The indifference of Lastovo
It seems that what makes Lastovo special is the mutually accepted level interaction between the island and “the rest of the world” – almost total physical isolation from the mainland and an inwards orientation seems to have created a particularly rammish and seemingly apathetic attitude towards “newcomers” and their intentions. In the past, the island(?) was of interest as a potentially important Mediterranean trade spot, or as a first/last fortification. During the course of history it was often a target for pirate attacks. This is because the ambivalent perception of Lastovo by the mainland made it a perfect hiding place and a great starting point for new pillages. However it seems that the pirates had the least success of all on Lastovo. The Poklad (Carneval) of Lastovo tells the story of a legend about how the islanders, united and assisted by natural elements (a storm), managed to defend Lastovo from the robbers.
Lastovo today represents a considerable exception from the general perception of Croatian islands, especially ones that are popular tourist destinations. Insular in nature, the island's originality lies in its unspoiled environment, visible and sometimes well-preserved historical heritage, and its perception of the passing of time, which is similar to the mentality of some remote mainland villages. One could get the (naïve?) impression that even today, in our global village, they are not in any hurry to acquire some sort of position or grab their own piece of the cake; as they are aware that, in doing so, they would simply gamble away their own identity.
This almost complete indifference to the lifestyle of mainland people could seem like a calculated pose of experienced traders, but also as an honest attempt to resist general consumer trends. It's quite normal that, if you find yourself at Lastovo during Poklad, you'll end up hungry because none of the local restaurants or shops are open, whilst everyone present at the festival is neither hungry nor thirsty. Well, they have all had food at home. It is not strange for them to look with loathing in their eyes at the fruit and vegetables found on Split market because they are “artificial”, and to consider the only good produce to be that which is produced traditionally and for their own needs. Lastovci (locals of Lastovo) refuse to believe that today it's possible to make virgin olive oil anywhere else other than on their island (and even then only in special locations).
The special “pride” of the people of Lastovo is also related to (non)existence of beaches. Actually, they'll tell you that there are some wild ones, but they belong to “them” and no attempts are made to “urbanize” or incorporate them into general expectations of beaches. They talk about those beaches with gravel and fine sand with a sour expression on their face because they are not original. A unique ecological attitude dominates at every turn, a rhythm that is being set by experiences of times long-passed and an awareness of their own past, whatever shape it may have taken in such a limited and isolated space, only affirms the picture of an island that doesn't have any intention to fulfill anybody's wishes. Instead it develops according to its own needs. Lastovo is not a tourist destination, nor will it ever become one. It is a place for living with a selective, very defiant sense of humor. Almost like art itself.
Andrej Bereta, 11th February 2016
AiR Lastovo 2016
AiR Lastovo 2016 is the first artist in residency project on the Croatian island of Lastovo, and is developed as a 1-month creative interaction with the island.
Being introduced and connected with the local context is conceptualized as a way to foster research and new forms of artistic production. The residency is part of a wider network of projects aiming to raise awareness about the cultural heritage of Lastovo, the need for renovation of abandoned and dilapidated sites, and ways to actively include the local community in the preservation of the island.
The residency is open to artists working in different media (traditional and contemporary), whose work could be set and/or made in either a gallery or various public spaces: the town of Lastovo, places Uble and Skrivena Luka. The program also welcomes curatorial- artistic projects and research.
Curators: Andrej Bereta and Srđan Tunić, art historians and curators.
- Association for promoting culture and art Dobre Dobričević (Udruga za promicanje kulture i umjetnosti Dobre Dobričević), Lastovo, Croatia.
- Heritage Go Pro j.d.o.o, Split, Croatia.
- Civil Association “ARTIKAL: Association for curating and promoting contemporary and free artistic expression”, Belgrade, Serbia.
AiR Lastovo contact: firstname.lastname@example.org (website in development)
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