video, color, sound, 18 min
Six months after the NATO military intervention ended the armed conflict and humanitarian crisis in Kosovo (1998–1999), Florence Lazar travelled to Serbia with the intention of understanding, in her capacity as an artist, a climate in which ethno-nationalist fervour still held sway. Despite being forced from office in elections ten months later (October 2000), Slobodan Milošević, who had risen to power a decade earlier with an ethno-nationalist agenda, still enjoyed high levels of popularity. While family ties and annual childhood holidays had seen her visit the region in the past, this was the first time Lazar had returned there since the outbreak of war in neighbouring Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. During a three-week sojourn in Belgrade, in December 1999, she conducted numerous interviews with people from various sections of Serbian society – helped, not least of all, by her mother, who joined her on her travels as interpreter. From these she produced an initial video, Si je ne suis pas fou, c’est que je dois être anormal (If I’m Not Crazy, It Must Be Because I’m Abnormal). A further sojourn, however, in a small village in central Serbia, known since childhood to her mother, proved particularly fortuitous when a group of peasant farmers agreed, on the spot, to being interviewed in their workplace. The filming of Les Paysans was thus entirely improvised. The interview resulted, fortuitously, in one of the most lucid and well- documented critiques of the regime recorded throughout the entire trip.
Editing : Philip Koening
Sound editing: Josefina Rodriguez
Sound mixing: Mathieu Farnarier
With the support La Galerie, centre d’art contemporain de Noisy-le-Sec, centre d’art contemporain Passerelle, Brest
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