Visitors on the New Permanent Exhibition ‘Spirit of Place – A Century of the District’

This year’s Kaleidoscope of Culture managed to surpass all five previous editions, as the organizers themselves claim. Sixth in a row, it stood out from several aspects, especially from some new concepts, which we had the opportunity to see for the first time.

For the first time, the grand opening ceremony was at Korzo, a magnificent event that the crowd loves. Then, the entire Kaleidoscope programme was implemented in the Network of cultural stations and the District, as the most important spatial legacies of the European Capital of Culture.

One of today’s most famous architects, Alejandro Aravena, who attracted the attention of more than 2,000 people, then the Grammy winner, jazzer Jason Miles, arrived for the first time in Serbia. Furthermore, some new artistic concepts, have not been seen in Serbia before, and maybe even wider.

First among them is the performance ‘Unbreakable Ties’, directed by Maja Grgić, who led the audience along the trace of the most significant events in the last hundred years, through the entire area of ​​the District, which is still a construction site. Then, the largest interactive installation in Serbia and the first thermal-interactive installation in the world ‘Heart’, the largest exhibition of the most famous Serbian visual artists ‘On the Paths of Serbian Art (1923 – 2023) – From Konjović to Marina Abramović’ by the Bel Art Gallery, and the first exhibition about an industrial heritage ‘Spirit of Place – A Century of the District.’

Thus, this year’s Kaleidoscope of Culture after the European Capital of Culture title year brought numerous novelties that we had the opportunity to see and experience, and perhaps left behind some new artistic practices or encouraged some young artists. It also left a permanent exhibition as a legacy in the District.

It is the ‘Spirit of Place – A Century of the District’ exhibition.

– Unforgettable, exciting. Thank you to everyone who contributed in any way to make everything work like this – is one of the comments of visitors to the exhibition.

The multimedia nature of the exhibition is perhaps the key to why it attracted so much attention. Namely, the exhibition, although it talks about the history of the place, about a hundred turbulent years, is not only presented through historical facts, but the author Monika Bilbija Ponjavić and the entire team of people who worked on it, presented the key moments in a way never seen before.

– I was fascinated by the emotional power of the ‘Spirit of Place’ exhibition. In another room there are photographs, some of which are interactive. The story of a mother who talks about the lost lives of her children made me cry – said Nevena from Novi Sad.

The team that worked on the exhibition used different elements and methods of stage design, in order to involve the audience in discovering different segments of the exhibition for themselves, from the aforementioned listening to audio material, which was collected from the period of witnessing the horrific events of the Novi Sad raid, and even to a large hammer, which symbolizes the former period of the most important industrial zone in Novi Sad, and which the audience, by hitting a concrete pillar, discovers on the screens installed on the wall.

– My sons had a lot of fun learning about history through interactive hammers. I think this is the right way to present an exhibition – said Jelena, after visiting the District.

For most visitors, the exhibition revealed a long untold story. The area where today’s District is located and its history was little or almost never known to the general public.

– The exhibition is really great, it covers a long period of history of the place, which unfortunately we do not know much about. It was even interesting for my kids, especially the part with the chains and the hammer. For every recommendation – says Dragan, one of the visitors to the exhibition.

Divided into six phases, from the establishment of the factory, through World War II and NATO bombing, to the European Capital of Culture, the exhibition, through its organization, as well as through the construction of the space, tries, at times quite literally, to depict turbulence, progress, changes, tragic fates, chaos, hope and the cacophony of a time.

The entire area of ​​a part of the building, which, as it used to be called Fabrika, on Despota Stefana Boulevard, was transformed into a chronology of a space, a chronology of turbulent history and key events that affected the whole of Novi Sad and its formation.

– I had no idea what even happened here before the 2000s, and I live in Liman. Now we have a story, a history of Chinatown, and I think that is quite important – said Zora from Novi Sad. In addition to the residents of the city, the permanent exhibition delighted tourists as well.

– We really liked the exhibition, we took our friends from abroad too and they liked it. The exhibition is bilingual, which is great, so that even foreigners can hear and see something about us – said Mirjana.

The District tour was attended by families together, groups of friends, grandparents with grandchildren, and everyone liked what they saw. They rated the exhibition as the pride of Novi Sad.

– The ‘Spirit of Place’ exhibition is, in my opinion, something that should have happened a long time ago. For many years, this District was neglected, and I am glad that it has ‘revived’ in the last few years, especially since I live in the neighbourhood and my children now have a beautifully decorated area that offers a handful of different cultural programmes. Little was known about the history of the site itself, and the exhibition educates all visitors about the rich heritage. I must also praise the multimedia nature of the exhibition itself, we visited it as a family and it was very interesting for everyone – said Boris from Novi Sad.

All this speaks in favour of the fact that this kind of artistic breakthrough was needed not only in Novi Sad, but beyond, as evidenced by the following impression of the visitor.

– Once again, the Kaleidoscope of Culture attracted enormous attention and attendance, the quality of everything presented, so that the tradition, which is the virtue of the great, continues. Congratulations, see you next year – said Branislav, and with his words, it seems that this year’s Kaleidoscope of Culture has fulfilled, and perhaps even exceeded, the expectations of the audience, but also set itself a big task for the next one.

Opening hours of the exhibition

The exhibition ‘Spirit of Place – A Century of the District’ is open every day (except Monday and Tuesday) from 4 p.m. to 8 pm.

Photos: Vladimir Veličković

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