In the early nineties, more exactly during the end of the April 1992, at the time when aggression on Bosnia and Herzegovina started, in which our part of the former Yugoslavia, Serbia and Montenegro, played crucial role, Milica and I have decided to leave our country of origin and our city of birth, Belgrade, with firm intention never to come back. The main reason for our decision to emigrate was the fact that we didn't want to play any part in what we considered not to be our position - brutal violence inflicted by some members of our nation on to former fellow countryman. But, since we only had limited one-week visa we suddenly found ourselves in the position of someone who is persona non grata in the Western Europe. There simply wasn't a way in which someone coming from Serbia could obtain a new visa. We didn't want to stoop to the pathetic act of applying for the status of the "political refugee", thatŐs of someone who is not welcome in his own country. To be more precise, we felt we did not earned that status because our beliefs, at that time, were marginal and minor so we could not find a way to make them public or transparent. We found ourselves on the no man's land. On one hand we faced with the impossibility of returning to the country we didn't consider ours anymore and on the other hand we were a priory excluded from the Western European community in which someone coming from Serbia could never become legal emigrant. In other words, we become illegal habitants of the Europe, people without papers, we entered obscure Other of Europe, outside the Law and its protection. And we learnt from this experience. We learnt that it is not possible anymore to be emigrant, which is to be someone who freely circulates Europe ever-ready to jump in to the Abyss of not having an identity.
The only thing that was left to us was to surrender ourselves to the fact that in the very dark underbelly of Europe there are processes in which you have to identify yourself and obtain segregation identity of the space from which you came. In other words, to be branded, regardless of your will, with the fixed identity of the ethnic space you originated from. Freud's great parole from the beginning of the century, which was after all century of mass emigration, that "Man is not the Master in his own home" at the end of that same century is suddenly inverted into "Man is the Master of his own home only when he leaves it". That means that processes of segregation into fixed ethnic identities are not only something that concerns or happens to the periphery of the Third World but processes that are under the way in the dark refugee zone of the West itself, for which we naively believed to be free from them. Paradox that you can meet your own ethnic community in its undiluted folklore variety only on the streets of Frankfurt, Chicago or New York and not "in your own home"forced us to accommodate the politics of the no-man's land to the Belgrade terrain in which we returned after eight months of our illegal emigration. Since than we live in the country that is "ours"in order to evade segregation in the Serbian fixed identity from which we run away in the early nineties. I think that there is moral to this story that can be useful for our conversation and that is why I am telling it to you in its full version. So to conclude, since then we are emigrants in our own country and that is only position we find to be correct. We try to force our political community time and time again to face situation in which we found ourselves. That's why we never again wanted to, although there were many such possibilities (not counting shorter trips abroad for exhibitions, lectures or some other projects), leave Belgrade forever, because only in Belgrade we do not have to be Serbs and it is possible to demonstrate our artistic and theoretical politics as well as to make that position socially relevant. It is also important to accentuate that, since WWW has become real communication channel, status of the international artist that lives and works far from the international centers of art has become possible and that possibility also supports our position of the "inside emigrant".
While we were trying these days to obtain visa and to develop alternative tactics in case we are refused, we suddenly realized that our position is also our reality, and not only now but also then in 1992. So, if we really want to contribute to the GO HOME project we must not overlook that fact.
In other words, unlike Danica and Sandra, who are refugees, we are different kind of displaced people, "inside emigrants". That is why I think that it is important, almost essential, for us to present ourselves, to enunciate, from our real position, position of people who remained in that city, Belgrade, and to conduct conversation from here and not from New York. I feel, notwithstanding all technical difficulties, confusion inherent to the lack of the live communication, etc, that this position is inevitably vital for the success of the project because that is also part of our situation.
What is your opinion?
Branimir and Milica