Great Steps (working title)
Through examining a construction project, Great Steps captures everyday life in Belgrade. Serbia’s former prime minister and current president chose an industrial and impoverished neighbourhood in Belgrade as his landmark development project. Public perception of the development is symbolic of greater discourses for the current regime in Serbia – glorified by some for its changing landscapes, despised by others for its corruption and lack of transparency.
Gradually, the present authoritarian regime begins to resemble a turbulent and repressive past for Serbia in the 1990s. During the break-up of Yugoslavia, people believed promises from the establishment until there was no escape from the truth – the country already devastated, its reputation fallen. Today, the same leaders use communist rhetoric from ex-Yugoslavia and the 1990s regime to win the support of Serbians, and to ultimately gain and remain in power.
Empty promises of a better future are given. Plans for grandiose construction projects are made. Serbia is glorified. Nationalist pride is called upon. And freedom of speech is suppressed. Now, Serbian society sits in purgatory; stuck in limbo as the people fight for the same rights they protested for over 25 years ago. Yet in parallel with the construction project, there are no changes, only broken promises.
I struggled to understand how a leader, who was prominent during Serbia’s dark period of history in the 1990s, could be re-elected as president by the same people he fed lies to. It was in this place of frustration that Great Steps was born. In 2015, I endeavoured to the construction project on a search to understand the people living within this specific space and time for Belgrade. Examining a new development within an old regime, Great Steps seeks to understand how Serbians came to choose this path.