Ooof. Well its all over and Sara, Helena, Nikola, Oleg and Josip did me proud. On top of managing to deal with an extremely hard brief (inventing a currency for instance) and not being allowed to use a slideshow for their final presenation, they really did it. The final presentation was great, a couple of nervous stumbled, but they really engaged everyone with a newscast, signage, a survival manual and great thinking holding it all together. Links to follow soon.
Day 6 -7 Everyone was really hammering it down and getting down to work. They started getting down to building the mobile and the stationary joke exchange centre and I was really pleased to see that the students started working on a website to trade jokes, thus completing the system in an unexpected and really nice way. This was especially good in that the site will then hopefully sort of take the project forward.
The ethnographic work was really new for everyone and I think they dealt with it extremely well in the end, even with only one of the students being a Slovenian speaker, but they managed to find nice ways around it, playing up their differences in nice ways and using the fact they were all from different and neighbouring countries to an advantage, especially with the political bent of the second project.
The second project exchanging signatures for territory also took on a great twist with linking up handing over the signatures to the parliament in Zagreb, Croatia. I'm really excited to see the completed work today, and will post all the videos and reportage as well as a summary of whats been going down here.
Day 3 – Place #1 Place #1 was where things were supposed to be happening after establishing Home for the groups. Place #1 is somewhere the groups could walk to and they were to meet someone there and initiate some sort of exchange. The groups went out into Maribor and learned quite quickly that guerilla ethnography isn't as easy as it sounds. Everyone did seem to enjoy the randomness though of either trying to trade a drawing for playing with puppets for 5 minutes or trading information or even photos. They quickly ran into problems, everything from the weather keeping everyone seemingly indoors to not very cooperative Russians. Constant brief revisions and constant self-questioning and looking how to provide direction for themselves conceptually and directionally, seemed to bring the pain a bit.
Day 4 – Place #2...kind of
Through yet more coffee-addled and cigarette drenched conversation and confusion about how to link a place you can walk to and a place you can't walk to through exchanges they soon realised that they can't know what Place #2 is until they sort out what the exchanges with the different people in the different places are. Back to the drawing board, but this time they started finally, things seem to be ratcheting up a notch and came out with two really strong ideas.
What is one thing that everyone likes and trades? Jokes. Dead simple, easily transferable, trade-able and quick, jokes seem like one of the most overlooked currencies around. Couldn't you then have a measurable currency by how funny each joke (unit) is? Could you then maybe start making more complicated trades, 3 mediocre jokes for 1 pretty good joke?
The second concept for the two groups is a littler more complex but quite fascinating actually - signatures. With the recent stalled arbitration and impending referendum on the ongoing Croatian-Slovenian border dispute, and the healthy (some might think volatile) ex-Yugoslav mix of the two groups in the team (2 Croatians, 1 Slovenian, 1 Bosnian, 1 Montenegrin), they started fascinatingly to play with politics. The work in progress with this set of exchanges and places is to give water 'from Piran Bay' (the subject of the border dispute) in exchange for signatures for a petition which would then be sent to the parliaments in Slovenia and Croatia. The really great thing I think about this particular idea is the notion of the signature as being not only legally binding somehow, but something valuable for people. Its something extremely easy to do, and something all of us do constantly, but something that you try to be careful about using, something you guard and something you don't want to get into the wrong hands.
Day 5 - Work in Progress Presentations and Getting Their Hands Dirty
Their hats are made, cameras charged, junk furniture is about and so far so good.