Salon meets Agora

© Edi Matić 

The coasts of three continents bordering the Mediterranean are marked by tensions, migrations and environmental disasters. SpLitera from Croatia and Fokalizator from Montenegro want to point out crises in the Mediterranean and European perspectives to open up spaces for projects and discussions.

Life in the Mediterranean, beyond the glossy brochures of the tour operators, is today marked by political, ethnic and religious tensions, migrations and unemployment, climatic changes and concerns about the future. The project aims to discuss these issues in the two neighbouring countries Croatia and Montenegro which suffered from armed conflict thirty years ago and between which now runs the EU border. In the magazine Fokalizator texts on several of these subjects will be published, and will be discussed in Croatia as well as Montenegro.

The project refers to the tradition of European literary salons, such as the Berlin or Paris Salons. Reading, music and discussion took place in the salons, this productive atmosphere will be revived. While the Salons flourished in the North and West of Europe, where it was cold in winter and people gathered in closed rooms to talk, read, debate and to make music, the Mediterranean open-air spaces (Pjaca in Split, Agora, Forum) were a typical place where people came together to discuss, to celebrate or to sing. The project aims to continue this tradition and will reflect – together with writers, artists as well as experts from science, business, civil society and the media – on ideas and visions for a peaceful and promising future of the Mediterranean.

The Mediterranean, once the “cradle of European culture”, is today a problematic, almost neuralgic region. Fences are being erected at the interfaces of the three continents. On the southern and eastern coasts there are demographic and climatic problems, wars and poverty, while on the northern coasts there are often mafias, corruption, disorganization, environmental problems and commercial exploitation of resources. The population of the tourist areas is being transformed into waiters and chambermaids of the “resorts”; the former philosophers, artists, inventors, sailors and traders who shaped the concept of Mediterranean culture have died out or migrated northwards. There is little understanding for these problems in Northern Europe – all too beautiful is the dream of Arcadia, deeply rooted in the “Grand Tour” cultural traditions. But the cruise ships, for which cheap labour is hired in the once famous Mediterranean ports, now cross the paths of the rubber boats with refugees. All around them, the sea, on whose shores lie landscapes with a great history, which are now ecologically threatened.
The project wants to invite the European public to reflect on this situation on spot, to reflect together, artistically and intellectually, on the beauty of the Mediterranean, without closing eyes to the problems that prevail in the Mediterranean.