eipcp calendar

the gastarbajters

Mama club and Cinema Tuškanac, Zagreb, HR

4-6 December 2016



seminar the gastarbajters, conceived by Boris Buden in collaboration with WHW participants: Boris Buden, Ljubomir Bratić, Stipe Ćurković, Nebojša Jovanović, Gal Kirn, Julija Kranjec, Silva Mežnarić, Želimir Žilnik, WHW

Mama club, Preradovićeva 18, Zagreb 
Cinema Tuškanac, Tuškanac 1, Zagreb
Friday, 04/12/2015
Mama club
17-19:00, lecture: Nebojša Jovanović, Celuloid "Seventh Republic": gastarbajter as a motive in Yugoslav film
Saturday, 05/12/2015
Mama club
15:00 Introduction WHW
15:15-15:45 Introduction Boris Buden
16:00 – 16:45 lecture: Gal Kirn, Gastarbajterism: movement from non-exploitation to exploitation
17:00-19:00 lectures and discussion: The guest who never stops leaving, Stipe Ćurković, Julija Kranjec, Silva Mežnarić, moderator: Boris Buden
Sunday, 06/12/2015
Mama club
14:00 lecture: Ljubomir Bratić Exhibition „Gastarbajters“ in Vienna – a look back
15:00 – 16:30 discussion: Always more than a memory, Stipe Ćurković, Nebojša Jovanović, Gal Kirn, Julija Kranjec, Silva Mežnarić, Želimir Žilnik, moderator: Boris Buden
Cinema Tuškanac (in collaboration with Human Rights Film Festival)
17-19:00 Želimir Žilnik's films
Black film, 1971,(14')
The Unemployed, 1968, (13')
Inventory, 1975, (10')
Fortress Europe, 2000, (80')
19:00 Conversation: Boris Buden and Želimir Žilnik
The figure of gastarbajter (guest-worker) seems to have completely disappeared in the distant past, together with the world of industrial modernity, Cold War division into First, Second and Third World or rather their corresponding ideological paradigms of liberal democratic capitalism, historical communism and anti-colonialism. Although gastarbajter as a name for contemporary migration worker is clearly the phenomenon of the "First" world, where it at the time occupied a legally regulated  space (and time) not only at the work market but also in social or rather cultural sense, its real origins are to be found in economic, political and ideological breaks within this very "First" world – in its immanent contradictions and inequalities, such as between the developed North and chronically underdeveloped South or in other words, between the center and periphery.
Something similar, historically speaking, can be applied to ex-Yugoslavia as well. We could even say that no other phenomenon sublimes the truth of its past quite as much as the phenomenon of gastarbajter.  Moreover, through this phenomenon, in an unusually transparent way, a traumatic continuity of this history with the present and the future towards which we are moving is made apparent. Gastarbajter is much more than simply one of the characters from the narrative of our local history. Quite the contrary, he/she is the authentic narrator of this history which he/she retells beyond its identitarian particularity, opening it not just towards the world in its totality, but also towards its repressed and negated truths.
Gastarbajter is a dialectical bastard of Yugoslav self-managerial socialist system, a live metaphor of its broken promises but also an expression of its vitality and creative potential. At the same time, he/she is an early symptom of our contemporaneity. In the historical moment in which it appears, as its untimely emissary, he/she announces the world of global capitalism which creates a human paradigm of its incessant progress from the character on the margins of backward societies of European South - worker migrant.
Gastarbajter is the pioneer of this new world, global neoliberal capitalism. He/she clears its paths stepping deliberately over borders of idyllic societies of social welfare, which, in search for better life, he/she leaves, because he/she never found its place in them – but only so that entering them anew he/she could stay their eternal guest. Gastarbajter was and remained a foreigner, in society and in culture which he/she abandoned as well as in society and culture where he/she came as a guest. In both cases retrospective negation of his/her social and cultural experience, as well as suppression of his/her political articulation is a constitutive element of identity constructions of these societies, these cultures and their political institutions.
Like proletarians from the early period of capitalist modernization, gastarbajter was and remained a man/woman without homeland, persona non grata in the world he/she creates. Precisely as such he/she personifies the unconscious avant-garde of new transnational and transsocial solidarity which today, in the figure of global migration, on the ruins of modernist welfare states, looks for the form of its political articulation. A future revealed itself to us, a future that we were blind for, in the character of gastarbajter, and through this very figure we are today revealing the past which we have repressed.
Boris Buden
The program was funded by:
City office for Culture, Education and Sport of the City of Zagreb
Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia
Croatian Audiovisual Centre – HAVC
Open Society Foundations – Open Society Initiative for Europe
The program of Gallery Nova and WHW is supported by:
The National Foundation for Civil Society Development
Kultura nova Foundation
The program is organised by WHW in collaboration with Multimedia Institute, Human Rights Film Festival and Croatian Film Association.

photo: Sun of the Foreign Sky, directed by Milutin Kosovac, 1968.