What brought about the cooperation between the International Center for Translators and the Halma network? What is the role of the Center? Are there plans to continue this cooperation after the Literature in Flux project is over and are there any joint projects being planned?
Our Center has been a member of the Halma network of literary institutions ever since the network was founded in 2006. The cooperation is fruitful, not only because of the writers and translators that Halma sent to Sremski Karlovci to stay there for a month but also because of the contacts we have made with other members. One of the results of these visits is the book entitled Four Stories by Vladan Matijević, which is the product of a translator’s workshop (in Albanian, Bulgarian, Hungarian, and Romanian) that took place at our Center in June this year. Soon we expect to see the launch of a joint venture project between Serbia and the Baltic countries, during which over 120 writers and translators will be circulating between Serbia, Estonia and Latvia.
One section of the literary evenings was dedicated to panel discussions on the “Deconstruction of national myths in Europe.” Why is the topic of a “national myth” perceived as important in this project?
In the last decade of the 20th century we became again well aware of what damage the (mis)use of national myths can lead to in stirring hatred between nations. Myths, as one of the foundations of every nation, have to exist. Yet, the culture of remembrance does not necessarily have to lead to conflict. What is obvious is that people living in these parts of Europe need to come together again after the recent years of upheaval. Our attempt was to achieve this through prose, poetry and academic discussions.
Can you tell us something more about the dramatised reading project of “What is Yugoslavia” by László Végel, which was presented on this occasion?
After reading this text by Végel to her husband Lucas Cejpek, the Austrian author Margaret Kreidl, who is a winner of the Halma scholarship and currently working at our Center, said to her husband: “You have to direct this!” Lucas proceeded to do so. The text is about the internal conflict that those who move to a different environment have to undergo. This is presented through a linguistic prism, a conflict between the mother tongue and the foreign one, but it is really only a metaphor for a deeper and wider personal conflict.
Do you see a wider impact of this project?
The project has made quite an impact in the culture sphere in Serbia because all those working in culture are eager to collaborate and exchange experiences with their colleagues from other European countries. This makes me believe that we have managed to create a firm nucleus of people we will be able to count on in the years to come.