Balkan Xpedition

Exploring narratives

The Balkans. South-East Europe. The southern part of Eastern Europe. A territory that has never allowed itself to be captured within borders, be it historical, geographical, economical, geopolitical, ideological, or regarding religion or language… A territory that has always been in the draught of cultures, civilizations, bloody fights and blossoming trade. Illyrian queen Teuta; Ancient Greek ruler Alexander the Great… Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, Venetian Republic… And a host of Slavic kingdoms in-between… Contacts and clashes between Habsburg and Ottoman Empires, Islam and Christianity, Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches.

This has been a fertile soil for folk narratives since the pre-Christian times. Ballads, myths, legends and fairy tales have been narrated, circulated and recreated by tradesmen, soldiers, travellers… yes, also by refugees. It all depends on the capacities of the narrators and their audiences, on the place and time of the event. And on the path, of course…

The path between steep mountains, wide rivers, deep forests.

Which themes have survived until the present days? What kind of transformations have they undergone? What do they mean to us, travellers – and what to “them”, inhabitants of these places? Can we include them into “artificial, artistic” art created by the Author? And what about the stereotypes (laziness, stupidity, cunning) that they induce? Are they still entrenched here and now, or do they only come up in jokes and inasmuch as they are (mis)used by artists in their creative processes?

The joint venture begins in Zagreb and ends in Rijeka (Croatia). One way “across the hilly Balkans”, and back across the “Adriatic Sea.

The Balkan corner – a journey into the past and the unknown… amid people who carry wealth and creativity within themselves.


The best example of the path of a narrative is a documentary by Bulgarian director Adela Peeva, Whose Is This Song? (trailer) from 2003, which won several awards on festivals throughout Europe.

“Across the hilly Balkans” is a popular phrase known from the poem A Bloody Tale by Desanka Maksimović.

The “Adriatic Sea” is a popular phrase known from the poem Adriatic Sea by Simon Jenko (video).

Xpedition Route:

1. Zagreb

Starting point of Balkan Xpedition.

2. Jasenovac

3. Užice

4. Prizren

5. Shkoder

6. Cetinje

7. Mostar

8. Dubrovnik

9. Rijeka

Final destination on Balkan Xpedition.

Artists that participated on Balkan Xpedition:

Latest News:

Corners published “Hide or Reveal”, a booklet by Helena Wikström and Una Bauer

In October 2011 Helena Wikström and Una Bauer met at the Xpedition Caucasus, and in April 2012 they again travelled together at Xpedition Balkan, visiting countries of ex Yugoslavia and Albania. Beside meeting new landscapes, the sole experience of two-week-long travelling and constant changing of locations was an inspiration to Helena and Una for a publication “Hide or Reveal”. Photo series documents travelling companions, landscapes and moments spent in movement, while the text illustrates subjective feeling of travelling and questions what is hidden to us as travellers and strangers in some place, and what is inevitably reviled.

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