Renaming Machine

Suzana Milevska
Novi Sad, January 26th 2008, 17:00 -17:30

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Renaming Machine is a war concept that could be interpreted as a subtle but powerful strategy for erasing ethnic, cultural or gender identity without using any aggression or causing any direct material damage. It functions as a conceptual weapon of destruction, as a kind of wage war or a contest between the old and new identity layer. However, renaming simultaneously adds and multiplies a new layer of identity each time it erases one, because the names could be neither stolen nor completely erased: the best example of accumulation by dispossession in David Harvey’s terms. Moreover, according to Jacques Derrida giving names is also an act of love. RM attempts to point to the arbitrariness and contingency of representation that accompany the use of names and to raise the discussion about the invisible ideological patterns of “desiring renaming machine” standing behind the power regimes of representation while dispossessing and giving names.
In my presentation I want to focus on the exploration of this clandestine ambivalence within the renaming as a juxtaposition of various identities. It is extremely important to reflect the complex entanglements of the political and cultural processes of renaming and the urgent need for questioning how these processes and patterns influenced the construction and destabilisation of national, cultural and personal identity during the last two decades within the Balkan region. I aim to encompass various art and cultural phenomena attached to renaming in order to explore the scale to which renaming affects visual culture and transgresses cultural identities and subjectivities in the Balkans.
Renaming Machine was specifically motivated by the unique and absurd outwitting between Greece and Macedonia about the right to use the name “Macedonia.” This conflict resulted with exhausting processes of negotiations that still trouble the stability of the region. Regardless all paradoxes this “war of names” became an international precedent and the best example that names are overrated as identity insignia and “omen.”