I am very excited to announce that my translation of "Titoland" just went into print. It will be published by V.B.Z., a renown publisher from Zagreb and very soon available in bookstores in Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
If you are in Zagreb, you might be interested in seeing my mother's exhibition "What Happened to Wilhelm Reich?" which will open in Galerija Studenskog Centra on 19th of June. Here's the text I wrote for the exhibition catalogue: Since its beginnings, Jagoda Kaloper’s artistic opus has dealt with one single topic – the pain of human existence. At her first exhibition in 1970, she invited the visitors to look at themselves in a huge mirror placed on the gallery floor. Then she placed black silhouettes all around Zagreb, reminding us of the negativity we carry in ourselves and spread to each other. Forty years later, in her award-winning art film «Woman in the Mirror», she turned the mirror towards herself. She asked herself who am I, why am I and why do I hurt? In the exhibition «What Happened to Wilhelm Reich?» Jagoda connects the questions she has been visually asking for over half a century with questions asked by the movies in which she acted, most specifically with «W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism.» Dušan Makavejev's 1971 movie analyzed communism and capitalism through Reich's theories of Orgone, human and universal energy. In the mean time, both of those systems have failed, but what persisted – stronger then ever in the history of human existence – is the yearning for the Garden of Eden, for a humanitarian environment in which we have finally learned to cherish our humanity and therefore annihilated black silhouettes. As long as we haven't achieved this, as long as we haven't accepted our human power, the world will be filled with wars, injustice and pain. And Jagoda Kaloper will continue to look painfully into the mirror and ask herself why we are still not capable of elevating ourselves above our own darkness.
Zagreb is not the town it was when I left 20 years ago. During the war in 90’s, the population doubled within shortest period, turning the city into a mess. And the only investments done were shopping malls and volleyball stadiums, while the old center was left to fall apart and hospitals haven’t changed since Franz Joseph (who died in 1916). The country is suffering financial crime and corruption. Many wild things have happened on Croatia. Here the latest. Couple of years ago, one of Croatian “moguls” decided to ruin Cvjetni Trg (one of most important squares in the city), tear down old (and actually protected) houses and build a shopping mall incl. residential area (for other moguls, or their children, I’d guess) and a public garage. Everyone who knows old European cities knows that there is no space for cars so the strategy has been to remove cars outside of city centers – Zagrebian (corrupt) politicians allowed this huge garage in the center, turning pedestrian zones (while other European cities fight for more pedestrian areas) into driveways and clogging the already clogged area. Already angry citizens got even angrier and for years, hundreds of thousands of Zagrebians went out on the streets to protest and tried everything to stop this project from happening. It was yet another proof of what an illusion democracy can be. Money decides.
While intellectuals (in sandals and sweaters) are protesting and getting arrested (why are they all men?), girls with carefully straightened hair and blasé looks patiently wait at H&M. And check out the guys who actually built the whole place but are complete outsiders to what’s going on. What a nice illustration of the world we live in...
We have a new scandal in Croatia and this one is a fantastic illustration of how masses are being brainwashed into idiots (and they even pay for it) and how our society is facing a complete crash of its values. Each year, a book fair in Pula gives out an award called “Kiklop” for the most sold and read book. This year, the price goes to a lady called, yes: Nives Celzijus. As the name implies, Nives is a starlet with huge implants. Something like Croatian Carmen Electra. She wrote an autobiography about sex&drugs&rock’n’roll in Croatian jet-set, the book sells for only €4 – and it sold in 47,000 copies (!!!!!!). When you consider that Croatia has 4 million inhabitants, this is a mega-mega-mega-bestseller (something like selling 3,5 mio. Books in USA). Now the Croatian Authors’ Association is protesting, the chairman of the award has resigned, some writers returned their “Kiklop”s, and as it seems that it was decided to cancel the award for this year. There are huge discussions, although the situation is clear – it is all about the criteria. You simply have to decide if you will allow porns to compete for awards with art movies….. Lesson learned: shit sells. In millions.
P.S. The lady came to get her award in black leather and a whip in her hand. And 2 boys in leather strings.
The book tour was a fantastic but tiring experience. A friend, a great American writer who just finished his tour told me “I think I'd rather have eye surgery on a helicopter than do another book tour.” No, it’s not that bad - we are just a bit exhausted when it’s over. It takes a lot of energy to sit in front of the audience, always with a new moderator who is a very clever person and discuss things like emancipation, crisis of a system, confusion of a generation and your private experiences. Then come the interviews….. But it is extremely rewarding meeting people who are interested in what you do, write and think. I had some great questions from the audience. So here a big THANK YOU to everybody who came and supported me on this great adventure.
And here a task to my readers and friends:
In Sibenik, I was interviewed for the national television by a young and very charming reporter. He obviously contemplated about his questions because he started the interview with a great one: “So, what happens when Barbie finds the vibrator?”
I have to admit I was so confused by the question that I asked them to stop shooting and give me a moment to think. Not very cool, isn’t it?
I still don’t have the answer….
This is why I was thinking: The readers of this blog seem to be clever, witty and fun people, so why not ask you guys to help find a good answer?
So, tell me:
What happens when Barbie finds the vibrator?
Pula: Zdenka Viskovic, a writer who understands my book better than I do. And Vlado Mandic, a journalist from Glas Istre.
Pula: Zdenka Viskovic, a writer who understands my book better than I do. And Vlado Mandic, a journalist from Glas Istre.
Zagreb: Zdravko Zima, a literary critic and a fantastic mind. And Sandra Mlakar, my ediotr.
There is an old, grey, shabby house in my street in Zagreb. Like most houses in Zagreb, this one is from the golden era of socialism. It hasn't been renovatet or repaired since it was built in late 50's. Somewhere on the 2nd or 3rd floor, there is an appartment with old wooden shades covering half of a window. The rest of the window is covered by synthetic, lacy curtains long turned yellow. Every day in the afternoon, a man is standing behind those shades and curtains and commenting on the newest political and social developments in Croatia. His voice is strong and firm and he sounds like a professional speaker.
Every day, he is giving the world his excellent, true and very critical analysis. If this was a movie, people would gather under his window and listen and discuss and start a change. But this is not a movie, and everybody just passes by thinking "Oh God, again that old lunatic!" and stays busy with their own life.
So all those thoughts - and guts to share them - will stay burried behind a dusty, sythetic curtain forever.
My book tour started in Pula, the ancient Roman city on the north of the Croatian coast. The presentation was fantastic - and completely different from my presentation in Zagreb in May, as the book just came out. In Zagreb, I was asked only about the parties, the men and shopping. In Pula, my book was presented by Ms Zdenka Viskovic-Vukic, a poet and president of Pula Film Festival. Zdenka understood what the book really is about and for one hour, we talked about the pain of growing up under the pressure of today's deformed society, about trying to find real values in this mass of artificial values, about the process of putting it all out and shedding your skin - in order to find the true YOU. The audience was fantastic. I hope that the rest will run just as good. Thank you, Zdenka. And thank you, Pula.
I just met an old (gay) gentleman from the island who taught me a valuable lesson about (incredible) verbal efficiency. He stopped me in the middle of the street to tell me this:
“Your mother used to be so incredibly beautiful when she was young! And you look so much like your dad.”
Basically, in one short sentence he managed to:
- Offend my mother and say that she USED to be beautiful and now she is just an old rag
- Offend my dad and say that while mom at least WAS beautiful, he is ….. ugly
- Offend me and tell me that I am unfortunately as ugly as my dad.
The worst thing is that I believe he actually wanted to say something charming.
P.S. I am not fishing for compliments! Just found this.... actually charming.
Here is a story for all ChiChi fans.
ChiChi has many fans on this island, and now that he starred in both my book and my blog, he became a superstar. Maybe soon he will need his own website.
Yesterday, mama and I were forced to leave our favourite beach because a girl-dog in heat passed by and he want totally crazy.
Today, ChiChi and I saw mama off as she is leaving to
“Yeah, and someone who masturbates next to me”
“Hahaha, it is like having a husband!” We just couldn’t stop laughing.
Sorry boys, but it WAS funny.
My mom has this little gorgeous Pekinese called ChiChi. Because of his incredible Character, ChiChi also starred in my first book. He is very different from a typical Pekinese – he is lively, communicative, happy. I call him Denise the Menace and now, he is almost 4 years old. Summers on the island with ChiChi were always adventurous – the moment we turned around, he disappeared. His favourite pastimes were boarding the ferry (he adores boats), swimming or chasing cats. So mom and I would spend summers bicycling around the island, screaming his name. But this summer something happened. Either ChiChi grew older or his ass got kicked by a dog or a dog-hater. Whatever it is, ChiChi suddenly became a “good dog”: he is always next to us, he follows us, he listens to orders, he doesn’t want to play for hours. He is even not jumping on us as he used to. Mom and I are totally delighted with this new dog and every now and then, we conclude in astonishment “God, ChiChi is so good this year!” hug him and tell him how good he is. Or we would tell our friends and ChiChi’s admirers (yes, he has some) how he changed into a “good dog”.
But few days ago, I realised this is pathetic. I told my mom that it is sad that the dog lost the energy either because he grew older or got scared because someone kicked his ass and we became – delighted. It reminded me of my experience in the corporate world: I started out fearless, independent, curious and two years later, all the shit I went through, from mobbing to sexual harassment made me calmer, more cautious, reserved. More – depressed. And suddenly, the company LOVED me.
I miss the old ChiChi. I miss the days he was disappearing, was wild, happy and energetic. But I am afraid he will never be the same. He is a “good dog” now.
And me, I am out of the corporate world for one year now and am only slowly starting to get the “good Ana” out of myself. And I wonder if I will ever be the same.
OK, by now this seriously started feeling like a … wedding (!!!???). And it is scary. Yes, and the groom is missing. Ohmygod - maybe I'm getting marrying myself!
First, it was the invitations. Then, organising the weekend of great food and parties for my friends who are coming to my hometown for that special occasion. Then I was informed that there will be TV crews and someone filming the event so that I can have it on a DVD. So I got a bit nervous and called my “stylist” (yes, Ines - you) begging her to help me find the perfect dress. Now that this gorgeous dress is hanging in my living room, my gay neighbours had to decide on the perfect pair of shoes and the perfect shade of nail polish. And yesterday, I even told my dad to wear something nice…. Aaaarrghh!
Now I should be thinking about what to say. But right now, all I can say is this: I don't understand people who have big weddings on their free will. Maybe one day, someone will have to remind me that I said this…. Please.
My mother and I stopped in front of a window of an antiques shop. There was an elegant art deco mirror hanging in the window. „Oh, we are so beautiful!“, my mum loudly said, her voice full of delight. I looked up. The ebony frame framed two identical figures: same size, same black hair, same black coats. Same alabaster skin, same smile, same spark in black eyes. For a moment, it confused me. But then it filled me with joy. Next to us a lady was standing. She was my mom’s age, red haired, bigger than us, wearing a grey coat. As she heard what my mum said, she turned and looked at us smiling at our twins in the mirror. She smiled “I didn’t even dare to look at myself“ she said. I could hear a note of envy in her voice. My mum turned towards her beaming with joy „Oh, I normally don’t like looking at myself either, but with my daughter next to me, it is something totally different.“ That second, it became clear to me what a huge influence the person on our side has on our attitude toward ourselves. And for a moment, I felt that I gave my mother a very special gift: a touch of eternity.