NEW MANNER OF SPEAKING: THINKtent IN THE ČOLAKOVIĆ LEGACY IN BELGRADE

On July 3rd an event called THINKtent was performed at one of the exhibition spaces of the Museum of Contemporary Art – The Čolaković Legacy. A global project by strategist and thought leader Nataša Čiča from Hobart, Tasmania, THINKtent draws attention to the important role that culture should play in every economy and every society. Its performance in Serbia was the first international appearance of THINKtent.

 

After performances earlier this year at the Sydney Opera House and the Museum of Old + New Art in Hobart, THINKtent provided the people of Belgrade with an intimate, beautiful and safe space and atmosphere to come together for conversation and reflection. Session participants had the opportunity to discuss and exchange opinions with Nataša Čiča as the host, away from the relentless distractions of smartphones and social media.

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The event was friendly and relaxing. Participants sat on specially commissioned chairs and floor cushions – enjoying a distinctive interior design by Milivoje and Miroslav Stojanović of PROTOTYPE, with costume curation from Vladimir Stojanović and bespoke scent by Natasa Bakić.  Discussions explored a wide variety of ideas, provocations and solutions, generating lively debate between THINKtent participants.   The dialogue explored strategic approaches to solving so-called ‘wicked’ problems; the potential of design for educational, economic and social development; the future of the Museum of Contemporary Art Belgrade; gender, the new economy and 21st century leadership; and the global positioning of Serbia.  Among many guests, THINKtent welcomed Gordana Plamenac, director of the National Tourism Organization of Serbia; Mirjana Prljević of CIVIS, Teslanium and the Peace + Crises Management Foundation; Vesna and Jovan Jelovac of Belgrade Design Week; Žarko Malinović from the Serbian Chamber of Commerce; representatives of the Australian Embassy in Belgrade, including the Australian Ambassador; and leading personnel from the Museum of Contemporary Art Belgrade.

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Inside THINKtent, Jovan Jelovac, founder and curator of Belgrade Design Week – which partnered to deliver THINKtent in Belgrade – emphasized the historical significance the Museum of Contemporary Art has for Serbia.  He noted this museum was established in Belgrade long before similar purpose-built institutions appeared in London or Paris, such as the Tate or Beaubourg. “The Museum of Contemporary Art was our “north star” in the 70’s and 80’s of the twentieth century. In the times when we were growing up, in a country and system different from this one, this museum taught us about how intellect will change the world. I can rightfully say that MOCAB was the birthplace of the idea of Belgrade Design Week!”

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Jelovac reminded participants that design is much more than simple form, its value is not only material and tangible. Design begins and ends with people and – like THINKtent – it connects people, providing relationships and cohesion between them.

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“For poor and less developed countries such as Serbia, the opportunity new design provides today is enormous,’ continued Jelovac. ‘As poetic justice, due to falling behind the rest of the world in terms of industrial development, such countries can skip decades of gradual improvement, with many mistakes and unwise investments in economic models that are now outdated.  We can immediately embrace the latest developments and ideas that are more affordable, more flexible, more digital, which will certainly help us prosper. This also applies to developing responses to situations of natural disaster and national emergency. Who is better equipped to respond to such situations than creative people – designers, architects and more?”.

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“THINKtent Belgrade was a rich and inspiring experience”, said its creator and producer Nataša Čiča. “I was especially delighted that so many young people led its conversations, that there was such a range of perspectives – and that people brought real passion and original thinking into the tent.  And the location at the Museum of Contemporary Art Belgrade was absolutely world class.”.

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The event closed with an elegant reception in which the session participants and other guests exchanged impressions. They enjoyed the beautiful setting by the famous art-swimming pool of the Čolaković Legacy, special edition DIPLOMAT plum brandy by Nataša Gligorijević, vanilla and hazelnut sweets by Jasna Stojanović of All nut, and fresh cherries from the Rankovic orchard in Boleč.

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All agreed that THINKtent Belgrade opened some important topics and debates – and that these inspiring discussions should become a regular practice in Serbia.

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THINKtent will next appear at the Tesla Global Forum in Fruška Gora on Sunday 13 July (Hotel Norcev, Iriški Venac). THINKtent returns to Belgrade for a food-themed presentation on Saturday 2 August – at an underground location next to Kalemegdan fortress (Radost Fina Kuhinjica, Pariska 3).  Later in August it will feature in the Danube Dialogues in Novi Sad – involving conversations between artists from Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Slovakia, Germany, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia.  For more information, email natasha@liminalstrategy.com.au

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The participant’s list is impressive! Belgrade Design Week is the best professional event I ever participated in. But to me it also has emotional significance. I am in Belgrade again, twenty years later. I was not sure what to expect but I encountered a fantastic atmosphere and amazing people. I have a feeling I have old friends here.

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