Map as a departure

May 14, 2020

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I have drawn a map in the context of The case of transnational memory called Nikola. I will continue it as the text-image entries of a sequence that overviews a vertiginous grounds. It will need continuous corrections, trimming, sharpening, and rewriting. The task is to balance the selected everyday details and familiar situations with the abysses of impersonal time. It goes together with the legend of the ‘angel of history’ – when we find a safe residency from where we can rethink the pails of ongoing disasters.

The map of the investigation is a helpful device. It has the legend, as a very compressed and relatively intuitive short introduction. However, the map, even as a simple sketch, is in itself always a provocation. To draw any line of demarcation on highly contested grounds, in this case, the ‘old’ Europe, provokes multiply heresies. It is certainly the case in the area of the recent civil wars in the Western Balkans. Or, many might be offended that somehow Romania, Hungary, and Slovenia are included in the ‘Balkan triangle’ (or any other kind of Balkan contamination). Drawing a line between Amsterdam and Berlin, which are traditionally cooperative capitals of increasingly open / less contested northern regions, also might be suspicious. On the map, these two cities are two upper tips of the ‘German triangle’. Its southern tip is ending in Banja Luka, previously a provincial town, and now next to Sarajevo, another capital inside of a triangled puzzle called Bosnia and Herzegovina. Banja Luka, my former home city, is in multiply ways (post)colonial. Not accidentally, the strait geometry of two triangles meeting at Banja Luka resembles the colonial geography. The straight lines and fused geometric shapes are cutting decisively through any cultural and geographic borders, guided by fast reasoning of external power games.

The straight lines on this map represent operational fields and trajectories of a trans-national or trans-border memory. This memory goes through all obstacles since it is in its turn formed in thin air and – for its producers as well – opaque process. As the memory is not contained by personal boundaries, it also does not hold onto national borders or political limitations. Repressing it in a system of geometrical shapes serves the purpose of bringing it back into this world, in this case, by markings on the surface of a printed map. Yet, the real memory remains in its inaccurate nature. It is a fleeting thing, switching between macroscopic and microscopic levels of existence. It is a montage to be continued.

It is a montage to be continued. Tomorrow, May 15, I will depart at 10:54 to retrace the line: Amsterdam – Berlin.