The system has always had its gatekeepers. Especially efficient—quiet, tame, and decently seated in tweed jackets with elbow patches—were the ones operating in the realm of the ideological apparatus of the state, mass media, and the vast, vastly ideologized cultural field. What were we taught in our schools and universities, what was served for us to read in the papers and listen to on TV news, which books were printed by major publishers, and why those? All of the above, as well as many more, were and still are active and always inviting fields for the exploration and demonstration of various forms of censorship. Official or unofficial, between the lines or explicit, harsh, or mild, imposed by the state, capital, private interests, religious structures, or the legion of akin.
There were always, of course, ways to bypass the gatekeepers. From alternative education and university takeovers to hand-printed and distributed fanzines and pirate radio stations, to the vast possibilities of the internet, to self-publishing: whether in historical forms like anarchist and partisan literature or samizdat, or as independent publishing groups, collectives, and coops.
The hardcore-punk scene of the 1990s and its self-publishing methods—from fanzines and music to books and films—played a critical role in the parallel education of an entire generation of future activists and social practitioners who would otherwise have been stuck in the mud of post-war Yugoslavia’s hyper-nationalist and belligerent public discourse. Alternative media, such as the anti-war action magazine Arkzin, carried the torch on a very respectable level throughout the decade, alongside the legendary Feral Tribune and strongholds of alternative culture, such as the biweekly Zarez. The origins of ISSA know-how, at least in its Balkan base, can be traced back to these or similar practices. We’re dedicated to exploring and practising them further—in then-hardly foreseen conditions, technologies, methods, directions, fields, and reach-out situations—but with the very same ethos. We strive to bypass the gatekeepers and head towards the allegedly impossible.