• Croation Segment
Croation Segment

Liquidation - Croatian segment


The privatization process in Croatia started at the beginning of the 90s. By the end of that decade, the industrial sector and the housing fund had been privatized and the privatization of the bank sector, insurance companies, ports, etc. had begun. From the beginning, there was a surge of problems and inconsistencies. The leading party had a  majority of votes so they thought themselves the unquestionable voice of the people in this matter as well. HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union) decided on the privatization policy model without a public debate (which did occur in some of the more developed transitional countries).

According to research performed in the late nineties more than two thirds of Croatians were highly dissatisfied with the results of privatization. The negative perception of the privatization policy by the Croatian public has to do with a couple of factors, but one of the main ones is the constant changing of the privatization model - a solution that comes from handling each case separately and is based on current ad hoc objectives. This creates an unlimited arbitrary space that results in many future irregularities. It also becomes ambiguous to the common man and generates mistrust - not only with the privatization policy, but also with the transition process and the government as a whole.

The other important factor that emphasizes the negative perception is the opinion that the redistribution of former social goods was uneven, that is, it was to a lesser extent than in other transitional countries (18% in comparison to 40 - 70% in 18 other transitional countries). The consequences of this unevenness has been the formation of the social elite. In the eyes of the common people, this new social elite (political and managerial) is actually inherited from the former system (or rather, this new social elite is the junction of the former political and new managerial elite) and the moral proprietors of the former social goods were left out of the decision making process.

Constant changes of the privatization policies and the uneven redistribution of social goods gave way to the proliferation of corruption. From time to time these irregularities appeared in some of the local media, which were intensively engaged in discussing this problem openly  and encouraging public discussion. But with no reaction from the judiciary system, the mistrust in the government grew and gave way to political apathy. Although it can be maintained that the convergence of the Croatian legislature with that of the European Union, which led to the arrest of the former Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader, improved the situation, the conditions remain more or less the same. It is possible that the political apathy, which is clearly demonstrated by the diminishing number of people that come out to vote in every election, is further strengthened by the current economic crisis, which emphasizes the differences between the new social elite and the common people.

The exhibition in Pristina shows works of Bojan Mucko and Iva Marčetić, a Croatian artist and an architect that examine the privatization process in Zagreb. As a cultural anthropologist and new media artist, Bojan Mucko is conducting a long-term exploration and analysis of the unfinished processes of privatization and the effects it had on small private businesses. His work on the deterioration and massive closure of the business premises in the city center of Zagreb is a result of direct contact with people that were affected by the process. In her project Occupy Resist Produce: Map of alienated (city) labor, Iva Marčetić (member of Pula group/Praksa) explores the side effects of the privatization of public property, particularly the privatization of former industries, which have led to massive unemployment. The Map was created in collaboration with Young Antifascists of Zagreb, Kontraakcija, MASA and BRID for the March of Solidarity (November 2012, Zagreb).

The second part of the project, which is scheduled for May 2014 and will take place in the Miroslav Kraljević Gallery in Zagreb, will show works of other Croatian artists from Zagreb and other parts of the country. By including artists from different parts of Croatia, the exhibition will show some of the ways in which the privatization process is reflected upon and grasped. Furthermore, by associating different artists as well as by collaborating with Stacion and an American curator Sarah Lookofsky, the exhibition will give further opportunities for discussion and consideration.

The Croatian exhibition will show a new work by artist Dina Rončević that will deal with structures of power and possibilities of resistance and will be based on a specific case - the Kamensko factory, a former textile giant with 450 women employed that was destroyed and privatized so only a few individuals could gain more than 10 million euro off the value of the property's city estate. Dealing with this specific case, Dina Rončević raises various significant questions: (How) can you face a giant in front of you? What could they have done as women? What can she do as an artist and is it even considerate to approach the subject from an artistic point of view and not actually change the situation?

Artist Rafaela Dražić has examined the privatization process in Zagreb, which resulted with the work Master I want to make you rich (produced for UrbanFestival 2011), but is currently focusing her work on the city of Rijeka and the privatization of shipyards, which she connects with the privatization of banks. The curatorial⁄artistic collective "OUR" (Organization of Associated Labour) is dealing with  the coastal part of Croatia and was established in Split in 2010 with the purpose of a critical examination on the consequences of the transition process that the Croatian society went through during the 1990s. Concentrating on the meaning and power of memory and questioning the nature of identity, the OUR collective selects neuralgic urban locations and utilizes curatorial and artistic tools to investigate the possibilities for wider social activities and interventions. Thus far, they focused on the factory complexes (for example, Jugoplastika and Dujmovača), which were transformed by changes to the social, political and cultural paradigms during the 1990s, which ultimately led to the factories' destruction in accordance with a model which became an economic standard in Croatia in this period, i.e. transformation-privatization-rehabilitation-bankruptcy.

Photographer Bojan Mrđenović is continuously dealing with the effects of the transition process in the northeastern part of Croatia. In his series Budućnost (The Future), he documented ruined and abandoned buildings of a chain store, which is now closed, but once was the driving force of the local economy. Although completely empty, human presence is immanent in the reminiscences of the once functional infrastructure that are now only physical remnants in the new cultural landscape. What is visible in his photographs is a critical analysis of the decline of somewhat visionary socialist economical system and new forms of global neo-liberalism.

The Croatian segment of the project will also include the activist group Right to the City, an organization engaged in advocacy and public campaigning against the economic overexploitation of urban space, corruption of public governance for the benefit of private over public interests, unsustainable urban development policies, and the disenfranchisement of citizens from urban planning processes in the city of Zagreb and Croatia. Over the last five years, Right to the City has undertaken a number of protest actions intended to raise public awareness about failing and corrupt urban development and the planning policies of public authorities in the city of Zagreb, mobilizing the public against a very visible project of a shopping mall planned in the very center of Zagreb's pedestrian zone (Flower Square and Varšavska Street), as well as other cases of mismanagement in spatial policy (for example, Initiative for Marjan and Srđ is ours).

Štulhofer, Aleksandar (2003) "Društveni kapital i njegova važnost", in Dean Ajduković (ed.) Socijalna rekonstrukcija zajednice, Zagreb: Društvo za psihološku pomoć, 79-98.