Vlado Martek


I was explaning to my classmates what stereotypes Balkan carries (animalistic, violent, constant conflict) and my tutor Mike said it sounds like England. I thought it was interesting because everyone can recognize their inner fears and frustrations with their own countires in the Balkans.

This reminded me of Vlado Martek’s work – Balkan. The US map depicts the names of major Croatian contemporary artists instead of cities. Martek said that the United States is working perfectly to explain the Balkan stereotype, asking what is more ununifed than USA, where each country has a separate culture, laws, and mentality?

The existence of the Balkans as Europe’s periphery is important for EU and the rest of Europe as they can carry out an image of a purely positive category.


EU Passports

The course of European history was changed drastically on November 9th 1989 when the Berlin Wall fell. This set a tone for what was gonna happen next with the rest of socialist states across Eastern Europe. Soviet Union separated quietly, while the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was in for years of bloody conflict – the Yugoslav wars. SFRY consisted of six republics: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia (sovereign provinces Kosovo and Vojvodina), Montenegro and Macedonia. It existed from its foundations in mid 50’s to 1991 when Slovenia and Croatia declared their independence. In the context of the Eastern Block, Yugoslavia had a significantly different political stance to the rest of socialist Europe.

I feel Yugoslav conflict might be connected to Croatia’s passport design.

European Union has a standard for its memeber countries to have unified passports by using red (burgundy) for the covers. Croatia (member since 2013) is the only country that doesn’t have a red passport. Strangely enough, the passports were re-designed recently, and the color remains navy blue. Some might susspect this is due to the fear of red (communism) and association with ex Yugoslavia and the 90’s conflict. In the same way, I feel the reason why (at least one of the reasons) Croatia is shying away from being associated with the Balkans is association with Serbia and again, the conflict.


Every EU members’ passports.

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Croatian passport

Horniman Museum drawings

I began by drawing taxidermied animals on backgrounds from video stills I took in the museum. On the left the background is a denim jacket from a video still. I wanted to clash organic and man-made. I felt like these drawings were too literal and had nothing to do with my personal project, but the clash is something I wanted to further explore.

Later, I became interested in the classification of bones and artifacts in the museum. Idea of giving someting a depersonalised name reminded me of stereotypes. It felt as if putting a name on something meant it belonged in a group. So I began drawing objects more abstract, without a context and classifiying them. The idea is that in some, it is very difficult to understand what they are, but they are still given a name and being classified to a group.

The Balkans and the sterotype

This is what the Balkan peninsula is geographically. However, much like Eastern Europe, it is used as a cultural term. I found an ironic chart for individual country stereotype. Interestingly enough, Slovenia is depicted as civilisation as they completely deny being part of the Balkans. Croatia is doing the same now, completely shying away from association with the Balkans.

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the Balkans – Savage tribes

Slovenia – Civilisation

Croatia – Savages lying to themselves they’re not savages

Bosnia and Herzegovina – Physical workers savages

Serbia – Savages

Montenegro – Crimi-savages

Kosovo, Alabania – Narko-cartel savages

Macedonia – Ajvar savages

Romania, Bulgaria – Savages who fucked over EU

The Others of Europe – self-initiated project

This is a personal exploration of the cultural classification ‘the Balkans’. How are the Balkans generally perceived, what are the stereotypes that follow it, etc. Project will explore the classification from a personal perspective and explore Croatia’s position within the Balkans and EU considering the classification.

Initial research:
Imagining the Balkans – Maria Todorova, book
Interrogation Machine – Alexei Monroe, book
East Art Map (Contemporary Art and Eastern Europe) – IRWIN, book

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