Opening on June 16th, 2014


Every day in the period from October 6th, 2012 until October 5th, 2013 the authors of this project had before them all editions of daily newspapers published in Serbia. They had to choose a single newspaper, and from that newspaper one news, they wanted to see instead of the one that is posted on the cover page.

Why we would love something that is beautiful and good over something that is bad and evil? Is there any kind of innate affection? If someone loves ugly better than good, it acts like a pathology, no matter what can be interpreted as a right of taste. Is it the same thing with the good? Is not that schizophrenic? Today these antique and scholastic questions sound quite absurd for a simple reason because any public opinion survey can easily prove that there is no dilemma: the majority of people are pleading for good and beautiful, and minority for evil and ugly. Here we are not engaging into detailed explanations of what is good and what is evil for someone, what is nice and what is ugly. No one will accept that abuse of children and powerless is good, and helping and protecting bad and endangered is evil. It is possible that some sort of physical punishment is not considered abusive, but for the non-essential educational instrument.

The more we go into the details, they become more and more “foggy”. Is that the essence of today’s world? In order to firmly define one of the general values, but in its application we encounter a multitude of questions and dilemmas. Many things can be relativized. The newspaper’s pages that are before us, the main – the title ones, and the other ones that are usually on the last pages represents a kind of history not so much of Serbian journalism as for the Serbian society of a certain period. That period is one year: From Oktober 6th, 2012 until Oktober 5th 2013. (I believe that it was possible to choose another year and the result would be about the same.) The whole year is “packaged” between the front and the inside, between what “sells” the newspaper and what constitutes a special newspaper content. Let’s understand each other: we do not want to oppose the disgusting information to those who are positive and encouraging because such opposition does not have a true purpose.

However, there is something much more serious than a newspaper sale. It is a matter of creating a certain dependency in which more and more intense stimulants are needed, in order to maintain commercial tension. This means that it is necessary to offer more challenging content from day to day, from the number to the number. Can we see the end of it? Is there some sort of limit in this process that will lead to the “peak” of satisfaction? If certain topics and content are not repeated with certain saturation, journalists and editors will be forced to look for new and untested excitement. What is the end? Cannibalism combined with incest? What will be after that? I believe it will be because the human imagination and reality can never be fully planned.

When we analyze what is published as the most striking and important information in some newspapers, we are aware that the freedom and independence of journalism directly depend on the editors and journalists which independently choose topics and content. When we support the responsibility and dignity of journalism, does not mean that there are topics that the media can not, or may not engage in. It is about the way the media will address the people and the society in which they operate. What is the number of abused children whose identity was discovered in the media? Who will take care of ordinary people whose fate is “dragged through the mud” without the hope that injustice can ever be corrected? We are not talking about politicians and wealthy individuals who have the right to their privacy and dignity, we are talking about those marginalized groups that are so easily marked with a “stamp” of poverty and crime.

In this reality, there is yet another dimension of our sociability, which is now developed and adapted in an entirely new way. It’s about hypocrisy. Most people will tell you that they do not read the news that is dominated by sensationalism and vulgarity. A feeling of certain shame over the content and topics dominated by tabloids lead people to refuse to read such newspapers, especially to believe what is written. The level of credibility has never been less when it comes to the Serbian media. People do not believe in them, but they are still ready to persuade the rumors and terrible stories they have discovered. People don’t believe in the information written on the cover pages, but nevertheless, they talk about that information.

When those same consumers would be surveyed by public opinion researchers, about topics that should be in the newspapers, their response is that they want more social topics about ordinary people. If they print such a newspaper tomorrow, we believe that the remittance would be enormous. This is a type of hypocrisy that is not only related to the media but also to many other areas: education, health, justice, culture. There is a whole fictional and idealized world that is all about superlatives and the other world, practical and concrete, that have completely opposite values.

It’s like an old story about two brothers were one worth, honest and naive, and the other one lazy, detained and cunning. When the father sends them to the world he is concerned about that naive as much as for that cunning one. One will be deceived and the other one will end up in prison. The story usually places everyone in their place so that the one who ends up in jail is much more successful than the honest one, which the father stoically accepts as injustice for which no one is particularly responsible, but the Spirit of the time in which honesty is less and less valued. Adaptation skills today present not only superior business but also a moral value. As you walk through the woods inhabited by nightingales and larks consider how many trees are cut down in order to raise the boundaries of our moral and aesthetic endurance.

Not to forget: nightingales sing at night and larks with the first rays of the sun. It’s a sign of Romeo and Juliet departure.

Kazimir Ćurgus

See front pages HERE