Monday, 7 November 2011

The Road Ahead

Bizarre display of department store clocks on Kralja Milana, Belgrade
 It seems astonishing, but I will be actually going home in just over five weeks. I've been on the road for almost four months now, and have still quite a bit to achieve before pointing the Panda in the direction of Blighty.

Sarajevo leaves. Damn my Sambas, I just couldn't get them out of shot.
 As opposed to the unseasonally early winter last time I was here, Sarajevo is now enjoying a golden autumn. In the city centre, big fat russet red leaves lie deep on the pavement, like cornflakes waiting for milk. It was the Muslim festival of Eid yesterday and town was pretty quiet, as many people rose early to go to the mosque, and then spend the day at home with their families. Today is also a public holiday, so, from tomorrow, I will be getting through a few meetings before the end of the week and my departure from here for Zagreb.

Old Yugoslav map of Europe in Museum of Yugoslav History
 Having spent so much time shuttling between Skopje, Belgrade and here in the last two and a bit months, it looks unlikely that I will make it to either Kosovo or Montenegro before I head home. This is no problem, however, as I will make a point of visiting these places early in the new year, and try to arrange my usual round of meetings and libraries before settling down to begin work on the great tome in earnest. I think I will need to spend a few days in Cetinje, where there are many galleries, and a day or so in Podgorica, before heading back south-eastwards through Priština and seeing if all the hype in the tourist magazines is true.

One or two younger Kosovar artists have been picked up recently by Italian curators and gallerists, and there's meant to be a lot going on in the capital at the moment. There's also the slight problem (more than slight, actually) where the Serbian border guards regard a passport stamped with Kosovo stamps as null and void, and don't allow you back into Serbia. I am hoping that this problem will be one of the early ones resolved in the current impasse between Priština and Belgrade. The situation there has been very tense for over a month now and, however impatient the international community may be for it to be resolved, months if not years of patient negotiation will be necessary, if any progress is to be made. For obvious reasons, I can't risk my passport being voided in the eyes of the Serbs, so, much as I want to go, it looks like to will be a bit difficult for now. We'll see. Maybe I can ask the guards not to stamp my passport.

More immediately, I have to get through a lot in Zagreb, not least of which is seeing the new Museum of Contemporary Art; this is a project which has been long in the making, and I have heard mixed reviews of the results. The Museum of Modern art has finally re-opened in Ljubljana, too, after a long closure and re-building; there are many other things to pick up outwith the Slovene capital, as well, particularly the OHO archives, the Černigoj museum in Lipica, and the Museum on Celje, which has been very active in advertising international residencies in recent times. The journey home will take less time than when I was on holiday in July/August; after popping in to Vienna and Brno again, I should make Calais in three or four days, crossing Germany, a bit of Belgium, and France.

Once back home, it'll be a fairly frantic round of visa application, offloading the Fiat and buying a van, getting my stuff out of storage and doing one last final drive across Europe to my new home, wherever that might be (Skopje still looks likely but there are possibilities wherever I've been, so I still have to mull everything over and probably won't decide finally until the New Year. I also have to find a flat and once there, a new (well, old but new) car. In addition to my book, I have two essays to write for publication, and will shortly be deciding on the final line up for the session I am co-chairing on Balkan art for the 2012 Association of Art Historians conference at the Open University. Then, with all that out of the way, book-writing will begin in, plenty to keep this place chuntering on for a while yet. Phew, eh readers?

No comments:

Post a Comment