Lost Highway Expedition (Europe Lost and Found). Lost Highway is the fictional name for the old road made in the sixties through the massive voluntary campaign of all nationalities in ex-Yugoslavia in order to connect the major cities of its republics. Supposed to symbolize the 'unity in diversity' throughout Yugoslavia, the road used to be called the 'Highway of Brotherhood and Unity'. After the breaking of Yugoslavia, the road lost its significance, bearing no more an ethnic liaison. Having this in mind, the initiators of the Lost Highway Expedition project (LHE) wanted to create a content that can be associated with the highway. Thus LHE aimed at constructing and experiencing an experimental network-based civic society that navigates the new and dynamic territorialities of the Western Balkans and explores new modes of linking its different entities.
Lost Highway Expedition was the first event of Europe Lost and Found (ELF), a multi-annual and three-phased project, proposing the following themes: Balkanization (2006-2007), Europeanization (2007-2008), Map the Future (2008-2009). Each project phase is intended to build the base for the next one, thus raising new sets of questions and determining new research directions. It aims at reflecting on contemporary Europe, which it understands as a cycle of continuously reshaping social, political, economic and urban conditions and communication processes. Each phase is also planned to realise an expedition, an exhibition and a publication.
LHE was initiated by School of Missing Studies and Centrala Foundation for Future Cities. Project group: Azra Aksamija, Ana Dzokic, Katherine Carl, Ivan Kucina, Marc Neelen, Kyong Park, Marjetica Potrc & Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss.
Almost 300 people from the region and beyond took part in the expedition, organised themselves and joined the route at one of the 9 points where various cultural organisations were invited to organise activities and host the participants: Skuc Gallery in Ljubljana, Slovenia; Galerija Nova in Zagreb, Croatia; the Rex cultural centre in Belgrade; Press to Exit in Skopje, Macedonia; and Kuda.org, in Novi Sad, Serbia.
This experimental temporary society followed the road from Ljubljana to Zagreb, Novi Sad, Belgrade, Skopje, Prishtina, Tirana, Podgorica and Sarajevo. Artists, cultural operators, architects joined the route, met other participants and took part in activities organised by the host cultural institutions. Individual or group projects inspired by the LHE theme were initiated in this frame, the project thus materializing its intention to contribute to the setup of an infrastructure that unites different perspectives and entities beyond state borders.
Centrala Foundation is currently working on the production of an 'ELF Source Book'. The need for this book occurred during LHE and the content will be based on spontaneous discussions that took place in Tirana, Podgorica and Sarajevo. The publication will represent a result of the exploration of cultural and urban landscape in the region that gives a future-oriented interpretation of the Western Balkans within Europe.
Following the various exhibitions in the cities along the highway, on 26th October 2006, the LHE organisers lead a symposion based on the expedition at Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Center for Advanced Visual Studies where an archive of photos, videos and other documentation of the Expedition was presented. Participants were invited to contribute with their own documentation collected during the expedition. An interview with Azra Aksamija, an architecture graduate student at MIT and participant in Lost Highway Expedition, can be read here.
More information about the expedition, the participants and future projects within ELF frame can be found at www.europelostandfound.net.
Presentation compiled by Policies for Culture based on participants' articles and posts on the LHE website.
Selection of photos by Policies for Culture from the LHE participants' image galleries.