Today I would like to tell you about my experiences inSerbia. I was invited to the International Festival MitOst, which took place in Novi Sad, the second largest city of Serbia.
I have always been very curious about the Balkans due to their history, passion, incredible culture and language mix. It was my first time in Serbia. After my project got viral, some people contacted me and I got to know some activists and artists based there. One of them was Dusan Maljkovic and I was very happy to meet him.
He’s the first person I’ve ever met, who read all books by Sigmund Freud. Dusan works in an art collective called 3A3OP/ZAZOR and also at the Faculty of Philosophy in the University of Belgrade. He picked up my colleague and me from the airport and drove us to the city.
My plan was to discover all cruising areas of Belgrade in the first day. In the cab, we heard many stories about the architecture, the culture, art and the history of the Serbian capital.
I was impressed by the story regarding LONELY HOTEL. There is a hotel called OSAMA, which means loneliness in Serbian. And it’s also the name of Osama bin Laden. Some artists even warned the American embassy of this.
Anyways… The first cruising place I went to was a public park close to the Museum of Contemporary Art. The museum has been shut down 12 years ago, cause the local government claims not to have enough money to invest in art. Also next to the park and the museum, there is a huge shopping mall.
I was incredibly touched by those three pieces of loneliness, right next to each other. Three non-places of sexuality, identity and art. NON PLACE, NON BODY, NON ART.
It is really unbelievable how art is so tightly connected to sexuality. I’m not sure they’re aware of it, but the visitors of this cruising area were basically creating a huge performance, while having sex almost at the entrance of the museum.
Their sexualities, desires, stories and bodies are meeting each other and creating a huge living art sculpture of love. But this love is different. It is invisible, unknown and only really exists deep inside every human being.
I felt very special and touched, while cruising there. My body somehow became part of that place. On that moment, life melted into art and my sexual will was determined by this context.
Also next to this park there is a place for escort boys. At the first moment I didn’t realize those cute boys were escorts and tried to flirt with them. What surprised me as well was the fact that they were very young, something around 15 and 16 years old. Two of them were Romani guys that used to live in Germany and could speak perfect German, which was another surprise for me.
My friend supposed they might be registered in Germany in order to get social benefits from the government, but lived somewhere else.
On my last day in Serbia I met another escort and also Romani guy, who was 22 years old and could speak German without a single accent. He asked me for five euros as we were jerking off together in a toilet cabin.
Back to the two kids, I felt a bit sad about them as I think they might be double discriminated, taking in consideration the fact they’re both escorts and Romani. That also means no access or participation in society, social life and most of the times intolerance coming from the majority of the population.
You can see the guys on the following picture. They gave me an interview for the documentary on my performance, but I’m not sure we will be able to use it since they’re still minors.
After visiting the park, we went to a public toilet in the city center. The downtown of Belgrade looks like a mix of Berlin, Istanbul and Prague. It’s a mix of different styles, cultures and energies – from the passionate and emotional Eastern to the rational and smart Western.
The toilet was in the underground of the main street, where hundred thousands of people are walking through. I couldn’t believe it.
We went downstairs, entered a big white space and on my right and left there were urinals in the first section. Some guys were standing there, watching each other’s cocks. I walked a bit further and found two rows of cabins. I got inside the first on my left and kept the door a bit open in order to watch the others. The show started right away.
Five guys were watching each other and masturbating at the same time. Another guy enters the cabin and starts having fun.
If I’m not mistaken, there were a lot of straight people, who went there only for really using the toilet, but even they didn’t really care what was going on.
I never saw this kind of open atmosphere in a public toilet. Berlin sucks when it comes to that, since all public toilets were extinguished after Gay Romeo and Grindr came up.
Turns out I was wrong. After 40 minutes watching them and masturbating, I heard an explosion at the entrance. Someone had thrown firecrackers on my two friends. They were shocked and a bit scared, so they ran into my cabin to get me out of there as soon as possible.
We had to hurry anyways, since we were supposed to have diner with a friend of Dusan’s, who is the first Serbian writer who published a gay book. In the book, he talks about his experiences and how does it feel to be gay in Serbia.
We chatted, laughed and had a lot of fun the whole night. Later in the night a TV reporter and two other members of Dusan’s art collective joined us. After the long day, I was feeling very tired but still managed to have a nice conversation about Serbian art’s situation and activism with them.
One of the themes was the fact that many artists didn’t support the last Gay Pride in Belgrade. They claim that it became too commercial and that the organizers use the event for private ambitions and showing off instead of fighting for gay and civil rights.
Nevertheless it was a historical happening in the Serbian LGBT society, since the Gay Pride didn’t happen for four years in a row due to security reasons. There are a lot of anti gay movements among radical nationalists and religious people. The last parade happened in 2010 and more than 200 people got injured.
This year policemen escorted the parade. According to local newspapers, more than 5 thousand policemen showed up to protect the activists. It was a huge success. Still, nationalists found a different way to hit them. They started attacking journalists or anyone who was reporting or speaking about the pride in public. While giving an interview for one popular online magazine on the next day, the interviewer told me that some of her colleagues got attacked, one press house burned and many others beaten. Also I was very impressed and scared by the fact that you could see graffiti works all over the city with harsh words on homosexuals. But other activists took over and turned those graffiti works into love signs.
It’s very interesting the fact that people act and communicate political thoughts through street art.
On our second day, we went to Novi Sad for the MitOst Festival. The festival is big and very well organized. Its main focus is culture, language and political exchange in Eastern Europe.
Actually I have been a member of this organization since 2009. My first performance ever took place at one of their festivals in Czech Republic. I’m very grateful for their support and courage.
For Serbia, I prepared a workshop titled BIOGRAPHY AS A TOOL for artistic practices and a street action called BODY WALK, where participants could explore their body in the city by using sound and text.
In Novi Sadi I had the honor to meet Daniel, a gay activist and amateur porn actor. Here you can check some of his stuff on xhamster:
Together we went to the local cruising park. Meanwhile he and his friends were telling me stories about activism and local issues. I also got to meet Aisedora, a lesbian who’s vegan. She had her first kiss in the park we were heading to. She and Daniel are together the head of a gay organization that organizes public events and also does educational works.
I was very interested by Daniel’s story. He was the first gay in Serbia, who won a process in the court against Nazis. He was attacked and beaten up by several people and somehow managed to find courage to speak up and make the issue public. His case is an exception, cause usually it’s very rare that gays activists win fights against prejudice and crime in Eastern Europe. Daniel took part in my project and our date will appear in the documentary.
I had two other dates in Belgrade. The day before I left I met a beautiful and very interesting guy in the park. We had quick fun but then a very long one hour conversation about Serbian history, genocide by Croats against Serbs in the World War Two, Yugoslavia, the conflict wit Kosovo and also about his gay life in the closet and his love. I learned so much about him in such a short period of time that I thought I was reading a book.
On my last day, I went to a gay club, where there was a dark room. No idea what I should expect. I mean, sex is always sex. But culture sometimes plays its role.
Around midnight, the club was still empty. No single human being inside. Some friends of mine had already left, so around 1am I found myself alone in the club surrounded by handsome Serbian guys. There were very few foreigners there.
The evening was almost over so I tried everything possible. I was kissing random people, one after another, starring into their beautiful eyes.
The dark room was very tiny and people were really close to each other. I pressed a guy against the wall and another guy came from behing and started touching me. It was really warm and I couldn’t stand the smoke inside anymore. So around 4am I left the club and started walking through the empty streets. I got a bit lost on my way back home, but found myself in a beautiful square with bright lights and old houses.
Suddenly I started hearing voices. Someone was singing so I went further. A group of people was singing Serbian folk songs. But I couldn’t see anyone. I tried to find them everywhere, checked the buildings and balconies, but didn’t succeed. So I sat on a small staircase and listened to the music, which was spreading as water all over the square.
This was a very emotional moment for me. I started crying as a happy baby but my happiness suddenly turned into a sweet sadness. I was completely alone but knew that there were people there. I just couldn’t see or touch them. My loneliness was singing along, it seemed like a sound installation all around me. I never experienced something like that before. They made me happy but killed me at the same time, taking with them my weak soul. On that moment I knew I exist and I knew I love, love so much as never before.
Unfortunately someone probably called the police and the live music concert was suddenly over. I woke up from my trance and walked home..