Project Beton was initiated by the Cultural-propaganda community Beton (association of citizens, NGO). The main idea behind this initiative is a critical approach towards the most important phenomena in our recent and current culture and politics, which directly influences the intent to sustain a retrograde cultural model. It utilizes media to convey a new and provocative communication style that targets the response of various social groups, in addition to suggesting new tendencies in social, political and cultural development.
The central part of the project is a feuilleton in the daily Danas in the form of an independent supplement under the name Cultural-propaganda set Beton. The number of issued copies is equivalent to the daily print run of Danas. (For financial reasons, the frequency is one issue per month.) Two books have been published based on texts from Beton: Srbija kao sprava (Dangraf, 2007) and Antimemorandum-dum (VBZ, 2009), and a number of round-table talks and promotions have been organized in different cities of the region.
Since 2007, Beton has also had an electronic issue: www.elektrobeton.net where an entire archive of texts as well as non-published material is available.
Beton associates are people from different parts of Serbia and the area of former Yugoslavia, the Balkans, as well as the rest of the world: Branislav Jakovljevic – professor at the University of Minnesota; Svetlana Slapsak – professor at the University of Ljubljana; Jasmina Lukic – professor at the Central European University in Budapest; Nenad Velickovic – professor at the University of Sarajevo; Viktor Ivancic – journalist and a writer from Split, Srdan V. Tesin, writer, Kikinda; Igor Dordevic, poet, Pirot; Ivan Potic, Public library, Zajecar; Ljiljana Jokic Kaspar, writer, and a columnist, Novi Sad; Peter Bozik, ExSymposion, Budapest; Mirko Kovac, writer; Bora Cosic, writer; Andrej Nikolaidis, writer, Ulcinj; Arben Idrizi, Prishtina; and many others.
With its editorial and journalist work, Beton wants to establish a new cultural paradigm and a pro-European political ambiance in media, which would enable the creation of a new system of values in accordance with European norms and values. Mutation of a cultural paradigm is an aspiration towards urbanity, deconstruction of nationalistic, philistine, provincial values and conservatism, in addition to deconstructing a model of opinion that obstructs the right to diversity in our society.
Associates and authors of Beton are journalists, writers, and intellectuals that seek to partake in an open and polemic dialogue with a retrograde cultural model which persistently adheres to our society, even after a decade of the emollition of the regime which installed it and verified it as inviolable.
In this sense, Beton mostly includes the following themes in areas of politics, society, and culture: reconsidering national myths and those artworks which recreated mentioned myths; reconsidering all aspects of cultural matrixes (literature, film, theatre, fine and visual arts, philosophy, cultural institutions, etc.); reconsidering possibilities of university reforms and university curricula; reconsidering the responsibility of intellectuals and political elites who participated in the creation of a politics of war; setting up regional cooperation between artists and intellectuals at the territory of former Yugoslavia; lobbying for the establishment and respect for the human being; minority, authors and intellectual rights; precise detecting and argumentative critique of existing problems in the culture and politics of Serbia; tending for a civil society in Serbia which could reconstruct dialogue with its direct neighbours as well as with the world.
Beton has accomplished reciprocal cooperation with Zarez from Zagreb. Periodically, a selection of texts from Zarez is published in Beton, and vice versa. Collaboration with a literature portal and the bookstore Booksa was also established. Younger generation critics from Serbia and Croatia present literary works from both countries.
In 2007, Beton won the Dusan Bogovac award, given by the Association of independent journalists of Serbia for journalistic courage and ethics. The acknowledgment set a new precedent for this award because for the first time laureates came from a sphere of culture, which until Beton was founded was considered a “harmless and arranged sphere” of society.
In 2010, Beton was introduced to the German-speaking audience at Leipziger Buchmesse, with a special issue on 36 pages in German. This project was supported by TRADUKI network.
In 2011, Beton returned to Leipzig with a project of crossover anthologies from Belgrade and Prishtina. The anthology From Belgrade, with love, was translated into Albanian and published in Prishtina, and From Prishtina, with love was translated into Serbian and published in Belgrade. Excerpts from both books were translated into German and published in a special issue of Beton. This project was entirely supported by TRADUKI.