KAJET JOURNAL ISSUE 1, ON COMMUNITIES, FOR FREE IN TIMES OF CRISIS
In these absurd times, we are offering our sold-out issue for free in digital format. For those more generous of you, please also consider donating in order to support our activities.
For those in isolation, we are very happy to announce that our first issue is currently available for download for free, as a scanned PDF. For those more generous of you, please also consider donating any amount you feel comfortable with in order to support our activities and to directly help at the production of our fourth issue—On Periphery, which is out in July.
Find the link here and please check other items from our online shop, as well. Browse through a brief editorial excerpt below. Happy reading & take care of yourself and your community!
Ever since the fall of the Berliner Mauer, a fair amount of Eastern European nations has been formally greeted into the more prosperous & privileged family known as the ‘European Union.’ Despite that their Western counterparts have (slowly, yet steadily) come to acquire—along with a mystifying cloak of noxious preconceptions—some generalised ideas about Eastern Europe, proportionately few specks of knowledge have been disseminated vis-à-vis its art, culture, society, & politics. Moving beyond mere utterances of discontent or embittered reflections, the volume you are currently holding aims to tackle (some of) the inconsistencies that govern over this part of Europe.
Undeterred by its constant position as l’autre in the world order paradigm, Eastern Europe is more than just itinerant gloom, more than a sheer pile of debris hanging around & awaiting reconstruction. Especially in the current turbulent socio-political climate that has led to an upsurge of xenophobia, bigotry, & ultranationalism, the mere act of getting together—of maintaining a state of togetherness regardless of ethnic, racial, cultural, social, class differences—needs to be more critically investigated. The moment of this publication, therefore, points toward historical contingencies, as the atomisation of individuals into egoistic & parsimonious globules of greed, into disengaged, demoralised, socially powerless beads, & into aphasic post-socialist subjects without a clear sense of direction, has led to a palpable undermining of (Eastern European) communities.
Getting together represents, after all, the ultimate habit of humanity, yet, in the midst of increasingly alienating & divisive times, seeking (& finding) one’s sense of belonging has come to seem remotely beyond the bounds of possibility. Focusing on the collective rather than the individual, we believe that vulnerability takes root in isolation, whereas true power lies in togetherness. We believe that alone we are weak and that only together we can become strong. Concentrating the scope of interest onto the past, present, & future of communities inside Eastern Europe, you can find what lies at the heart of this volume: a rejuvenation of the contemporary imaginations of what the notion of community used to mean, currently means, & will continue to mean.
Born in Titan, a (former?) working class neighbourhood of Bucharest, Kajet Journal emanated out of an urgent need to provide a platform for Eastern European narratives. Aiming to become a timeless archival document, Kajet gets its name from the Easternised version of the French cahier, meaning notebook. It embodies the ethos of Kajet: a textual & visual collection of thoughts, an assemblage of neglected narratives, a self-expanding string of reflections & perspectives, a perpetual work in progress of a history that keeps re-writing itself; essentially, a journal of Eastern European encounters. With Kajet bearing the piercing & onerous legacy of samizdat endeavours of this region’s past, the project hopes to become an alternative medium where artists & academics can actively co-exist & thrive (not in the least in imagination & in writing, but hopefully more than that).
Dropping our Call for Entries into the cavernous depths of the world wide web in September, 2016 (& after more than 12 months of utter struggle), the present volume has come to embody an extended array of essays, poems, undusted tales, autobiographical dreads, (semi-)academic works, photo essays, visual collages, ethnographic works, travel diaries, interviews, & personal exposés. Through this textual & visual composite, we move beyond a purely anecdotal understanding of Eastern Europe, as we aim to reverse mentalities, challenge stereotypes, & shift perspectives. Dealing with (re)articulations of the intellectual, artistic, & cultural, Kajet also challenges the current distribution of printed material within Europe—fundamentally, we aim to counterbalance & expand an overly Western-oriented field toward the Eastern end of the spectrum.
Without claiming to provide universal & omniscient answers, our investigation has followed the subsequent set of (rhetorical) questions: What makes the people from this geographical region Eastern European? How have Eastern Europeans managed to survive the unsettled times provoked by war, turmoil, social unrest, & exodus toward the more prosperous West? How do Eastern Europeans tackle the issue of constantly being outsiders? Or, what (& how) do Eastern Europeans love? How do Eastern Europeans respond to their cities crumbling & shrinking? Ultimately, how are Eastern European communities bringing themselves together during these unsettled times?
Departing from the fluid ontologies that compose the Eastern European psychogeography through an introductory exegesis (Mogoș), the volume starts off by addressing the construction of Eastern Europeanness across foreign spaces (Janković & Olărescu). In this convoluted identity puzzle, we transit afoot from Kittsee to Bucharest through the thick frames of a hitchhiker (Rendl), whilst observing the transient nature of Hungarian folk music from villages to the big stage (Nagy-Sándor), as well as the feeling of a shared community at the border between (the former East) Germany & Poland (Gresson). Following the same ontological sphere of Being & Easternness, the chapter culminates with an introspective view through the visual lens of nostalgia & memory (Grozavu).
Eastern European communities resort to various mechanisms of self-defence, to genuine Rituals of Resistance. A chief exemplification of this locus communis is the employment of safeguarding devices: by inscribing one’s skin with black ink—thus, by using one’s body as a weapon of resistance, Aromanian communities fight off predatory threats (Naum). Achieving more of a symbolic sense of resistance, Herta Müller uses her Swabian heritage as a cathartic tool to cure traumatic experiences (Lungeanu), a Zagreb amateur film collective ensures the protection of genuine creativity in the face of extrinsic forces (Stein), whilst the mere rejection of mainstream norms provides a platform for the Lithuanian ŽemAt collective of artists to thrive (Ambrasaite). Through the means of visual ethnography, the debate shifts toward the surviving rituals of a Romanian community living in the north of Serbia (Mušović).
Getting its name from Berlin’s self-descriptive mantra, Poor, but Sexy covers the mixture of dangers & ecstasies, perils & delights that shape this part of Europe. Dealing with outsiders & struggling communities that transgress their proletarian origin (Mogoș), the pains of outsidership felt across the former Eastern Bloc are expressed in an ode to a struggling, yet flourishing territory (Boșcu). Moving beyond the spectres of infatuation, queerness (Lupu), & uncompromising love (Fitzhue)—or all of them combined—, the chapter ends with a conversation about labouring out of love in Eastern Europe (Yeromenko & Krasny).
In Visions of Space, Eastern Europe transcends its geographical reality & elicits new conceptualisations of space: from the subjection of power through architectonics in the case of the New Belgrade district (Jepson) to the visual multilayeredness of urban decay as seen through derelict edifices (Amabili & Calvaresi). Ultimately, it is not just the corrosive terrain held by proto-hipsters in the cinematic space of Andrzej Wajda that receives central attention (Berkowicz), but also the deterioration of labour opportunities for Croatian women (Maleš).
Indulging our fascination with a borderless world, the final chapter incorporates the idea of dismantling walls to the benefit of constructing (& crossing) bridges. The politics of segregation grows pervasive in the case of a nomadic camp of Montenegrin Romas (Lueneburg), as well as, more directly, in the erection of a physical wall that separates communities in Baia-Mare on the basis of ethnic differences (Pușcașiu). The same bureaucratic apparatus breaks the hopes of building actual bridges (Dobrescu), while the neoliberal machine thwarts the prospect of coming to terms with the not-so-distant Ukrainian past (Filyuk).
In its perpetual quest for self-determination, we believe that Eastern Europe shall neither ignore nor reject its very own characteristics: a simmering cauldron, a melting pot, a fusing constellation with its own power struggles, a world led through inner social dynamics vitiated by congenital corruption, as well as stubborn memories that refuse to fade away. Instead, as Eastern Europeans ourselves who have decided to come back home after (varied) experiences in the West, we attempt to dismantle the aura of mythical irrationality that obscures the popular belief, together with the region’s counterfeit sense of inferiority against the powerful, the prosperous, & the advanced. Should that happen, this publication will have achieved its purpose.
Developed, designed, and printed in Bucharest, Romania, Kajet seeks to be more than just a mere signal from the periphery and to move beyond a purely anecdotal understanding of Eastern Europe. Concentrating the scope of interest onto the past, present, and future of communities inside Eastern Europe, you can find what lies at the heart of our first issue: a rejuvenation of the contemporary imaginations of what the notion of community used to mean, currently means, and will continue to mean.
How are Eastern European communities bringing themselves together during the unsettled times of our own contemporaneity? What makes the people from this geographical region truly Eastern European? How have Eastern European communities managed to survive the unsettled times provoked by war, turmoil, social unrest, and exodus toward the more prosperous West? How do Eastern Europeans tackle the issue of constantly being outsiders? Or, what (and how) do Eastern Europeans love? How do Eastern Europeans respond to their cities crumbling and shrinking?
Kajet Journal, issue 1, On Communities
18 essays accompanied by 18 visual projects created by 40 writers and artists and structured into 5 main chapters:
I. Being and Easternness—tackles the existence of an Eastern European paradigmatic identity;
II. Rituals of Resistance—explains how and why Eastern European communities resort to various mechanisms of self-defence;
III. Poor, but Sexy—covers the mixture of sub/countercultural dangers and ecstasies, perils and delights that shape this part of Europe;
IV. Visions of Space—narrates the geo-spatial structures of Eastern European architectonics by eliciting new conceptualisations of space;
V. Erecting Walls vs. Crossing Bridges—indulges our own fascination with a borderless world by incorporating the idea of dismantling walls to the benefit of constructing (and crossing) bridges.
Texts by Bojana Janković & Dana Olărescu, Jürgen Rendl, Zsuzsa Nagy-Sándor, Will Gresson, Petrică Mogoș, Laura Naum, Violeta Lungeanu, Hanna Stein, Eglė Ambrasaitė, Elke Krasny, Natalia Yeromenko, Lia Boșcu, Alina Lupu, Casper Fitzhue, George Jepson, Olivia Berkowicz, Megan Lueneburg, Voica Puşcaşiu, Stelian Dobrescu, Kateryna Filyuk.
Visuals by Alice Stoicescu, Anna Grozavu, Venesa Mušović, Elena Amabili & Alessandro Calvaresi, Nada Maleš, Bogdan Dumitrache, Alina Marinescu, Ana Maria Dudu, Mehmet Sıddık Özmen, Maria Băcilă, Kilian Müller, Antonia Corduneanu, Volodea Biri, Sasha Staicu, Tristan, Cristi Iacob, Stelian Dobrescu.
Contributors from: Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Hungary, New Zealand, Austria, Lithuania, Ukraine, Italy, England, Poland, Sweden, Croatia, USA, Turkey.
Nations covered thematically: Croatia, (East) Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Ukraine.
Edited by Petrică Mogoș, Laura Naum
Design by Alice Stoicescu
Cover: Ukr Nostalgia, by Anna Grozavu
Pages: 240 pages
ISSN: 2559 - 8015
Awards & Rewards:
Graphic Design Award—Romanian Design Week 2018
Editorial Design Award—The Most Beautiful Books of Romania 2018
Most Popular Covers of 2017—Stack Magazines