The leitmotif of Mikser, the largest regional festival of creativity, held in the last week of May, was the twentieth anniversary of the break-up of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. This theme served as an inspiration for the possibility of parallel readings of history and establishing new relations in Southeast Europe.
The silos of the flour and semolina supplier Žitomlin in Belgrade became the stage for more than sixty prominent artists who took part in exhibitions, concerts and workshops. Topics ranged from architecture, design, new media and music to themes devoted to environmental preservation and other social and political issues. All the topics were concerned with the possibility of achieving sustainable growth in culture and art in Serbia and the region.
Art Zone screened a video project entitled The Hero by Marina Abramović, the world renowned performance artist. It is dedicated to the memory of her father, a Partisan commander during the Second World War. The video was screened on 25 May, which used to be the Day of Youth in the former Yugoslavia and is also the celebration of the birthday of Marshal Josip Broz Tito, who ruled the country for almost half a century.
The Contact Zone, dedicated to lectures, welcomed guests from around the world such as Zach Lieberman from the United States - one of the most important new media artists, Bernard Khoury from Lebanon, the architect whose audacious architectural projects put Beirut on the map of world architecture, American Aaron Kenedi - editor in chief of Print magazine, one of the most important design publications in the world, Mirko Ilić a graphic designer born in Bosnia and Herzegovina of global renown, actress Mirjana Karanović and author Vladimir Arsenijević (both from Serbia) and many others.
The festival also included Kino Mikser - a review of film festivals in the region, Music Zone inspired by the New Wave, Talent Zone which welcomed the winners of contests such as Young Balkan Designers and Ghost Project and Green Zone, which this year was all about the Danube river and environmental volunteering.
Maja Lalić, the visual director of Mikser festival, explained to Southeast Europe: People and Culture, how this cultural event developed:
How did Mikser evolve to its present shape?
As is always the case with all good things, the process of bringing about the Mikser festival began quite spontaneously, back in 2006, with the development of a mini-project entitled Ghost Project. Four years later, this project managed to bring to the light the heretofore invisible world of design in Serbia and grew to become the biggest festival of creativity and innovation in the region with the involvement of more than 1,500 participants not only this region but also from Europe and the rest of the world. This year's Ghost Project under the banner of New Simplicity (Nova jednostavnost) received 184 projects from designers coming from the U.S., the Philippines, India, Israel and Hong Kong, as well as European and Balkan countries.
How did the Ghost Project come about?
We wanted this project to put a spotlight on the great economic, social and cultural importance of industrial design today. The name Ghost is in fact a criticism of the non-existence of this particular discipline in our country. It was back then that the youngest generation of Serbian designers was given a space to exhibit their ideas, which still hadn't materialised. Since 2008, young designers have been given the opportunity, using school curriculums, to cooperate with clients and potential furniture makers and the Jasen Company of Kragujevac and to turn the prototypes of their ideas into reality. The following year, Mikser organised a competition for young designers in cooperation with the local company BAK and the international company Corian, which had recently appeared on the Serbian market. This way, the Ghost Project became a veritable driving force behind the scenes in Serbia.