A non-working cafe became a symbol of provincialism here – a café of discord, at the entrance of the emblematic for Varshets baths and casino. Seen by the team of artists from the Centriphery (Central Periphery) project as a symbol of their research work in the years between 2019 – 2022, which remained inaccessible after the categorical NO of the owners to open it (no arguments reached them).

Provincialism, seen by the team as a refusal on all possible levels of communication, dominates this town, which has, at least in words, a desire to welcome guests. All the main doors here look closed. This is the city of mineral water, where public mineral baths have not been operating for years. The old one is falling apart, the new one doesn’t work comfortably because of Covid or opens doors for 2 – 3 months during the summer.

The city’s mineral pool has been sold and closed, the museum is closed, the gallery is closed. Most villas – beauties from the glorious time of the first spa resort in the country are completely abandoned. And the bus station disappears in anticipation of a lost bus, because there practically are no regular lines to and from Varshets.

However, art always finds ways to cross barriers. Despite what kind of – at the level of individual, administration or community. And here is this pavilion – coming to life in projections, posters, T-Shirts and 3D prints travel to Finland, another stop of the Incubator. It passes through France and the Azores before reaching its final destination, the capital of the European Union, Brussels.

The whole experience last year in August and early September 2021, along with the preparations for the 18th edition of Goatmilk, the idea to hold it in Varshets and the cancellation of the whole festival at the last minute, provoked the closeness and provincialism of the region. Pandemia and the changing world provoked us to ask the question – « What have we become? » Reflecting on our experience, however, we wonder if anything has changed in the mentality, mindset and behavior of people here. And not in the last 2 years and thanks to Kovid, but in the last 30 years. Because it seems that only in the Northwest there is always something keeping people here from making their dreams come true. And this thing is traditionally from outside. Because it seems as if we are lagging behind in all indicators not only from the world and our already close Europe, but also from the other regions in our country. Because, we constantly hear and read about hospitably opened small family restaurants, farms and spaces, and here there is no place to try anything local, unique and seasonal. Because, at every step we get the answer NO, although often veiled until the last moment in promises of YES.

The Centriphery project further exposed the theme of provincialism and the feeling of the periphery, a periphery that is within us. It also brought up the question of the true center and our place in relation to that center and that periphery.

Who decides where we stand?

Where on the path of modernity is our Northwest today? Is it possible for a village, a province, a periphery to live in a contemporary way, and what does this mean in practice? Is it enough to have internet and mobile phone? Or is it necessary to have a modern mindset and way of life? Such as access to arts and adequate education, for example? As an understanding nurtured in the family and at school that arts activities develop skills needed like air and water in today’s insanely changing world. Is it enough to take off our traditional costumes on holidays and dance horo? Or next to the horo dance we need the contemporary dance? How can rural life preserve traditional knowledge and at the same time open space for the new, for development, for the modern?

We ask these questions because spinning in a circle is a hamster activity. The feeling that you are in the role of a hamster (and why not, when you started cleaning the river of garbage 18 years ago, and you still have to do it today), is not pleasant at all. And because the world is different, changing, and even if we don’t want to, it won’t leave us unchanged. And because today, 18 years later, it is time to turn to our own center and to the present. In 18 years, a newborn becomes an adult citizen. For 18 years in the village of Gorna Bela Rechka all the goats that were more than people, disappeared. And the local people we started with left one by one. But here are their grandchildren. They are young, not waiting like their grandparents to retire and come back to the village. They are here and they are ready to act.

Village is Contemporary

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