The Cultural Festival itself was first started in the 70s, to nurture the memory and works of Mak Dizdar, one of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s most renowned poets. The festival regularly hosts young poets from around the region, holds poetry readings and an annual award ceremony, but also features promotion of other arts such as music, audio and visual exhibitions, and more. This year it gathered several groups of participants from the region: musicians, poets, photographers and painters – but also historians, journalists, civic and political activists alike.
An essential part of the Festival’s program is the Stolac Summer University, which brings about a more academic approach to arts and features lectures from prominent individuals from various fields of art. This year the role of the Summer University had a different outlook. With the topic being “Resistance!”, the lectures served as a bridge between literature, journalism, historiography on one side and activism and political engagement on the other side. The lectures were delivered by prominent thinkers Štefica Galić, Dragan Markovina and Tomislav Brlek and focused on status and meaning of left-oriented politics in the region, their experiences in political engagement and how art can be a medium of resistance towards an oppressive political structure.
The idea of resistance and activism was further discussed with the activists and active members of our Democratic Left platform. After a hiatus in the activities of the initiative, we are immensely grateful to see such high spirits to continue actively engaging on pressing issues civil society faces in the countries of Southeast Europe and to also welcome new and refreshing ideas that will invigorate future activities.
These two and a half days of active discussions and engaging lectures have sprouted new venues for participation and collaboration between activists that face much the same issues throughout the region. The next event in the Democratic Left series is scheduled to take place in mid-September in Tetovo (North Macedonia).
Photography credits: Vanja Fifa, 2019.