From September 2020 to June 2022, the “ECHO II: Traditions in Transition” project, inspired and mainly coordinated by InterAlia in collaboration with Balkans Beyond Borders, Open Space Foundation, Post Scriptum, ProProgressione, and Sfera International, welcomed artists from North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Greece, and Hungary to participate in Art Residencies that focus on the local traditions of certain places: Prespa Lake (North Macedonia), Sofia (Bulgaria), Spetses island (Greece), Győr (Hungary), Smolyan (Bulgaria). The objective of ECHO II was the propagation of cultural heritage throughout Europe, which was accomplished through the artworks that were created during these Art Residencies as they focused on local traditions. In fact, the project aimed and managed to show that cultural customs are dynamic in the sense that they’re not only part of the past, but also always evolving, influenced by local communities as we walk years into the future. With that in mind, ECHO II provides artists with the opportunity to showcase local traditions and further their existence, and residents with the opportunity to rediscover their roots in the context of a culturally European backdrop.
During the Prespa Art Residency, which took place in May 2021, the participants, Yiannis Selimiotis, Nikolay Marinov, Panni Marosi, Djoshkun Alievski, stayed in the area and visited many places to draw inspiration from them. From cultural sights to Nature, they were encouraged to familiarize themselves with the locals and understand their way of life and worldview. Besides the Prespa Art Residency, the Sofia Art Residency also took place in May 2021 with the following participants: Remzije Lloga, Ennios Eros Giogos, Marcella Papp and Yordan Mihalev. Sofia is not only the capital of Bulgaria, but also its cultural center with an immense historical value from Prehistory to Antiquity and the Middle Ages, and from Renaissance to Modernity and New Age. That said, the artists found themselves in a rich environment of inspiration where they created their projects. Next up was the Spetses Art Residency that took place in June 2021 under the supervision of InterAlia. The selected participants were: Balázs Kontur, Martina Spasovska, Katerina Karatzaferi and Deyana Stareva, who stayed in Spetses for a month and worked in the Three Spetsiot Martyrs Church in Aghios Nikolaos (Saint Nicholas) – a location that relates to the tradition the residency focused on. Moving on from a Greek island, the next residency, Győr Art Residency, focuses on an industrial city. The participants accepted to the program were: Kinga Enzsöly, Nanda Mentesheva, Konstantinos Koronaios, and Boglár Peruzzi. The artists worked and subsequently exhibited their projects in Torula Art Place, a new community and cultural space in Győr that aims at supporting artists at the early stages of their careers. Finally, Smolyan Art Residency closes this cycle of programs. The participants that were accepted were the following: Burim Ajdini, Galina Abadjimarinova, Maita Chatziioannidou, and Beáta Méry. As the town is located in the Rhodope mountain, it’s no surprise that many of the projects created were influenced by this naturally beautiful and historically rich place.
After all the residencies were completed, Balkans Beyond Borders, the non-profit organization that took over the project’s networking and promotion needs, organized the Gala of Curiosities that took place from October 29th to October 30th 2021 at the Gallery of Faculty of Arts, University of Pristina as part of the 12th Balkans Beyond Borders Film Festival 2021. The Gala of Curiosities included an art exhibition that displayed 20 digitized reproductions of the artworks created during the aforementioned Art Residencies, and a round table throughout which the artists were invited to show their art and shed some light on their experiences and what led them to the creation of these projects. The event was essentially about forming networks and bonds between talents from the Balkans and other professionals from the creative and cultural sectors of the city of Pristina and the Balkan region, which was a successful end to the “ECHO II: Traditions in Transition” program’s goal and the Gala of Curiosities in specific, to function as an offsite platform of networking between various stakeholders, artists and cultural operators who learned about the methodology, outcome and outputs of ECHO II.
The “ECHO II: Traditions in Transition” program was co-funded by Creative Europe programme.