The film essay Days In Between was born out of a personal urge to reflect on imaginary landscape reliefs that determine politics; on self-projected topographies devised for one’s own convenience. It talks of wry pictures, images nailed hard and fast so that one’s comforting world view doesn’t shift. Dwelling on lacunae and ruptures, on imperceptible moments in history where fixed meanings dissipate, I investigate narrative spaces shaped by dissonant phenomena. Looking back whilst being in the present is a way of internalizing one’s gaze and suspending temporalities. There’s an uncertainty of time and place in this. Blind spots and breaches in a linear, homogenizing order of events become the premise for constructing counter-histories, for upending accepted historical narratives.
The film is set in the Balkan Peninsula, the definition of the name itself being questionable. What are the Balkans? Can one describe them in a satisfactory manner? Where do they stop and where (or when) does Southeast Europe begin? Alexander Kiossev in his essay “The Dark Intimacy: Maps, Identities, Acts of Identifications” claims that “... the label “The Balkans” shares with other clichés a kind of automatic essentialism—it is a geographic metonym that presupposes the existence of a non-geographical referent.”1 The metonymy “the Balkans” proves, then, to be a symbolic gesture of reduction and simplification that assumes the existence of a homo balkanicus, a subordination of a primate genus that shares a list of common attributes. Stressing a quality of suppression or even eradication, Slavoj Žižek postulates that for every so-called Balkan country, the “Balkans” was but a term for that country’s closest eastern or southeastern neighbor.2 The project addresses these issues as it attempts to navigate the stereotypical pool of metaphors and clichés that tend to define the countries of the region not by identity traits of their own but, rather, by their location on a fault line.3 What interested me specifically was to see how politics repeatedly uses conceptions of nature in order to legitimize specific regimes of power. What happens to contested places when conflict is in hibernation and they go ‘out-of-fashion’? And what are the implications resulting from an engagement in such research? By addressing notions of ‘otherness’ and ‘othering’, western hegemonic strategies, stigmatization, observing and being observed, the politics of the image and image-making, my wish was to unearth and expose both the underlying ethical trajectories and the ‘reliability’ of the essayist.