Montenegro - Part 15

posted by usha on 2006/02/09 09:40

[ Montenegro ]

The Montenegrin media landscape has been a topic at the past conference Emergence3, presented by Koča Pavlović. When he told us about the manifold connections between media owners, political parties, and money sources in Montenegro, he did not forget to name the politically oriented projects he is involved, too, as, for example, the Group for Changes.

Koča Pavlović pleads for the rational and responsible handling with the past. His introduction to the screening of the documentary War for Peace (Author: Koča Pavlović. Production: IPG Obala, 2004), which was also presented at last year's Balkan Black Box Festival in Berlin, show this by approaching the terms "memory" and "remembering" from different viewpoints:

We are what we remember

[...] We tend to erase traumatic events from our memory. Selectivity is the matter, of course. Such approach is sometimes useful and even recommended, as in the case of many survivors of the ex-Yugoslav drama.

We also tend to overemphasize certain events and happenings considered a success, and elevate their importance without true merit. Such escape routes sometimes serve as a large paintbrush to cover over specific time periods inour lives and our collective history. We remember laughter and friendship, victories on a battlefield, highlanders and their tribal bonds, in order to marginazlize and hopefully erase memories of hardship, hunger, fear, defeat, hatred, and pain.

Our memories are constructions - pieces patched together to make our history. Images we have of ourselves are shaped by our actions at specifics points in time but also by our dreams of who we are, or (more often) by desires of who we would like to be. Those images and desires change over time and we often crave to preserve the old romanticised notions of our own significance, pride, sense of justice, and honor. The way we act (or fail to do so) within specific historical circumstances, however, does change such notions and present us with the dilemma: who we really are. It also raises the question of difference: Who we once were and who are we now.

[...] The answer must underline the qualitative difference between the way we thought of ourselves in the past and the way we see ourselves at present, and acknowledge the forces that shaped such a difference.

The old stereotype of Montenegrins as brave, just, trustworthy, honorable, and lazy was a functional element in past centuries. That mythologised structure was shattered during the last decade of the 20th century. It was deluted by blood of our brother that we spilled. It disappeared into the fog of war reaching from Slovenia to Kosovo. That "heroic Montenegro was shattered on the walls of Dubrovnik", states Slavko Perović in my film.

Should we have any regrets because such Montenegro is no more?

Sentimentality and romanticised memories of the past would urge us to say YES. Such an answer raises another question: should we have any regrets for the disappearance of the former state (SFRY) within which Montenegro and the Montenegrins inhabited these stereotypes? Again, sentimentality proveds a positive answer - YES!

I believe we should have no regrets in either case! We should neither mourn the passing of the so-called "heroic Montenegro" nor the disappearance of a broader state framework that housed such a mythological construct. Reinforcing stereotypes is not what our generation should do. I firmly believe that we have to work on creating a new image of ourselves. We have to reshape, in a novel way, our memories of ourselves! Wehave to critically re-examine roles we played during the last decades of the 20th century, both on an individual and a collective level. Only then we can be able to catch up with the pace of changes.

[...] New remembering should help us face our own marginality. It is, therefore, necessary, to debunk the myth and a private dream of many old and new Montenegrin rulers of creating some kind of Greater Montenegro! [...] We should historisize our efforts by deconstructing such dreams starting with King Nicholas I and his Military adventures at Scutari and Prižren, and finish with the most recent ill-fated adventure of our rulers at Dubrovnik.

Facing ourselves should help us to realize how irresponsible we indeed are. We have to name those individuals responsible for mistakes we made as a collective. Constructing new memory should help us realize the dangers of forgetting fast! Facing our new self - composed of all the ills, as well as the good things should teach us about our limits and possibilities, and make us a more responsible community, as well as help us not to forget all the bad things we have done.

I have made this film as a small memory chip that should be integrated into a new image of ourselves.


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