KAMARONES, JUGOSLAVIJA

Lažno je sunce, istina je njegova putanja. 

In 1954, a contingent of strange characters would arrive at the newly formed Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia: men with short mustaches mounting horses, women clothed with 'rebozos', both singing praises to the Mexican Revolution.

 

Soon, Serbs, Croats, Bosnians, Slovenes, Montenegrins, and Macedonians (among a variety of others) would begin to sing in their own language and at the rhythm of the Mariachi that they saw emerging from the projectors of the movie theatres.

A territory of exceptionality, Mexico imagined by nationalist film directors such as Emilio (El Indio) Fendández and cinematographers such as Gabriel Figueroa, became a fundamental part of the festivities, aspirations and common dreams of a republic inspired by diversity. The proliferation of Yugoslav Mariachis at family parties and in various episodes of the Balkan public life is an endearing memory for a generation that saw disappear, not only the county in which that happened but the world in which the aspiration of an illusory Mexico was a collective condition of various Slavic nations.

Fed by what has been called yugostalgia or yugonostalgia, 'Kamarones, Jugoslavia' rehearses the possibility of a trip to imaginary Yugoslavia through the geography of an allegorical Mexico. Recovering the landscapes, stories, characters, music and iconography of the Mexico of the revolutionary nationalism, and contrasting its validity as a utopian path form the memory of the population that integrated what was revealed as a failed nation project, this exercise seeks to put in highlight the emotional (and even political) value of the contingency of artificial identities. 

 

In the summer of 2018,  a Stultifera Navis expedition went around Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, and Montenegro in search of the town of 'Kamarones', inspired by the homonymous Mexican town in the state of Veracruz. This false premise, the search for a Mexican neighborhood in the middle of the Balkans, served as a trigger for the narrative memory of the unified Yugoslavia of the 1950s. 

 

From this, testimonies were collected, of how the songs and images of Mexico created diverse emotional strategies among the post-war Yugoslavs to face the future with optimism. In the former Yugoslavia today, was talking about that era has been veiled by official discourse or ethnic and religious antagonisms, talking about Mexico was an alternate way to talk about the common past without fear or political confrontation. Curiously, we recognize this same mechanism in our historical research: "Marichi is a neutral territory" says a character from an Emir Kusturica film set in the cold war.

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