Metelkova, a lively cultural house and concert hall in Ljubljana, has become a thorn in the eye of the government of Slovenia which seeks to tear it down. “This is a nasty political attempt to silence the most vital cultural scene of the whole country,” writes a group of Metelkova’s supporters to Freemuse
According to the support group, Metelkova provides 40 percent of the non-commercial music events in the city of Ljubljana. It is the second largest provider of cultural events in Ljubljana, and its level of activity on the music scene can be compared with that of the established Ljubljana Festival.
On Wednesday 14 June 2006 at 6 AM, the Inspectorate for the Environment and Spatial Planning brought an excavating machine to the Autonomous Cultural Zone Metelkova, Ljubljana, to tear down one of the buildings of the converted ancient army barracks which they consider to have been erected illegally. However, the cultural workers and supporters of Metelkova prevented the action.
“This is an attempt to destroy one of the liveliest cultural and intellectual locations in Ljubljana. It was the third one in the past few months. Various inspections have recently intensified their interventions during cultural events at Metelkova,” writes the support group in their letter to Freemuse.
The government of Slovenia is acting in accordance with a recently passed law on catering industries. Under the cover of its strict provisions regulating commercial activities, which cannot be fulfilled by the non-profit associations and NGOs of Metelkova, the executive might as well put an end to the largest agglomeration of alternative cultures in the country.
Metelkova is the only location in the city, and one of the few in the country, where youth cultures and alternative cultures are systematically produced and presented to a large and active audience. It is also a forum of impressive intellectual irradiation. During each academic year, it organises the Workers’ Punkers’ University where the most urgent dilemmas of the contemporary world are discussed by competent international speakers. Metelkova recently hosted the annual meeting of TransEuropeHalles. During the 13 years of its existence, projects at the Autonomous Cultural Zone Metelkova have been supported by the Ministry of Culture and by the City of Ljubljana, as well as by many international sponsors.
Producers from Metelkova have been participating to Documenta, Manifesta, Sao Paolo Biennial, Venice Biennale, Wiener Festwochen. Many international festivals held in Ljubljana locate part of their activities at Metelkova: The City of Women, The Other Music, Jazz Festival Ljubljana, Trnfest. Metelkova has been presented as an outstanding phenomenon by international media suc as ARD, Arte, BBC, Belarus’ State TV, Die Zeit, Falter, Feral Tribune, Los Angeles Times, ORF, Russian State TV, Seattle Times, and ZDF.
Metelkova is a squat which was initiated in 1993, when a group of alternative producers and activists occupied the ancient barracks of the army headquarters near the centre of Ljubljana in order to prevent its illegal destruction, which was launched by still unknown agents presumably led by speculative real-estate interest. Although it has never succeeded in achieving a proper legal status, the location was registered as national cultural heritage in 2005.
The Metelkova supporters write:
And to the Minister of Culture:
The supporters of Metelkova are: Wasim Alkhatib, Miha Blazič, Maja Breznik, Katarina Deskovič, Narcisa Deskovič, Sabina Dogič, Zana Fabjan, Damjan Kocjančič, Nina Kozinc, Andrej Kurnik, Jadranka Ljubičič, Iztok Markoja, Jurij Markoja, Rastko Močnik, Marion Murlan, Sabina Schwenner, Andrej Sevsek, and Darij Zadnikar.
Metelkova’s official website
After almost two years in prison, Cuban rock rebel Gorki Luis Águila Carrasco was released on 16 March 2005.
Gorki Luis Águila Carrasco is a popular musician in Cuba. In 2003, he had just produced an award-winning video, and a radio station in Havana announced that Gorki was the third most popular rocker in Cuba. Then – at a rock festival in Pinar del Río in April 2003 – he was suddenly arrested on charges of drug trafficking.
Four months later, on 15 August 2003, the controversial Cuban rock artist was convicted and sentenced to four years imprisonment. His constant challenge to free speech in Cuba was silenced. During the brief trial, where Gorki’s attorney did only have ten minutes to present his client’s case, the Counsel for the Prosecution did not present convincing evidence. The circumstances leading to his arrest were such that no evidence of drug trafficking was presented.
On October 17, 2003, Freemuse launched an international campaign for the release of Gorki Carrasco, and requested the Cuban government to reconsider the doubtful court case against him.
Initially, Gorki was held under harsh conditions that seriously affected his health in Destacamento Cinco in the Provincial Prison of Pinar del Río. In 2004, he was moved to a minimum security prison just outside Havana. There, he was part of a prison salsa band.
In March 2005, Freemuse received information that he has been granted conditional release. Details are still unknown.
Approximately 75 dissidents – writers, doctors and opposition politicians – were jailed in Cuba in 2003. The majority continue to serve time in the Cuban prisons.
Read The World’s Marco Werman report, Global Hit, of January 19, 2005: