Last night, I attended the opening of Novi Sad’s New Media Art Festival – Videomedeja. This year marks the festival’s 25th anniversary. It’s being presented between October 14 and 16 at the Svilara Cultural Station, conveniently around the corner from my rental apartment.
With limited knowledge of the complexities involved in media production, I did basic research on the vast subject, so I wasn’t totally in the dark. It’s a huge learning curve! For the audience, works presented are more about seeing than knowing.
Friends of the festival joined in the festivities, including guests and volunteers from Austria, Poland, Ukraine, and China. The opening ceremony was presented by four notable supporters:
- Dalibor Rožić – Novi Sad City Council for Culture
- Dragana Milošević – Provincial Secretary for Culture
- Mileta Poštić – Special Adviser to the Minister of Culture
- Ivana Sremčević Matijević – Videomedea Director
The festival “brings together artists from over 40 countries”. There’s lots to wrap your head around, with a total of 58 “works of art in the form of animation, video, film, media installations, and interactive projects“. This year’s Videomedeja edition is entitled Video restArt – given the many “world changes affecting the perception of video art today”.
” Videomedeja is an alternative cultural event, which shows a real reflection of the social situation and individual in relation to ruling systems and global policies, through contemporary art forms from all over the world.” Ivana Sremčević Matijević, Videomedeja Director
The three-day program was edited by Ivana Sremčević Matijević, Željko Mandić, and Srđan Radaković. The works presented this year include:
- Feature film Party (Zurka in Serbian) by Serbian painter, director, and screenwriter Aleksandar Davić
- Documentary Video restArt by Ivana Sremčević Matijević
- Rubicon by Manuel Muñoz Argentina
- Espiral by Kacper Usar Poland
- P-9830 by Michiel van Bakel Netherlands
- The Body is a Gesture by Guli Silberstein United Kingdom
- Fourteen award-winning works of the Sphinx – from “the best award-winning video works in the past 25 years”
The main program includes “works selected on the basis of an international open competition”. Of over 1,000 submittals, only 5% are included in the program.
“Videomedeja searches for artists who notice hidden reality, culture, and art points that show differences and re-examine ethical and aesthetic values.” Ivana Sremčević Matijević
The competition selection is “dominated by works of art that question the political, social, and cultural constructions of the system”. Works submitted are “artistic constructions of critical and subversive activity through avant-garde forms that react to the official ideological doctrine”.
The competition consists of 26 selected works:
- 20 screenings – video, film, animation
- 6 media projects – installations and interactive art
Seven video works by local authors in the “Made in Serbia” category will be shown. Other showings include nine student art films from the “Lunartis” category of “prestigious film academies around the world“.
“The festival presents different perceptions and customs, primarily avant-garde, through innovative technologies and new artistic practices.”
This year, the international jury is “composed of: Zoran Naskovski (Serbia), Sylvia Winkler (Austria), Stephan Köperl (Germany), and Adad Hannah (BC Canada). On Saturday, October 16, the jury will announce the Sphinx Award for the best in the Video Projections category and the “Bogdanka Poznanović” Award for the best in the Media Projects category. Bogdanka Poznanović, an “avant-garde multimedia artist, was formerly a professor, Academy of Arts Novi Sad”.
There were interesting faces in the crowd. I interacted briefly with a few of them. Unfortunately, I found the opening ceremony confusing and frustrating, mainly because it was in Serbian. A few of the presenters also spoke English, but acoustics in the room were poor. I was seated in the back, so it was almost impossible to discern what was being said. My research was helpful, and I may return to view works of particular interest. The shortest production lasts a few minutes, while longer works can continue for 30+ minutes.
To my surprise, Novi Sad hasn’t been as easy a place to assimilate as Belgrade. My solo travels have taught me that without local contacts or a specific purpose, e.g., a job, larger cities are the best bet for foreign travel nomads. I leave Novi Sad the end of October for Bucharest Romania. This will be my first visit to Romania, and I’m looking forward to it! Covid restrictions have dictated much of my itinerary during this trip. I’m hopeful that those restrictions will be eliminated in the future.