Mar 19

Thanks to the European Voluntary Service there are sixteen volunteers in Belgrade at the moment. The fact that is more interesting and less known is how many Serbs are abroad via this program? Even though this number is not known to us we - the volunteers - decided to increase it. So we tried to create an event where we would, by offering and preparing information, awake the interest in young people for volunteering through the EVS program in a simple and attractive way.

The process of preparation and organizing the event was very inspiring to us. I would like to lead you through the steps - questions, dilemmas and planning processes we took.

Step 0. The Preparation

Let all the volunteers know what’s going on, and invite them to come to the Event Planning Meeting to give their ideas.

Step 1. The Preparation

What do we need to prepare the event?

Posters and flyers are important. What will we print on them? Which catchy line will we use? What will we offer to those who are interested in the event?

How to distribute the flyers among interested people? A visit to the universities, cafes and cultural institutions is not enough. A flash mob on pedestrian zone and in front of universities might be successful!

And the program? We unquestionably have to explain what EVS is. What will be next? To whom are we talking to, why to participate, how to apply (in few simple steps). These are the most important and the most significant things.

Who will be the event guests? We decided to call someone who is experienced and knowledgeable when it comes to the application process, problems and life of volunteers. Let’s invite a former volunteer! But he/she must be a citizen of this country, so the visitors don’t get the picture that only foreigners know how it is to be an EVS volunteer. We could also invite a mentor. He will explain that every volunteer has a mentor - a person in the hosting institution who will always be there for them to help solve different problems and help with different tasks. It would be really good to invite someone from one of the organizations that are coordinating the Voluntary service - hosting and sending volunteers. It would be best if he/she is a natural speaker. Our guest should inspire, let’s invite them..

We could also show some of our voluntary service results? A short sketch, a movie? We will call the volunteers to bring interesting things they’ve done and present it.

And the after party is a must. We just have to find the right place…

Step 2. The Process

A living room in one of volunteers‘ flats is filled with traces of the birthday party we had yesterday. It’s not time to talk about this. Let’s define the concrete details for the event that is due for Wednesday.

The roles are split. Everyone knows what should be his/her focus. Extroverts are going to speak, others are going to be the supporters. Questions for guests are prepared, the speakers have the necessary explanations ready, the movie is finished, the comics are sketched to reveal the most important answers. Everything is well practiced. Guests have promised participation.

Jump into the future“ is the line we chose. To avoid comparison with typical EVS Info seminars, our topic will be: „A Slalom through the golden threat of EVS“. This is the subject created for December. Posters and flyers are printed, design is made by volunteers.

Two days before the event is the best time for attracting attention - our flash mob. There are a lot events in Belgrade every day. If we do it earlier, no one will remember it. And what will structure our flash mob? To suddenly approach a person and give him a flyer followed by a mass applause of other present volunteers. A little bit aggressive but it will surely cause a stir.

Meanwhile people are added on Facebook.

Step 3.

Voluntary in Belgrade #4 was held on the 14th of December 2011 in Cultural Centre Rex.

We made it!

Video will be available soon.


To everyone who by attending our Voluntary in Belgrade #4 decided to become a volunteer and everyone else interested in this program: we are keeping our fingers crossed for finding and writing their own projects and wish them lots of luck!


Mar 09

One of the reputable annual festivals happening in Belgrade that is visited by great number of people is FREE ZONE* Film Festival. The festival program is made out of films from all around the world which address human rights and related issues. My host organization – Cultural Center REX is its organizer.

Free Zone is a sister festival to One World festival (this one I know from Slovakia), since both of them are oriented towards the problematic of human rights. The topic of the 7th edition of Free Zone held in 2011 was Tomorrow, so everything concerning the festival was directed towards that idea.

I wasn’t there when the Free Zone team chose that theme, but I asked them to explain this choice to me. They had plans to cooperate with young people during the year 2011. They wanted high-school students to come up with the visual identity of the festival in relation to a certain topic. As you can suppose, there was no more suitable theme than Tomorrow - a topic closely connected to youth and human rights activities. The students had one month to create and send their works/projects (pictures, photos, models, collage, headline, radio jingle, promo videos..). The hardest job was the selection in accordance to the technical and visual criteria set by the Free Zone Team. About six weeks before the beginning of the festival, Free Zone team (including me, of course) started working very hard. We were a bit late at the start, but everything turned out well. The attendance was high, the audience was satisfied and inspired. All we are left with now is, of course, Tomorrow, and the setting of the new topic for this year’s edition.

The most important festival award is the Audience award. According to the audience, the film that was expected to be the winner in the year 2011 (and won) was Waste land. This documentary film, created in Brazilian-British co-production, is a story about an artist who used his wealth and the dedication to his ideas to give hope of a better life to the workers. The workers were ordinary people living in very bad conditions, recycling garbage on the dump and getting paid for it. He took a set of photos of them, then he used this photographs and created large scale pictures made by garbage, and in the end he took photos of the large scale pictures. This was the final shape of artworks, which he brought to the auction sale. By including the dump workers in every part of the process, he changed their daily life routine, shaken their thoughts and gave a sense of satisfaction to their lives. He gave them hope and showed them that they could also live and not only exist.

I watched this movie after the festival within the program called “Monthly screenings at Rex” so in that time I’ve already known that this film won the festival prize. Thus, I had expectations. After half of an hour watching I thought: „How is it possible, that in a country where recycling almost doesn’t exist, the winner of the festival is the film in which the story is built mainly on this issue?“ And then I got it - it’s about something else. The winner of the last year Free Zone festival – the movie The world according to Ion B was a story about a homeless guy, a non-professional artist who became a famous pop-art artist because he was recognized by other people. So, the basic concept of both of the films is the same: it is believed that the lives of people from the edge of society, ordinary people, change to better once they are inspired to reveal their life stories „in the name of the art of film“. Viewers remain in faith that world changes to better. It seams to me that people just need happy endings.

Free Zone team members are not only active during the festival time. You can find all the important information about the festival on their web page:

One of the main Free Zone activities is also the Regional tour throughout Serbia. The Tour will be organized in 30 cities in 2012. and will be based on the selection of the best movies that were screened in the last edition of the festival according to the audience.

The FREE ZONE team also prepares additional educational material for professors of civic education in high schools and elementary schools. This program is composed out of documentaries and text books prepared  for use as a tool for teaching. After three successful editions for high-school pupils, the team has concentrated on primary schools. This concept is introduced in detail in seminars organized throughout the year. In these seminars, teachers learn how to organize their lectures, what to concentrate on and what to expect from the project in general.

Every two years FREE ZONE organizes a movie camp for high-school students where they learn how to direct, edit and write scripts for documentaries. This year, all the ExYU countries were included in this project. The camp is constructed out of two parts - in the first part students are learning about the theory of film. After that they have a few months to work on their individual projects. In the second part they present their scripts. Three best participants get a chance to make their own documentary films. Two years ago Nikola Polić got that opportunity. He made a movie about sexual workers and their life in Serbia and got the award for The best documentary movie or TV show about sexual or gender based violence award.

Former camp participants are invited to select movies for one of the festival’s program line  called the Junior-Selector category. Thanks to such activities, Free Zone educates young generation of viewers in Serbia.

I recommend everybody to visit Free Zone during festival period in November, or monthly projections throughout the year so you can feel the real atmosphere of Free Zone.

Similar activities have organizations all over the world which are dealing with human rights film festivals, but concrete realization and results are different in every country since the identities of those festivals are composed of different details. However, all of them depend on the same matter.

*Free Zone doesn’t belong to any country. A place which knows no censorship, where critical thought is needed, and where everyone can find her/his object of interest. A space where people get together, discuss and demonstrate the fact that it is not true that nobody cares what happens in the world.

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Feb 28

As each day was passing by, people visiting exhibitions, projections and debates in REX started having more and more clothes on. I decided to warm up REX’s audience in a bit of an unusual way, and for that purpose invited one of my volunteer friends to present his flaming POI skills.

Jay came from Britain to do a voluntary service in E8 Center in Belgrade, where he was helping with preparing seminars and discussions about gender equality and prevention of drug abuse (it sounds very general, but they are working on ’small’ concrete projects which are changing the world). In his free time, he was dedicated to the juggling art named POI.

Voluntary in Belgrade #3 was organized on the 24th of November in REX. During his performance, Jay told us about his voluntary life and gave a step by step explanation of  this dangerous and very exciting art skill. Just listening to him was enough to realize that he adores POI, as well as that he adores talking about it.

He demonstrated POI technique with the help of a few volunteers from the audience. They started with the ’sock phase’. This didn’t seem so interesting for the audience, but the people that were brave enough to assist Jay got the hang of the rhythm after a while. At the end it was difficult for them to stop swirling. They learned two or three tricks and it wouldn’t surprise me if they soon tried some more complicated moves.

One of Jay’s great wishes was to make a workshop for POI fans in Belgrade. He’s been practicing POI for more than seven years and already had some experience in expanding the knowledge of this juggling technique to different interested people.

The audience was curiously waiting for the light performance at the end. Fire POI was replaced by LED lighted POI, and when all the lights were switched off we could see the fascinating rainbow show. The video will be available soon.

I wish Jay hundreds and hundreds of performances. Without getting burnt, of course.


Sep 13

A few weeks ago, my roommates asked me if I can organize a premiere of their recently finished documentary movie about street art and stencil art in Belgrade. Since I gave some thought about starting my own project within my host organization, I answered: “Yeah, of course. It will be really good“. So, the date was set.

March was my first month in Belgrade, which is when I came to volunteer in a Cultural Center Rex that define itself as a place for contemporary, socially engaged art and practice. Since this time, I worked on a number of Rex’s projects and with the inner structure of Cultural Centre, but mainly on Free Zone Film Festival Project, where I am a part of the organizational team working closely on PR databases and communication with local volunteers.

Some time ago, while going through the box where Rex keeps flyers for their former programmes, I stummbled upon a flyer entitled “Youth in action: volunteers party a Rex” that was organized by former EVS volunteers in Rex Martina Prokopova and Aleksandar Stamatovski. This thought about organizing a programme that will bring all the people that are part of the European Voluntary Service together in one place was going through my mind for some time. Creating a joint force of people who have a different outside view of the city and its life could be very useful and productive. So, I decided to create a platform for volunteers, an EVS night to exchange experiences, create new friends, cooperate with each other and support each other. This is an ongoing monthly event that will be upgraded and enriched with new people, new experiences and new ideas, entitled “Voluntary in Belgrade: EVS tips and tricks, future projects and results to come”.

The movie Coloring the white city (in Serbian, Belgrade means White City) will be presented at Cultural Centre Rex in Belgrade on next Monday, the 19th of September. After the screening, authors and at the same time my roommates - Angela Naranjo (Spain), Vincent Grethen (France) i Marie-Noelle Battaglia (France), volunteers of International Education Centre in Belgrade, will talk about their film-making and volunteer experiences.


It will surely be fun and inspirative, as usually with them. My only hope is that next month some other volunteer will come and ask me: “Can we have premiere of our…”

Best regards to all,

Apr 05

After spending two rather unforgettable months in France I’ve realized that EVS experience is hard to describe in a few words, but I could try by using several clichés and say that it’s something in the middle between “Eat, Pray, Love”* (one year trip with a lot of tasty food, self-reflection and trying out new things) and “L’Auberge Espagnole” (which refers more to communication - using at least three languages on a daily basis and meeting nice people from different countries).

So, let me introduce myself, I’m Inga Lace, I come from Latvia, where I did my Management of Culture studies and some nice jobs in this sphere until I found Noass who became my sending organization. I like contemporary art and reading in the parks, and different kinds of mixtures are good for me (dance + music, art + science, social + business, coffee + milk etc.) And I don’t like tomato juice.

I am an EVS volunteer in Mains d’Œuvres, Saint-Ouen (it’s almost Paris). Describing in my own words, Mains d’Œuvres is an organization that has a very rich programme of concerts, contemporary dance and theatre events, exhibitions, workshops and a centre for digital art and development (“something digital” as I said for the first time when I tried to explain it) and a lot of interdisciplinary projects as well. Moreover for each discipline there are artists in residencies which make around 60 people being closely related to my new working place.

Mains d’Œuvres in a lively Friday evening

Mains d’Œuvres in a lively Friday evening

My daily work in Mains d’Œuvres consists of assisting in marketing, administrative work and event preparation. That includes a lot of smaller and bigger tasks that helps to get to know the colleagues and organization very well. For example, I’ve cut the photos of residents to make the resident’s cards for all of them, I’ve been arranging the bookshop for opening of exhibition together with the curator and other volunteers, I’ve been walking around the galleries of Paris to distribute flyers, as well as learning the InDesign for making the press review, being a model for a dance event flyer and moving around with the plates in the restaurant (which is a good practise of French, by the way, to hear an reply to all the “un café, s’il vous plait”, “du pain” (bread) and “de l’eau” (water). It’s fun, without doubts.

I've seen the "stickers" method for learning language only in movies..

I've seen the "stickers" method for learning language only in the movies before

I have gradually got accustomed to eating bread in every meal, having all the incredibly tasty things in boulangeries, kissing on two cheeks and going to work by the metro line 13 that’s the most crowded metro ever. So, I can now start to plan a project of my own which will be related to the screening of Latvian video from Noass archive. The other project I am doing a research on now is establishing the sustainability (ecological as well as economical and intellectual) in the organization. And I will also participate in the promotion of our lovely restaurant, as well as prepare a tour in English for visitors of the next exhibition.

Also, it makes me delighted every time I think of the many and different possibilities of spending time in here and finding exactly the things that are interesting for me. There have already been contemporary art exhibition openings, lectures of artists from different countries, discovering a special “somethingyoushouldknow” mailing list, dance shows, concert of a completely lovely British band “Lulu and the Lampshades”, artistic squats, looking to Paris from above, going to the Sunday’s fresh vegetable market, learning to see the difference between modern, postmodern and contemporary architecture and a lot more.

Sun in Saint-Ouen

Sun in Saint-Ouen

* ”Eat, Pray, Love” – a book by Elizabeth Gilbert, 2010.
** “L’Auberge Espagnole” – the movie directed by Cédric Klapisch (2001), the first one I watched in French.

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Jul 26

"Water. Sinking Cities" Exchange in Latvia

Water. Sinking Cities. is a project developed and managed by EVS volunteers (Monica Aggio and Linda Konone) at Trans Europe Halles Member Centres P60 (Amstelveen, The Netherlands) and NOASS (Riga, Latvia). Two international groups work on the project’s theme: Water as an element of the nature and water embedded in sinking cities reflection. Exchanges take place between the two countries, leading up to audiovisual art works for the final presentations in Riga and Amstelveen.

Whole exchange is divided into 3 steps:

From 21st to 27th June – exchange in Riga.
26th June - live audio visual performance in NOASS art space.

July - August – communication on the internet platform
The artists upload audio-visual materials and share ideas for the next Exchange

From 13th to 19th September – exchange in Amstelveen.
18th September – live audio visual performance in P60 venue.

Exchange in Riga has successfully finished.
The main idea of step 01 was to meet for the first time, get to know each other and to divide into successful and productive crews. Because of a good start and right activities, despite the short time, both artist crews managed to create very nice performances. And not least, the exchange itself went very well and pretty active.

The artists involved are: Ashkan Honarvar (NL), Emile Van De Coevering (NL), Gatis Stauga (LV), Kaspars Groševs (LV), Krišs Zilgalvis (LV), Roberts Galviņš (LV), Robin Koek (NL), Sander Houtman (NL), and Marieke Van De Ven (NL).

Some comments from participants about week in Riga:

“I think the idea of WSC itself is promising and even intriguing, at least for me. All artists are quite different from each other in means of expression and activities, and I like the challenge it offers. However sometimes it was hard to understand what is it exactly that we are working on - an art work, performance, entertainment piece? Perhaps it’s not that important, but these questions naturally come along with concerns of finding purpose in using image, sound, space, event. Conceptual guidelines and some “curatorial guidance” can really help in shaping up the result. Because if artists start from the scratch and there’s no real direction or guidelines than most probably the artist will do what he/she does best. In case of a group project it can lead to more or less interesting combinations or more likely dissonant fragments.
The week passed by really fast so it was just enough time to get to know everyone better and find some common interest point to work with. I thought the technical limitations didn’t disturb that much - just helped narrowing down all the possible choices, however unclarity of whether or not LED screen can be used left some choices to the last moment. The work process was quite short but kind an intense and it was interesting for me to try stepping into club culture aesthetics. I feel it has a potential of rethinking its elements and structures. So I hope this working process has just started and we will be able to work more on clearing the end result.”

Kaspars Groševs (LV)

“I think the exchange of Holland with Latvia was a very good one. Not only did we learn a lot and got inspired from each other, we also had a great week just spending time with the group. Good progress on the projects at day and interesting discussions at night. I was very satisfied with the (semi)end-results after just one week of cooperation. And participating in the Latvian midsummer festival was really a fantastic experience! I’m looking forward to the next part of the Exchange in Holland”

Sander Houtman (NL)

“The first step of the project was great. It was a good chance to meet all participants and exchange ideas. It was challenging for me (in a good way) to work with different kind of artists and meet different cultures (and subcultures).
I really hope that we gonna make something good in Amsterdam.”

Krišs Zilgalvis (LV)

City collage by Ashkan Honarvar (NL)

City Collage by Ashkan Honarvar (NL)

Read more about “Water. Sinking Cities.” at the project’s website.

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Jun 29

Just to have an idea how great was the first exchange in Riga!

Other info, videos, photos and comments in the website:

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Jun 11

we are sinking

in p60

sink with us

Jun 09

In the beginning of April I went to Žilina, Slovakia for the Changing room exchange. My expectations were only to see how it works and meet the people there, and with such expectations I could hardly get disappointed. The weather was getting warmer, the people were very kind, and soon I lost the feeling of being a tourist.

Park behind Stanica

Park behind Stanica

In the centre I helped in conceptualizing and preparing art workshops for children, although I was more an observer while they were taking place, due to the language barrier. I recorded and edited activist actions of cyclists, and helped organize them ( I was also lucky to be able to go on a trip, where we looked for abandoned cinemas for the KinoBus festival, which will take place in September. With their EVS volunteer Jitka Sedláková, whom I met on the TEH meeting in Krakow, I prepared an exhibition of videos, dealing with the subject of fairytales, stories, and myths, which we opened shortly before my residency in Stanica finished. I also participated as an author, as the exhibition included my video work, which I created during my stay in Slovakia. My work also included other smaller jobs, like distributing flyers and posters, walking the dog, and intensive socializing with Stanica’s team. J

Kino Bus trip

Kino Bus trip

I think the exchange was useful for me, since I got to see and experience the work process and organization in the chosen cultural centre. I met a lot of interesting people, and wish to continue cooperating with them in the future. A sort of production/programme exchange between Stanica and Pekarna is already taking place, actually. In April, Stanica’s band The Jerremy Franklin Wedding Band performed in Pekarna, and a light-design workshop took place in the same week (led by Tomaš Marny). Two dance performances were also planned as part of this exchange, but unfortunately had to be cancelled due to the injury of one of the dancers. The cancelled performances will therefore be presented in Pekarna in the autumn. In addition, three of the bands that work, practice, and perhaps even live in Pekarna – Nina Bulatovix, Coma Stereo and Vortex Magnolia – will visit Stanica in the end of August and perform there.

In September, we are preparing and exhibition of Czech illustrators in Maribor. The curator of the exhibition is Stanica’s EVS volunteer Paula Byrtusova. We also plan to bring (and expand) the video exhibition Fairy tale to Maribor.

I also learned how to sew books. That’s a useful thing. ;)

Sewing books workshop

Sewing books workshop

The exchange was a really pleasant experience for me and for sure I would recommend it to others. I seriously have nothing to complain about. I am up for another exchange right away… but it’s also possible that I had such a great time because Stanica is so great. <3



Jun 02

Alte Feuerwache, Cologne

Alte Feuerwache, Cologne

I have  arrived well in Koln. Kerstin, member of the board of Alte Feuerwache, welcomed me and lent me her bedroom.

The first thing we did when I arrived Sunday at the beginning of the evening, was go to the center. I discovered the outside by night and I enjoyed having a Kölsch at the restaurant.

Alte Feuerwache, Cologne

Alte Feuerwache, Cologne

On Monday I had a meeting with Peter (the one responsible for the teen activities) who explained the organization and the activities of Alte Feuerwache to me. I visited all the buildings and met some artisans (wood, sculpture, metal, glass, gold…) in their workshops. The thing I noticed is that Alte Feuerwache has a strong social and political engagement.
On Tuesday I spent my morning with Yohanna and her teenage girls. They have a club especially for them at the last floor with a terrasse and a computer room. I used stencils to make postcards, teeshirts, bags with them,..

Alte Feuerwache, Cologne

Alte Feuerwache, Cologne

On Wednesday it was shadow theater with the youngest. We draw halloween caracters and animated them behind white sheets. Parents came to watch the show at the end.
On Thursday I had a coffee with the teenage boys in their coffee room. They showed me videos and photos of the activities they had already done. Birgit, in charge of children activities, explained to me how they work in Alte Feuerwache. Their aim is really to support families and help children to blossom.
On Friday I took a train to Dusseldorf to meet Jochen, manager of a place called Zakk. We had a long discussion and we visited the whole place. He invited me to join a discussion group for an international seminaire in June 2010.

Bike rides, museums, discoveries of all kind (places, food, people,..) were also part of the experience.

It is the end of the week and it is time to rest and assimilate all the things I have done. This project was all about meeting, talking, and thinking alone and together. Things we don’t take time to do in our daily activities.