: Balkans | Greece | Macedonia | Albania | Montenegro | Serbia | Bosnia Herzegovina | Hungary | Slovakia

Background Links: ZNet Balkanwatch (Background articles on the political situation in the Balkans + lots of links) | Transitions Online (Online newsletter covering politics in the Balkans and wider region) | (Macedonian independent news agency) | Abolishing the Borders from Below (anarchist magazine focused around Eastern Europe) | Role of Women in The Balkans War (links) | (Balkans anti-war and human rights resources) | Our target is peace (The centre for peace in the Balkans)

add a comment on this article

Art as Activism in Europe, is it coming?

Zulma 28.Jul.2006 20:18

I would love to see this work in the United States, am I missing something? Is it showing here and I'm just not reading deep enough to find it?

Hmm, not to the US i'm afraid

AA Caravan member 30.Jul.2006 09:39

Sorry, I don't think we're going to the US. Might be an idea for the future...