This year’s eighth edition of Almissa bore a working title “Piracy”, but the title was dropped, and we accepted a new idea: the festival would be titled “May a Stone be your Pillow, Motherfucker”, after a song originally performed by the punk band Ilija i Zrno Žita. This year’s festival presented a klapa version of the song by the band Porno Suicid and the Klapa Utvare. This act of piracy enabled us to directly address the public and the inhabitants of Omiš, inviting them to participate and warning them that the content of Almissa festival was, in fact, speaking about our reality.
To avoid making the festival conventional and socially acceptable, we had to set new criteria, so we decided to climb down from the fortress and go to the streets and squares, without any exact announcement of the program, and placing the artists in the spotlight by presenting and announcing their performances. Hence, we created a new audience – people who weren’t quite sure what was happening and why. We established direct contact with the people (not an audience), making space for a new dimension, a new experience, and, hopefully, a new perception of the festival.
Almissa didn’t want to be a part of the Omiš Cultural Summer and the cultural tourism offer that takes part in creating the illusion of summer prosperity (along with the Festival of Dalmatian klapa, the Pirate nights, the Pirate Battle, folklore evenings, fishermen evenings, folk festivals and other manifestations). We were looking for a new approach by engaging in risk, experiment, a form that was not yet tested or shaped by value scales. We were focusing on self-examination and self-reflection, ignoring the already established practices, standards and ideologies; the main ideas were the absence of ego and self-presentation with the intent to be equal to others, mixed with the people of Omiš and their guests, which we literally were during those days.
This way, Almissa did not become a folklore relic, but hopefully opened up a new dynamic and remained in the memory of children, whose reactions to the “weird” people who appeared as their guests in their place were the most natural. “This is the craziest thing that ever happened in our city,” a girl said, giving us the sweetest comment on our efforts in the streets of Omiš. Porno Suicid and Utvare klapa were kissed and hugged by an older gentleman, giving a new highlight to this year’s festival. Porno Suicid and Utvare performed a cover of the song “Croatio, iz duše te ljubim” (“Croatia, I love you from the bottom of my soul”), renaming the song to “Kušin Stina” (“Cushion-Stone”), a song written and sung by Vinko Barić, accompanied by Gildo Bavčević, Marko Marković and Utvare). The performance was recognized by the general public as an image of today’s society and hypocritical patriotism, and “nominated” to become the hymn of young gastarbeiter.
Neka tebi kušin bude stina, pizda ti materina, pizda ti materina. Ukra si hrpu tvornica, razjeba petšest bolnica, kupija BMW i Hummera, izljubija Ivu Sanadera. A želiš da spavam na stini umisto kušina, da budem domoljubna sirotinja. Ma goni se, pizda ti materina.
(May a stone be your pillow, motherfucker, motherfucker. You stole a bunch of factories, you fucked five or six hospitals, you bought a BMW and a Hummer, you kissed Ivo Sanader. Still, you want me to sleep on a stone instead of a cushion, you want me to be a patriotic beggar. Fuck you, motherfucker.)
Omiš is known as the center of the klapa milieu and the festival that brought the klapa singing to the level of world heritage, so with the Almissa program we also thought about this context by producing voices, containing none of the skills and narcissism that are usually a part of the klapa performance. To make these performances happen, we have invited artists of whom we were certain that they would accept such an approach and challenge, those who could demonstrate their faith in art and the role of artists in society through their work and action, both human and artistic. Tomislav Gotovac’s ideas and his scornful verbal performances, his Dead Man Walking screenplay; a performance by Jusuf Hadžifejzović in which he sells emptiness; klapa cover of underground hits by Ilija i Zrno Žita; a happening by Kata Mijatović titled The Omiš Choir — Omiš girls screaming for energy cleansing and affirming life; a performance by Josip Pino Ivančić — expelling the evil embodied in the ideas of ex-minister of culture Zlatko Hasanbegović; Giovanni Morbin dressed as a Roman legionnaire who, at the entrance of a Konzum store, shared coins with people who took photos with him, as a part of a performance “The Second Fall of Rome”; a video documentation of the disturbing performance “COMPOSITION: BORI, NEVJESTA, BRIDE” by Selma Selman; a video of a sad vocal performance by Ivana Pegan Baće; Siniša Labrović’s performance “Bird” – walking through the city all day, wearing a bird cage on his head and whistling; an action by Tajči Čekada – “EkoEko-Ljudsko mlijeko” (“EcoEco-Human Milk”), selling products made from human milk; Zoran Pavelić’s performance dedicated to Omiš, repeating the name of the city as a part of a mantra, while washing his face in the water; Eun Su Lim, an artist from Korea, made a symbolically charged performance and participated in a performance with Jusuf Hadžifejzović, dedicated to deceased artists: all of them became one with Omiš in an emotional way, thanks to an environment that reacted naturally and was interested in the actions of their temporary fellow citizens.
We came to the town with “a capella shrieks” to trigger a reaction and initiate a change and eventually, we returned to the Fortress of Mirabella and summed up all that happened these days.
Slaven Tolj, curator