An interview with Ana about the Autonomous Socio-cultural Center (AKSC) in Skopje.
Enough is Enough (EIE): How and when did the Autonomous Socio-cultural Center (AKSC) in Skopje started?
(To explain: the history of the first version of AKSC).
Ana: The idea of an autonomous center was not a new one, especially among those of us who have visited this type of places around Europe. Skopje has seen some alternative centers before, but not of this kind. So, this center came out of the need for critical thinking and free expression that was felt in the atmosphere of our society and its creation began spontaneously in March 2013. It was spreading word to mouth and suddenly we were there, a group of 30 people sitting together in the city park discussing our needs about the space we were about to create.
As we were discussing our ideas, they started to materialize and were transformed into action. We decided to rent a space in an old building that once belonged to the railway workers and we succeeded to equip the space practicing DIY culture with minimal budget and all sorts of donations: from paint, chairs & shelves to cups and teapots for which we are very grateful to the local community.
EIE: What kind of activities took place at the AKSC in the past?
Ana: Only in one year we managed to organize around 200 events including movie projections, discussions, presentations, book promotions, diy & creative workshops, free language courses, music evenings, tea parties, collective kitchen & cooking events, workshops for children, exhibitions, performances, poetry readings, really really free market, psychology & personal development workshops. That’s where our first organic food coop started. Different kinds of organizations could come for their meetings there. It offered a shelter for many travelers on their way throughout Europe. We had our own zine and a library which we still keep today!
EIE: Can you tell us something about the interaction between activism and independent culture in Macedonia?
Ana: At the moment, the independent culture is fighting for its life in Macedonia. Most of the alternative spaces are shut down and public spaces are flooded with easy-to-sell type of culture. There are some people that are working for their causes, but I would say, like isolated atoms in our society. So, we are trying to find a formula that would end with a reaction that would bring them together.
EIE: About two years ago the AKSC was closed. Now people are working on a AKSC 2.0. What were the reasons AKSC closed and will there be a differnce between AKSC 1.0 and AKSC 2.0?
Ana: We had to close it down because on one hand, there were some attacks on the space showing us that we are not very welcome anymore. I see this as a sign that our activities had an impact after all. On the other hand, we struggled with financial difficulties because the concept of donation is pretty new to us and many people can’t see that a donation was crucial to keeping it alive. But, a lesson lived is a lesson learned, so in the new space we would like to implement more ways of reaching financial stability, for example, making our own products or a small publishing project.
EIE: AKSC 2.0 will be created and maintained by the KoprivaKolektiv/The Nettle Collective. Can you tell us something about the collective?
Ana: This is a very new collective, but we carry an idea recycled from the experiences we’ve had the past 5-6 years with different collectives and organizations. I can say that we have experienced good and hard times, so this collective is trying to avoid the ways that didn’t work in the past and to take our horizon to a whole new level. Every member has his own artistic project and brings his personal touch in the group. For the first time, we are formally registered as an association for independent culture and we would like to act in every possible way – formal and informal, to experiment with ways of expression and to break the old patterns of functioning, even within activism itself. This Nettle will sting!
EIE: Can you already tell us what kind of activities will take place at AKSC in the future?
Ana: Similar like the first one, in this place people can come and do something that is not possible elsewhere, without the boring bureaucratic processes. Also, it will be more open for hanging out, socialization and a good place to meet a stranger with a cup of tea or find a good book to read. We welcome all kinds of wanderers, poets, artists and everyone who would like to share their talent and is ready to question the fabric of our reality! J Also, we would like to continue with more workshops and practical things and be less theoretical. Personal development is also a very important topic for us.
EIE: What are the main objectives of AKSC?
Ana: First of all, to offer a home for freedom-friendly ideas. We want to inspire people to take charge and responsibility for their lives, they choose the medium through which that process happens. We want to see people who no longer live automatically in pre-arranged schemes, but to be able to recognize, criticize and visualize what kind of life is close to their heart. We want to offer a space for creation of the new and destruction of the old. And in this process, we are not trying to be likeable or commercial. Quality before quantity!
EIE: Do you need support and when yes, how can people support the project?
Ana: We would really appreciate a helping hand! At the moment we are running a crowdfunding campaign on the platform Firefund, which is run by a very dedicated and a fantastic collective! Everyone who supports our ideas can help us by donating on the following link or simply by spreading the word J
AKSC 2.0 also has a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AKSC2/
Video about the AKSC (For English subtitles click at the first button on the right side at the bottom of the video player)
Enough is Enough