The history of Rijeka is an inspiration to seek sister-cities, locations in which divides can still be witnessed in urban geography, the surrounding areas, and in the eyes of the inhabitants. It also mirrors contemporary Europe, an era of hope and sorrow that our continent has survived. This Flagship consists of several overlapping periods and a plethora of experiences.
We begin with background research and utilise existing projects (FRAMNAT, EU Remembrance, Future Monuments) and courses (Comparative History of Cultural Memory) that are already active at the University of Rijeka. Potential memory sites have been identified, research teams formed, and cooperation with already active sites, for example museums, has been ensured. This phase is based on a wide network of international academic and civil societies as partners for conferences, workshops and scientific research.
Phase two involves artistic interventions (performances, exhibitions, concerts, poetry readings, new monuments, memorial plaques, restored public spaces) on dozens of historical locations around town and the surrounding communities. Four seasons of art, four divided towns on stage and four monumental pieces by some of the best theatrical producers in Europe will form the climax of the Seasons of Power programme in 2020.
Many activities regarding the Seasons of Power take place in and around local historical places – buildings (The Governor’s Palace), spaces (Goli otok, Kampor camp on Rab), museums (Lipa), monuments (Victory Monument – Podhum), Sv. Katarina military complexes, former barracks of Spanish Civil War volunteers (presently the University Campus), famous remnants of the past (Tito’s Ship Galeb) and lost places forgotten by history.
Impulse: Rijeka survived occupation, liberation, monarchies, crumbling empires, failed socialist experiments. A city that was divided for decades, with a border shaped by the river Rječina, is a fantastic example of a cynical political border design.
With barbed wires being raised across Europe, the issue of borders becomes prominent and central. Tensions cannot be ignored.
The experience of being divided has shaped the identities of many European cities. Rijeka’s history is marked by its division between the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and the Kingdom of Italy, which at one point resulted in the forming of the Free State of Fiume, the first fascist state. By 2020 it will have been 100 years since that event. Following that, Rijeka had a controversial and bloody repopulation, and the aftermath of that can still be seen in the city’s essence, its architecture and opposing collective memories.