We met Mira and Olja at the Mikser House. Both young Serbian women are architects from Belgrade, graduated last summer. Mira is part of the “Goethe Guerillas”, an initiative by the Goethe Institute in Belgrade. She began almost three years ago with the Open Library Project – the first of its kind in Belgrade. The project was to transform a public place in the city center, offering an open library. Everybody can take a book and brings it back. The concept of the open library is spreading all around Europe in the last years. Being involved in the design process, Mira witnessed every kind of reaction of the population, the good as well as the bad: “Some people were really touched and excited by such an open project, but there were others, too. People are very sceptical – they thought it wouldn’t last, that books would be stolen or damaged. And indeed, after a month or so, someone sprayed Graffiti on it. As a designer, I was sad at first. But then we thought, let’s play along with this and invite a street artist. During a performance, he did a new Graffiti on top of the other.” The new visual identity of the open library was taken as a positive opportunity of transformation.
“This is why I believe in change.” (Mirjana Utvic)
Books disappeared but the Goethe Guerrilla kept going. What had begun as a two-months-project stayed two years – right in the heart of the city center. And it is still developping: The goal is to install several smaller libraries to be spread all over Serbia. This september, a workshop will offer an opportunity to the participants to make new small mobile libraries that will be spreaded along the neglected area of Savamala.
Mira and Vera would like to be proud of their city and they understand it is complicated. A belief is necessay to accomplish what they call : to re-create a feeling of the common good. They are today both engage into the projet the School of the Urban Practises, an urban renovation movement of Savamala (when the school learns from the city). For them, urban transformation is based on exchange and collaboration with citizens.