The School of Visual Anthropology was launched in 2011 at the Faculty of Philosophy in Belgrade, with the support of Professor Slobodan Naumovic, the Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade, the Vega Youth Center, the Institute for the Study of Cultural Development, and many other institutions and organizations aimed at popularizing the visual anthropology in Serbia. Some of the films of the School of Visual Anthropology have won awards at domestic festivals and participated in numerous European ethno film festivals, film screenings and conferences (International Ethnographic Film Festival in Belgrade, Ethnographic Film Days in Ljubljana, Ethnocineca in Vienna, Ethnographic Film Days in Moscow, SEF Festival in Zadar, Etnoff in Skopje, BELDOCS, Interlink Dialogue Festival, Mikro Amateur Film Festival – Mikro FAF, Bosifest…).
Last year, we established the Center for Visual Anthropology – VAC (visualanthropologycenter.com) to systematically approach the organization of the School of Visual Anthropology, as well as other programs in the field of anthropology, ethnology and documentary expression. The goals of the Center for Visual Anthropology are:
Raising the visualanthropologycenter.org multimedia platform. This site will contain an archive of material taken during the School of Visual Anthropology as well as during other activities of the Center.
– Presentation and promotion of audiovisual film works through thematization of forms of human behavior culturally conditioned by social and historical circumstances in the Western Balkans
– Popularization of audio-visual anthropology;
– Creating and strengthening local and international links between young scientists and filmmakers
– Establishing a network of visual anthropologists in Southeast Europe
During the ten days of this year’s dynamic program of the School of Visual Anthropology (July 10-20, 2019) organized by the Center for Visual Anthropology – VAC in collaboration with the “Vizantrop” collective from Belgrade, the participants made eight films and 4 photo essays and multimedia projects.
The theme of this year’s School was “Borders, Boundaries and Frontiers”. Most often, the associations on the subject come from a political and social context and are mainly related to the migrant crisis and war conflicts in the Middle East, the consequences of which are strongly felt in Europe. The topic also aroused the interest of the participants in the histories and cultures of the Balkan region, so that Yugoslavia was again the focus of the work of the participants of the School. There was also a slightly more intimate tendency in this year’s thematic selection, so participants were interested in the so-called ontological, psychological and epistemological boundaries between subject and object, as well as topics with metametodological approaches that address the boundaries between scientific representations and the arts.
This year the school brought together 25 participants from Pakistan, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Croatia, Germany, Italy, Russia, Romania, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Greece, United Kingdom, Netherlands, France. Young professionals in the fields of film arts, journalism, photography, anthropology, sociology and other humanities found themselves in Belgrade to improve their knowledge and skills through lectures, film exercises, short films and photo essays, as well as socializing and sharing experiences, but also to offer Belgrade the opportunity to look through their eyes. During the 10 days of the school, participants attend lectures by Professor Slobodan Naumovic from the Department of Anthropology, Faculty of Philosophy in Belgrade, Konstantinos Aivaliotis, director of the Ethno Fest from Athens, and selectors of the Athens International Film Festival, Thomas John, Chair of Anthropology from Munster University in Germany, Sarah Lunauch -Brumen from the Department of Cultural Anthropology, University of Ljubljana, Elizabet Koneske, visual anthropologist in the field of film from Macedonia, Ivana Todorović, socially-engaged film author, Igor Čoko, visual anthropologist in the field of photography from Serbia and Kamil Paskvareli, street and fashion photographer from Italy. The mentors at this year’s School were anthropologists Relja Pekic and Nina Mladenovic, then Antonan Blanc from France, last year’s participant of the School, Daniel Sandner, cameraman from Hungary, Miklos Barna-Lipkovski, author of documentaries and photographs. Mary Barna-Lipkovski and Ana Popovic, theater directors and members of the Center for Visual Anthropology – VAC also participate in the implementation of the School’s program.
Engaged ethnographic Film Festival “Vizantrop”
Cultural Institution “Stari grad” in Belgrade, hosted a festival of engaged ethnographic film Vizantrop organized by collective “Vizantrop” in cooperation with the Center for Visual Anthropology – VAC. The festival took place from 13 to 16 June, and featured 30 short and feature films, the most recent ethno film productions from the region and world. The selection committee of the first ethnographic film festival “Vizantrop” watched 85 films from more than 30 countries. Ethnologists and anthropologists are increasingly recognizing the need to expand their methodology and analytical expression. Traditional academic representations in the form of articles or monographs provide a textual insight into cultural practices, norms and institutions of social everyday life. However, in order to more fully represent the complexities of social life and the problems that communities face, alternative academic approaches are needed, which involve multiple sensory perspectives and thus facilitate understanding of the Other. The collective gathered around the Vizantrop Festival believes that audiovisual representations can have a far reach and a wider audience than professionally written academic texts: to initiate change.