Open competitions and workshops are the common denominator of Mikser’s long-term developmental plans, and are the source of intensive activity during its festival of creative arts and innovation.
Upon launching Ghost Project 2006, which acts as a platform for new talent, we had decided not to lament on the fact that, despite the huge creative potential in the country, local industries and institutions were reluctant to give an opportunity to emerging talent. In fact, we were keen to use it as a motive in our decision to take matters into our own hands and to attempt to connect the, up to now, seemingly unlinkable: the gap between creativity and industry. Thanks to the multidisciplinary development of the Mikser organisation, our model of uncovering and nurturing young talent, which was primarily focused on the product design scene, naturally carried over into the field of visual arts, new media, architecture, music etc..
We felt saddened by the state of the local art scene, and as a result we embarked upon the exciting job, laden with responsibility: that of mapping the creative potential of the Balkans. The result was the creation of MIKSER festival, which became one of the largest open talent platforms and a showcase for a vast array of regional creative businesses, in this part of Europe. All this was achieved within the space of a few years.
Mikser’s open competitions and workshops bring to the fore the, as yet unearthed, talent, giving people a rare opportunity of meeting with the representatives of their respective industries and cultural institutions, as well as that of being to exhibit their work next to some of the most renowned figures in the industry. It also allows them the chance to showcase their material to the mass media and an audience of over 60,000 visitors, and most importantly, to realise their creations in co-operation with the Mikser organisation and its partners. MIKSER festival, in this sense, strives to serve as a ‘microphone’ for innovative ideas, which it is constantly on the look-out for throughout the year – in which the multifaceted web of international partners and the ever-expanding regional group of designers, play a very important role.
The decision to move the MIKSER Festival to Savamala carried with it serious implications – namely a thorough site exploration. We came to realize that we were spending lots of time in the area, and that slowly but surely, we had come to identify ourselves with it whilst getting acquainted with our new neighbours. We were drawn even further into Savamala by the unusual levels of pride which were integral to the local collective spirit.
Due to our very sincere excitement at having uncovered these spaces (Savamalian courtyards, attics, basements, warehouses, palatial spaces…),as well as our disbelief at having spent so much time living in a city which had up till now so successfully ignored and neglected its fantastic heritage, we felt an immediate urge to settle down in the space that was to become MIKSER HOUSE, in Karadjordjeva 46.
The arresting warehouse with its former, symbolically evocative name of ‘Steel’ and its cold, spacious and powerful interiors, has drawn us in and forced us to face the fact that it is insufficient to simply dedicate ourselves to Savamala, solely during the MIKSER festival. What it required is an everyday co-existence with the area.
MIKSER HOUSE serves as a venue for creative activities, which are the essence of the festival, can take place throughout the year. MIKSER festival, which is the peak of our creative year, and MIKSER competitions, are all parts of the puzzle that make up the ultimate goal – a cultural model which defies the status quo, while being inclusive and full of life.
Savamala is far removed from the image of a hidden-away, isolated riverfront toponym, which offers up an unobtrusive connection between architecture, art and the public. It is, in fact, full of people who wreak havoc to it, pollute and abuse it, which is precisely what drew us there. Savamala hasn’t got an already established festival space – it is one big urban, historical and ideological disparity, which, while leaking at both ends, still manages to remind, provoke, bleed and to plead.
It is well known that with the development of explosive projects such as MIKSER, there is a difficulty in avoiding its premature fruition, and with it an eventual entry into the framework of the predictable, a loss of freshness, a relaxation of a lulled management which easily slips into the paradigm of that which it originally fought against. It seems certain that continuous searching and ceaseless challenges are the only way with which the vigour and strength of an enterprise can be preserved, and that is exactly what MIKSER has done with its choice of Savamala as its future festival location. Or at least, it’s firmly convinced that it has!
Savamala, take two. It will be exhausting and won’t happen overnight. One day, when the lorries have all left and once the facade of the most stunning palatial building in the city (that of the Belgrade cooperative, founded in 1907) regains its original shine and splendour, MIKSER will pack up and move on. To a place where it is least expected.