Marjetica Potrc Travels a Lost Highway

For a month last summer, more than 200 people from Europe and the US travelled the Western Balkans as a collective artwork. Its goal was to anticipate the economic, political and cultural geographies of Eastern Europe in the coming years. Marjectica Potrc was one of the participants in "The Lost Highway Expedition". Other participants represented an international group of architects, artists and urbanists. The expedition will generate an exhibition and a publication that poses new questions and research directions.

As in all of Potrc's projects, this one dispenses with separatist tactics by circumventing mute audiences and neutral sites. By accessing the creativity of the audience as well as the artist, it approached the art audience as an opportunity for dynamic engagements that are complex, collaborative, and adaptive. It incouraged interactive principles that are non-controllable, non-predictable, and non-immediate.
lost-highway-expediitonThe journed proceeded over an actual highway that was built to connect the major cities of Yugoslovia’s republics. It stands as a failed effort to overcome national differences in the pursuit of utopian unity. The collapse of Communism explains the title. Now the highway is 'lost'.  The Lost Highway Expedition also hopes to establish new networks exploring shared meanings for the future of Europe. Each location initiated new research because each intervention explores a cultural topic that was unique to that locale. The programs of lectures, workshops, seminars, master-classes, and research studios ultimately generated cultural projects such as artworks, performances, exhibitions, architecture interventions, critical writing, etc. These diverse activities were undertaken to open unexpected paths of dialogue among individuals who would not otherwise work together toward a common goal.
Each project phase built upon the base for the last one, thus posing new set of questions and determining new research directions. In this manner, ”Lost Highway Expedition” explored such timely themes as native/alien, risk/opportunity, immigration/migration, etic/emic methodologies, political/physical obstacles, etc.

The journey included two days of events at each of nine host cities and one day of travel in between. Word of the expedition traveled like a rumor from friend to friend and colleague to colleague. Projects and collaborations between travelers and hosts ensued. There were radio shows and other events produced by cultural organizations and artist groups in the host cities.

The Lost Highway Expedition was a collaboration between the Centrala Foundation for Future Cities and the School of Missing Studies, a network for experimental study of cities marked by or currently undergoing abrupt transition. It was supported by the Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trust for Mutual Understanding. Special thanks also to the MIT Arts Council.

SMS’s strategies are designed to generate independent initiatives that elaborate upon the original project and have an enduring impact on the community. These efforts are optimized because they come from regions that have multifaceted unwritten histories and are undergoing transition. They include the nine new capitals of the Western Balkans (Zagreb, Croatia; Ljubljana, Slovenia; Novi Sad and Belgrade, Serbia; Skopje, Macedonia; Prishtina, Kosova; Podgorica, Montenegro; Tirana, Albania; Sarajevo, Bosnia and Hercegovina), as well as Munich, Rotterdam, Zurich, and New York.

Marjetica Potrc was awarded an residency at MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies.

Expedition passed through Novi Sad on August 5th and 6th, 2006.
Theme of disccusions in Novi Sad is “Urban recreation”