press to exit project space


Imagine 10 years from now - year 2018. You are still a cultural practitioner, or maybe not. What are you busy with? Where are you located, does your organisation still have the same address as in 2008? What is your network?  Where do your resources come from (what is your economy) and in what kind of cultural climate is your country/city? How local is your scene and with whom are you (not) cooperating? Are you busy with these issues at all?

The aim of How soon is now? is to envision the possible futures of cultural practices in the so-called Western Balkans. It is focussed specifically at a group of cultural practitioners, initiators of medium or smaller-scale cultural organisations, who have been challenged and triggered by institutional breakdown during the 1990s, and have become (often unintended) the forerunners of alternative models of cultural production. How soon is now? also contributes to the Lexicon for Provisional Futures. This Lexicon actively seeks to encompass terms and concepts that carry a potential to redefine the (European) city and its urban culture. The emphasis is on thinking the future "provisionally" - to introduce a both necessary and instrumental margin of manoeuvrability, with less utopianist grandiloquence.

"According to most dictionaries, future means a mode of thinking a time to come, this could be structured by desire, infinit/ends, paranoia, potentials, hope, faith – and indeed, by the present." (Manuela Zechner, initiator of the Future Archive project)

How soon is now? might appear as a highly speculative exercise, and at the time of current political instabilities in the region, where even tomorrow is not certain - why would one dwell upon the future? The assumption behind this is that all (individuals and organisations) invited have developed specific skills and qualities over last decade that stretch the possibilities of their present situation. Times are unstable, conditions are changing, roles are shifting. Where will we all be when/if the transition is over?

How soon is now? has two parts:

1. On May 12, at Škuc in Ljubljana, it will bring together 10 practitioners from 10 organisations across the region in a (semi-open) meeting. Each person participating is asked to present in 15 minutes a speculative imagination of the context and practices of her/his organisation ten years from now. Starting from those 10 personal preoccupations and questions, we will imagine what might be the possible scene when we are 'at our best age' (or midlife crisis) in
2018. The occasion of this both personal as well as collective act of imagining the future in itself can be considered rather unique, for it is hard enough to find on a day-to-day base the tools to deal with the current conditions – let alone expand this into a medium-far future.

2. Before the meeting every participant is asked to deliver a short text – an entry to the Lexicon for Provisional Futures. The lexicon entry starts from personal experience and knowledge of leaving and working in/from/for the region, not from general knowledge. Specifically, we would like to approach you with this question: Which of the ways of how you engage with/through your practice now do you think points to how the wider cultural practice could work in the future, ten years from now? The goal here is not to find a formal
description of your activities or organisation, but to look for seeds or motives you believe are vital for your and have a potential towards the future.

How soon is now? is taking place one day before the public conference Cultural Policies and Practices in EU Foreign Relations organised by Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Division for Culture, as part of the first Slovenian EU presidency. Politicians, founders, cultural administrators and a number of practitioners will be discussing a European agenda for culture in a globalizing world. Some outputs from our meeting will be brought to the plenary session on practices in Western Balkans – and will potentially influence emerging ideas for new funds and cultural policies towards the region.

The Lexicon for Provisional Futures is an offspring of the Europe Lost and Found project. The concept of the Lexicon came up during a summit in which 25 participants from different backgrounds took place. The event was co-organised with Yane Calovski and press to exit project space in Skopje during July 2007. The lexicon will constitute of 40-50 entries made by cultural practitioners, spatial thinkers, artists and writers, envisioning possible fragments for futures thought outside of grand plans. The Lexicon is foreseen to be published in 2009, with 160 pages, 2000 copies.