mama in Mars & Medak 2017
vist, independent scholar, and artist. His work has been
instrumental in development of civil society in Croatia and beyond. Marcell is one
of the founders of the Multimedia Institute – mi2 (1999) (Multimedia Institute,
2016a) and Net.culture club MaMa in Zagreb (2000) (Net.culture club MaMa,
2016a). He is a member of Creative Commons Team Croatia (Creative Commons,
2016). He initiated GNU GPL publishing label EGOBOO.bits (2000) (Monoskop,
2016a), meetings of technical enthusiasts Skill sharing (Net.culture club MaMa,
2016b) and various events and gatherings in the fields of hackerism, digital
cultures, and new media art. Marcell regularly talks and runs workshops about
hacking, free software philosophy, digital cultures, social software, semantic web
etc. In 201
media theory and aesthetics. He is an advocate of free software and
free culture, and the Project Lead of the Creative Commons Croatia (Creative
Commons, 2016). He works as coordinator of theory and publishing activities at
the Multimedia Institute/MaMa (Zagreb, Croatia) (Net.culture club MaMa, 2016a).
Tomislav is an active contributor to the Croatian Right to the City movement
(Pravo na grad, 2016). He interpreted to numerous books into Croatian language,
including Multitude (Hardt & Negri, 2009) and A Hacker Manifesto (Wark,
2006c). He i
ber 2015 and December 2016.
NET.CULTURE AT THE DAWN OF THE CIVIL SOCIETY
Petar Jandrić & Ana Kuzmanic (PJ & AK): In 1999, you established the
Multimedia Institute – mi2 (Multimedia Institute, 2016a); in 2000, you established
the Net.culture club MaMa (both in Zagreb, Croatia). The Net.culture club MaMa
has the following goals:
To promote innovative cultural practices and broadly understood social
activism. As a cultural center, it promotes wide range of new artistic and
cultural practices related in the first place to the development of
communication technologies, as well as new tendencies in arts and theory:
from new media art, film and music to philosophy and social theory,
publishing and cultural policy issues.
As a community center, MaMa is a Zagreb’s alternative ‘living room’ and
a venue free of charge for various initiatives and associations, whether they
are promoting minority identities (ecological, LBGTQ, ethnic, feminist and
KNOWLEDGE COMMONS AND ACTIVIST PEDAGOGIE
tioning established social norms. (Net.culture club
Please describe the main challenges and opportunities from the dawn of Croatian
civil society. Why did you decide to establish the Multimedia Institute – mi2 and
the Net.culture club MaMa? How did you go about it?
Marcell Mars & Tomislav Medak (MM & TM): The formative context for
our work had been marked by the process of dissolution of Yugoslavia, ensuing
civil wars, and the rise of authoritarian nationalisms in the early 1990s. Amid
ontext that the high modernism of cultural
production from the Yugoslav period, driven out from public institutions, had
found its recourse and its continuity.
Our loose collective, which would later come together around the Multimedia
Institute and MaMa, had been decisively shaped by two circumstances. The first
was participation of the Anti-War Campaign, its BBS network ZaMir (Monoskop,
2016c) and in particular its journal Arkzin, in the early European network culture.
Second, the Open Society Inst
ese early days, our activities had been strongly oriented towards technological
literacy and education; also, we had a strong interest in political theory and
philosophy. Yet, the most important activity at that time was opening the
Net.culture club MaMa in Zagreb in 2000 (Net.culture club MaMa, 2016a).
PJ & AK: What inspired you to found the Net.culture club MaMa?
MM & TM: We were not keen on continuing the line of work that the
Multimedia Institute was doing under the Open Society Institute, which included,
amongst other activities, setting up the first non-state owned Internet service
provider ZamirNet. The
en a space where those activists could work together. At the brink of the
millennium, institutional exclusion and access to physical resources (including
space) needed for organizing, working together and presenting that work was a
pressing problem. MaMa was one of the only three independent cultural spaces in
Zagreb – capital city of Croatia, with almost one million inhabitants! The Open
Society Institute provided us with a grant to adapt a former downtown leather-shop
in the state of disrepair an
technology ranging from servers to
DJ decks. These resources were made available to all members of the general
public free of charge. Immediately, many artists, media people, technologists, and
political activists started initiating own programs in MaMa. Our activities ranged
from establishing art servers aimed at supporting artistic and cultural projects on
the Internet (Monoskop, 2016d) to technology-related educational activities,
cultural programs, and publishing. By 2000, nationalism had slowly been losing its
stranglehold on our society, and issues pertaining to capitalist globalisation had
arrived into prominence. At MaMa, the period was marked by alter-globalization,
Indymedia, web development, East European net.art and critical media theory.
The confluence of these interests and activities resulted in many important
developments. For instance, soon after the opening of MaMa in 2000, a group of
young music producers and enthusiasts kicked off a daily music program with live
acts, DJ sessions and meetings to share tips and tricks about producing electronic
music. In parallel, we had been increasingly drawn to free softwar
wledge and culture.
PJ & AK: The civil society is the collective conscious, which provides leverage
against national and corporate agendas and serves as a powerful social corrective.
Thus, at the outbreak of the US invasion to Iraq, Net.culture club MaMa rejected a
$100 000 USAID grant because the invasion was:
a) a precedent based on the rationale of pre-emptive war, b) being waged in
disregard of legitimate processes of the international community, and c)
guided by corporate interests to control natural resources (Multimedia
Institute, 2003 in Razsa, 2015: 82).
Yet, only a few weeks later, MaMa accepted a $100 000 grant from the German
state – and this provoked a wide public debate (Razsa, 2015; Kršić, 2003; Stubbs,
Now that the heat of the moment has gone down, what is your view to this
debate? More generally, how do you decide
Union – with all associated advantages and problems. What are the main today’s
challenges in maintaining the Multimedia Institute and its various projects? What
are your future plans?
MM & TM: From the early days, Multimedia Institute/MaMa took a twofold
approach. It has always supported people working in and around the organization
in their heterogeneous interests including but not limited to digital technology and
information freedoms, political theory and philosophy, contemporary di
of turmoil unleashed by the endless
War on Terror? If globalisation is reducing their life prospects to nothing, why
should they not see the solution to their own plight in the return of the regime of
At the Multimedia Institute/MaMa we intend to continue our work against this
collapse of context through intersectionalist organizing and activism. We will
continue to do cultural programs, publish books, and organise the Human Rights
Film Festival. In order to articulate, formulate
MM & TM: Continuing to risk a gross simplification in the genealogy, Eastern
European hacker communities formed rather late – probably because of the
turbulent economic and political changes that Eastern Europe went through after
In MaMa, we used to run the programme g33koskop (2006–2012) with a goal to
“explore the scope of (term) geek” (Multimedia Institute, 2016b). An important
part of the program was to collect stories from enthusiasts, hobbyists, or ‘geeks’
who used to
evels of skill – who bring in
various types of knowledge, and who arrive from various social backgrounds.
Working with hackers, we favour hands-on approach. For a number of years
Marcell has organized weekly Skill Sharing program (Net.culture club MaMa,
2016b) that has started from very basic skills. The bar was incrementally raised to
today’s level of the highly specialized meritocratic community of 1337 hackers. As
the required skill level got too demanding, some original memb
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