Over 30,000 visitors in Brussels

Exhibition opening in Leskovac (Serbia), celebration of Balkan comics

CAN for Balkans – past, present and future

Goran Cvetanovic – a mayor who is very proud that his city is the “capital” of comics in the Balkans

An exhibition made with passion, creativity and tenacity

After the extraordinary success in Brussels, where it was seen by more than 30,000 visitors of the Comics Art Museum, during the winter holidays and at the beginning of the year, the exhibition of the European project “CAN for BALKANS” (curator Nicolae Pepene), carried out by the Brașov County History Museum County, arrived in Serbia, in Leskovac.

            The Serbian hosts had the ambition to turn the opening of the exhibition into a celebration of historical comics on a national and even international level. On February 3, 2023, the program started in the morning with the debate “Balkans in comics, comics in the Balkans”, moderated by Marko Stojanovic, the president of the “Nikola Mitrovic Kokan” School of Comics in Leskovac. Open comics workshops followed, in which four of the winners of the “CAN for Balkans” international competition, Ionuț Popescu (1st prize), Kosta Milovanovic (2nd prize), Srdan Teodorovic (3rd prize) and Aljosa Tomic (mention) demonstrated to the students of the Department of Artistic and Technological Studies – Academy of Vocational Studies of South Serbia Leskovac.

           In the evening, before the opening ceremony of the exhibition, the debate “CAN for Balkans – past, present and future” took place at the Leskovac Cultural Center, which was attended by historians, comics historians, artists, members of the Society of Historians of Serbia,, Dr. Stojan Novaković” and of the Club of Historians and History Students “11 January” from Niš. The guest were: the Serbian historian Aleksandar Uzelac, professor of the Faculty of History – University of Belgrade, the Bulgarian historian Aleksandar Vlackov, the Romanian historian Nicolae Pepene, the Albanian historian Dorian Koci, the director of the National Museum of History of Albania, the Romanian comics historian Dodo Niță, Vane Trajkov, historian, comics publisher and the president of the Comic Center of Macedonia, Slobodan Ikvov, Serbian comics historian , Manuel Fernandez, director of multimedia exhibitions section at Center Belge de la Bande Dessinée, and Marko Stojanovici, comics  screenwriter and teacher.

          The mayor of Leskovac, Goran Cvetanovic, the director of the Leskovac Cultural Center, Sanja Conic, the project manager and curator of the exhibition, Nicolae Pepene and the artistic coordinator of the Serbian “CAN for Balkans” team, Marko Stojanovic, spoke at the opening ceremony of the “CAN for Balkans” exhibition.

Regarding the media partners of the project, after the national television of Albania in November 2022, now also the national television of Serbia is promoting the “CAN for Balkans” exhibition.

          About “CAN for Balkans” in Leskovac:

“The city of Leskovac proudly bears the epithet of the comic book capital of the Balkans. We will continue to help local comic schools, promoting the growth of artists, young and even older, because such cultural contents, and especially the people who protect them, are the pride of our city and the best promotion program.” (Goran Cvetanovic, mayor of Leskovac).

“It is a great honor for me that Leskovac is the one representing Serbia in this international project and that through CAN for Balkans we managed to do a comprehensive research of Serbian comics.” (Marko Stojanovic, president of the School of Comics “Nikola Mitrovic Kokan” Leskovac)

“It is the first time that we have an art installation in the Leskovac Cultural Center and everything looks wonderful. It’s a spectacular premiere! Thank you, Brașov County History Museum for the extraordinary effort! Thank you, Nicolae Pepene, for the passion, creativity and tenacity with which you created this unique exhibition!” (Aleksander Stamenkovici, CAN for Balkans Serbia team coordinator).

            The “CAN for Balkans” exhibition remains at the Leskovac Cultural Center for the period 3 – 27 February 2023, to be toured in North Macedonia, in Veles, at the beginning of March 2023. Until Leskovac, the exhibition was presented before, according to the agenda of the European project, in Brașov (October 2022), Tirana (November 2022) and Brussels (December 2022 – January 2023).

The partners of the CAN for Balkans – Comics Alliance Networking international project are: Brașov County History Museum, which is the project leader,  the National Historical Museum of Albania, Comics Art Museum Brussels – Belgian Comic Strip Center, Comic Center of Macedonia (North Macedonia), Leskovac school of comic ”Nikola Mitrovic Kokan” (Serbia).

              About the “CAN for Balkans” exhibition:

The star is the symbol that inspired the design created by curator Nicolae Pepene for the “CAN for Balkans” exhibition. The “Red Star” is about the past of historical comics from the Balkans, with a focus on the clichés and stereotypes used by comic book authors for the Balkan world. The “Yellow Star” section, whose design was inspired by the flag of the European Union, comprises the contemporary artistic perspective on the Balkans in history in the form of 64 original comics made by 67 artists, of which 27 artists from eight countries were selected in the international competition of the European project, organized between March and July 2022.