In 2009, the Remont Independent Art Association celebrates its tenth anniversary. Founded in 1999, the organisation's goal is to promote contemporary art in Serbia and link the domestic art scene to international trends. After a decade of efforts, however, the association's web presentation is still pointing to the dire situation on the country's art scene and greeting visitors with an alarming question: "Who needs Remont?" The answers offered are "everyone," "no one," and "someone."
The website - www.remont.net- explains that the association took its name from the noun "remont," which has been adopted from Latin and is commonly used in Eastern and South-eastern Europe for procedures such as overhaul, where an existing mechanism is repaired and adapted to fit new working conditions.
The individuals who once met and founded Remont are a group of artists from Belgrade and Pančevo, some of whom have lived and worked abroad, and who differ in age and experience: Uroš Đurić, Aleksandar Zograf, Tanja Ostojić, Milica Tomić, Branko Pavić, Jovan Cekić, Mikrob, Mirjana Đorđević, Žana Poliakov, Saša Gajin, the ŠKART group, Boris Mladenović, and Remont's current gallery director Darka Radosavljević.
This year, the Serbian Ministry of Culture awarded Remont 150,000 dinars in assistance, the equivalent of about €1,600.
"Despite all the support we've received from individuals on the art scene, the lack of support from state institutions not only inhibits development but endangers the survival of those who should be role models," says Darka Radosavljević.
After the year 2000, the number of international art gatherings in Serbia has soared, especially in its capital, Belgrade. The traditional "Oktobarski Salon" (October Salon) has been transformed into an international event, beginning with Anda Rothenberg's "Continental breakfast" exhibition in 2005. That same year came "Art that Works" by Darka Radosavljević and Nebojsa Vilić, then "Art, Life, Chaos" by Rene Block and Barbara Heinrich in 2006, and "Micronarratives" by Lorand Hegyi in 2007.
"The [domestic] art scene is rich and this pluralism is its virtue. One segment of the scene was displayed at this year's October Salon. The authors chosen were well presented, but what is concerning is that this exhibition was not international. I believe that at this moment it is very dangerous to break the continuity of an international gathering of contemporary [art] tendencies, because this will be an opportunity for nationalist forces," she told Southeast Europe: People and Culture.
"Since its founding, the operation of the Remont Association has been similar to the evolution of our social climate. Initially, there was enthusiasm and fighting for a better future; then good energy, faith in change and betterment, which led to improvement and strengthening, i.e. to many different projects and activities, and new young people; then came a standstill; and now, unfortunately, a certain lethargy and loss of faith that any good work and dedication have a point," says Radosavljević.
According to her, "being really involved in contemporary art, i.e., being truly motivated to dedicate oneself to this field, has always been a non-profit endeavour. These are small and healthy oases which actually sustain and further society. Today, these are ever fewer, as more and more authors are withdrawing from public life."
Also apparent is the lack of professional domestic publications on contemporary art developments. Thus, this year's Remont Art Files combined two editions that have so far been released separately: an overview of the association's 2007 activities, and a survey of art projects and of art critics of various generations who actively follow the domestic art scene. The publications are important as they promote contemporary art practice.
The result of the research is an abundance of documents on recent art - material which has been used to start the Document 2000 project, whose goal is to organize and unify all information on contemporary art in the country. The data that has been processed so far is available online.