Stories, narratives, and storytelling are central aspects of all cultures. Stories provide people with a sense of history, a sense of community, a sense of generations, a sensitivity to oral language and its importance to heritage. They play an important role in how other nations see us and how we see ourselves. Croatia, Serbia and Romania have experienced a common history marked by conflicts, changing borders, and totalitarian regimes. Those 3 countries have not yet succeeded in creating new narratives that would distance them from the negative stereotypes that determine them especially in the Western European countries. Post conflict identity narratives are very difficult to change. Clearly, we need new stories, stories that highlight human rights discourse and practices in Serbia, Croatia and Romania. In the coming years Rijeka (Croatia), Timișoara (Romania), and Novi Sad (Serbia) will be European Capitals of Culture in 2020 and 2021.This title has been used by many cities (especially those in the transition) to change or reshape their earlier narratives. This project aims to reflect on the connections between urban narratives and city making in an interdisciplinary way. It deals with mapping new resources (urban stories, myths etc.) which will enable Rijeka, Novi Sad and Temisoara joining visions, data and actions to tell new stories. Cities will also explore their common heritage and stories that connect them through history. This approach will provide multiple perspectives and will empower us to read our cities differently, and to rethink our blinkered and biased views. This project contains a research, educational and artistic part. The research part of the project is about exploring urban narratives through community involvement, the educational part will deal with developing new skills and storytelling techniques, in order to provide models of use of these narratives , and the artistic part will deal with creative ways of their transnational promotions.
The project will start with a four-month research period in every country. In each partner city few researchers will explore urban narratives and hidden identities by collecting stories, legends, archive photos and other nonmaterial cultural heritage. Materials will be collected mostly from the inhabitants through community involvement (social networking, interactive online platform, open calls, interviews etc.) but also in museums and archives. All the gathered material will later on be used as an inspiration for identity building through storytelling and creating crafts and art.
During the second phase of the project the professional storytellers from Italy will professionalize 10 local storytellers in every city through a 5 days intensive workshop. After the workshops a joint 7-day art residence programme will be organized in Serbia (in Fruška Gora mountain near Novi Sad) with the aim of further development of narratives and creations of urban love marks and symbols. Artists from France, Italy, Slovenia, and Serbia will work with participants from all countries on possible applications and use of most interesting stories (through illustrations, design, photographs and souvenirs in order to create urban lovemarks and symbols)
The third part of the project will focus on transnational promotion between partner countries. An exhibition, a publication, a documentary and an interactive online platform will be the main products. The exhibition will be a combination of photos and data with audio and video stories. Stories from all 3 cities will be published in 3 publications. 10 best stories of each city will be published in a brochure for tourists. A video documentary will present the process of the realization of the project. The online storytelling platform will be a tool for collecting and promoting stories on an international level. It will remain open and active after the project.