Belgrade and its Friends | Applied Nostalgia

Jim Surkay  - Belgrade

Jim Surkay - Belgrade


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"Applied Nostalgia" is celebrating its 10 Year Anniversary this year. The project consists of double exhibitions of photographs by two European photographers - one from EU candidate Serbia and one from the EU country holding the Council's Presidency each year, since 2007.  We spoke to Ksenija Milenković, the Acting Assistant Minister from the Serbian Ministry of European Integration, about the project.

What does the name Applied Nostalgia mean? Why did you choose it?

The name was chosen by the initiators of the project ten years ago. We thought of the symbolism and belief that all European capitals have one thing in common – they share a unique European spirit. It is therefore possible to find a touch of Belgrade in any other European capital and vice versa. The photographers are tasked with capturing moments, streets, houses which remind them of their home city. Don’t we all become a bit nostalgic once we recognize a touch of home in another city or country? By capturing such moments on camera we also illustrate the connection between cities which are sometimes far away from each other. The first exhibition was held in Portugal in 2007 and nobody would have thought that Belgrade and Lisbon actually have so many similarities. But our photographs are clear evidence that they do.

Jakub Stezycki  - Belgrade

Jakub Stezycki - Belgrade

Nostalgia has become a feeling we take with us as part of our being.

Is Nostalgia something typically European?

No, it is a global phenomenon, especially now that we live in a time when people move across continents in a short timespan and spend less time in their home country. Nostalgia has become a feeling we take with us as part of our being. In today’s Europe it becomes part of everyday life and thereby creates a multi-cultural model of living, which is why we all find traces of home wherever we choose to live.

you want to promote European (cultural) values in Serbia and vice versa. How does this project do that? And why do you want to do that?

Our photographs bring cities closer together and they represent Belgrade in light of its European history, culture and identity. Our goal is to show that Belgrade not only shares the same values as any other European capital, but that it is an integral part of the joint cultural heritage of our continent. Furthermore, we demonstrate that what seemingly different cities, people and cultures, contain a lot of elements that bring them together after all.

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What is the connection between Serbia and Europe/the European Union according to you?

Serbia is geographically in Europe, but it is not about geography at all. Europe is our home and through transition and reform agendas we aim at making our country a better home for all our citizens. We believe that EU integration is the best possible tool to achieve that goal and we therefore continuously pursue the path towards the EU membership.

Jovan Marjanov - Budapest

Jovan Marjanov - Budapest

You are celebrating your 10-year anniversary. Has the project been successful? 

We believe that lasting ten years is success in itself. Having presented almost 20 European capitals and linking them to Belgrade is something we should cherish and definitely proof that we reached our initial goal. 

The fact that so many European cities are proud to stand next to Belgrade in the photographs shows that we are all indeed part of the joint European family.

Jim Sumkay - Belgrade

Jim Sumkay - Belgrade

What is the future of the project? And the Serbian/EU relationship of the future?

We will continue the project with the upcoming EU presidencies. Our next exhibition will be held in Estonia in September presenting Belgrade and Tallinn through the eyes of two nostalgic photographers. At the same time, we continue our negotiations for accession with the EU. And we hope to become a full-fledged member as soon as possible.

What are you most proud of in this project?

The fact that so many European cities are proud to stand next to Belgrade in the photographs. It shows that we are all indeed part of the joint European family.