DD 2021 / After movie

This year’s theme for the Danube Dialogues, “Art and society in a forced reality” is an excellent diagnosis of the situation in which we find ourselves today according to both experts and public opinion. Next to great organization, an up-to-date and carefully chosen topic assured the festival’s success despite the problems caused by the pandemic. As always, its character isn’t static, quite the opposite in fact, based as it is on visiting various places and going from one art exhibit to another, which makes it a unique event. Everyone we spoke to expressed satisfaction that we had managed to hold a successful event during a pandemic for the second year in a row. 

The first exhibition, “Novi Sad+ by Serbian artist Karolina Mudrinski, was curated by Svetlana Mladenov. The author presented a segment of her doctoral dissertation, showing an innovative combination of art and science. Although her work is based on mathematical theory, both author and curator say that a deep grasp of the science isn’t necessary in order to understand the entire exhibition and that it certainly leaves a strong visual impression on viewers. 

At the next destination the audience had the opportunity to see three different exhibits in the Serbian – Bulgarian art dialogues. The first was the work of Bulgarian artist Sasho Stoitzov and Serbian art duo diSTRUKTURA composed of artists Milica Milićević and Milan Bosnić. Associates in the second Serbia – Bulgaria dialogue were Ludmil Lazarov and Ana Vrtačnik, with Javor Kostadinov and Monika Sigeti in the third. According to the curators of these dialogues, Slavica Popov and Nadezdha Dzhakova, all artists had taken an original approach to the pandemic, offering personal insights and answers to the situation through their work. An important part of this exhibit was the attendance of Bulgarian Ambassador to Serbia, Petko Dojkov. The exhibit enhances collaboration between Serbia and Bulgaria while giving viewers a clearer picture of how this works. 

DD 2021 / Society and Art in a Forced Reality / Guided tour

Day One concluded with the main exhibition, which shares its name with the festival – Art and Society in a Forced Reality. Artists presenting were  Antoni Rayzhekov, Venelin Shurelov, Stevan Kojić, Anna Vasof and Ana Prvački, with Venelin Shurelov and Sava Stepanov curating. This was the most direct response to the theme, illustrating the “new normal” to the audience in an innovative and highly individual manner. Each artist presented their work separately, but the combination achieved an entirely new perspective. This way every artist left his or her own mark on the exhibition and raised it to a whole new level. Audience satisfaction was easy to see, while in conversation with curators, there was constant emphasis on their satisfaction with the exhibition itself and about working with the artists. 

The second day began with an international conference “Art and Society in a Forced Reality”, broadcast to all continents thanks to the Ars Electronica festival team. There were two panels, one of which was reserved for curators, while in the second half we heard artists from Japan, Singapore and South Africa. Apart from several interesting presentations, Serbian Minister of Culture Maja Gojković joined the conference via an online platform. The conference conclusion was that there is no hope of a healthy art scene without the presence of this kind of festival. The fact that the festival from Linz, Ars Electronica, was associated with this year’s event is proof positive that the Danube Dialogues have reached an entirely new level. Festival director Vesna Latinović also stated that she was very pleased with this year’s cooperation and hoped it will be enduring and successful. 

The rest of the day’s programme focused on the Novi Sad – Timisoara dialogue, divided into three parts, all curated by Sanja Kojić Mladenov and Diana Marincu. Exhibitions were available to visitors at several locations throughout the Fortress and town of Petrovaradin. The first of these, by artists Oana Paula Veiner and Anica Vučetić was in the underground military galleries, part of the Novi Sad City Museum. The second (Andrea Medar and Danica Bićanić) was in the catacombes inside the Fortress, while the third by Dragan Vojvodić and Liliana Merciou Popa was held at Prote Mihaldžić Square in Petrovaradin. In conversation with artists and curators, a frequent assertion was that festivals of this sort are crucial for the art scenes of both countries and their cities. Romanian curator Diana Marincu voiced a hope that Novi Sad -Timisoara cooperation will evolve to something bigger, such as a Serbia – Romania dialogue. 

After the final exhibition, multi-media artist Vladimir Kopicl officially opened the Danube Dialogues 2021 festival. In his speech he referred to several crucial topics affecting our society. Having analyzed the influence of “forced reality” on the sociological structure of humans, he touched on other issues troubling artists today. Vladimir says that festivals of this kind of reflect the current state of art, but that we should not see them as rivals of other events whose character is merely entertainment. 

DD 2021 / Guided tour / Dialogue Timisoara – Novi Sad