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Vienna´s weekly European journal

Women in Belgrade in the Spotlight of Culture

Archived article from: 
Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Women in Belgrade in the Spotlight of Culture

Danika Jovovic-Prodanovic
Danica Jovović-Prodanović: “Equality only exists up to a certain level”

This week as part of our series “Women in Top Positions in Art and Science“ we are taking a look beyond the Austrian border – to Belgrade where women in top positions are no longer such a rare phenomenon – at least in culture.

To to do a bit of in-depth research on this subject met up with Danica Jovović-Prodanović, the director of the Museum of the City of Belgrade, and engaged in a discussion on glass ceilings, financial equality and injustice on the home front.

In the Serbian capital the cultural sector is largely dependent on women. They have fought to achieve equality with regard to their positions but also when it comes to the good standing of culture in their country. Compared to other EU member states Serbia, however, has a much more limited budget. And in times of change and economic crisis, culture is traditionally hit by cuts. Thus the strong involvement of women in culture can also be seen as being exceptional – especially when it comes to women in top positions in Serbia.

new mueseum
Queen Marija Karadjordjevic
Paja Jovanović’s portrait of the Serbian queen Marija Karađorđević (1922), on display in the artist’s apartment

Equality up to a certain level
In order to find out more about the situation of women in contemporary Serbian culture we interviewed the director of the Museum of the City of Belgrade, Danica Jovović-Prodanović.
“At present women are at the top of numerous leading institutions in Belgrade,“ she stated when speaking with “Women run the Museum of Popular Art, The Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Ethnology, the Museum of Applied Art, the Museum of Science and Technology. But also in other cultural institutions they clad top positions as, for instance, in Belgrade’s Cultural Center, the Jugo Concert or in the Ilija Kolarac Foundation. And even the position of the state secretary of culture is held by a woman – Ivana Avžner “, as Jovović-Prodanović added.
Even though the presence of women in public agencies and institutions in Serbia is still very strong, our dialogue partner also pointed out there are still a number of problems related to their being fully recognized.
“I do, however, have the impression that in Serbia, as in other parts of the world, there is a sort of glass ceiling. This means that women are treated equally to a certain level, but that then their way to the top becomes more difficult and that you do not find women so often in the very top positions. All positions that I have mentioned are certainly important but they are not the absolute top ones.”
No discrimination in finding jobs
Whereas in many countries the financial inequality vis-a-vis women with regard to men can be felt, this is not the case in Serbia at least in the circles our discussion partner deals with.
“I, however, believe that you have to see the situation from another side as well, otherwise it might appear to be too ideal – and that is not the case,“ according to Jovović-Prodanović. “The Serbian and the former surrounding Yugoslavia to a large extent provided the possibility for equal education, degrees, equality in the workplace and suffrage. This was a result of rapid modernization and the changes that can be seen as positive effects of socialism. On the hand, the environment, the family remained very traditional. As a result, even today women have more tasks to perform in the family than men – and this in spite of the fact that they have jobs with a high level of responsibility. Equality is still far from existing everywhere. Ultimately everything I am speaking about applies to an urban setting. In the country the situation is a completely different one,“ as Danica Jovović-Prodanović reported.

archeological finds
Collection of clay figures dating from 6,000 B.C., on display in Princess Ljubica’s palace in Belgrade

“Perhaps culture is not at all interesting for men“
Discrimination that is directly experienced is something the museum director has not experienced yet and she has also not encountered any obstacles in her career.
“My impression is that the stronger presence of women began in the cultural scene after World War 2 and developed very spontaneously from then on“, as Jovović-Prodanović said. “Only in the last decade was there more discussion about concrete gender relations and closer look taken at the percentage of women in politics – where the number of women is actually smaller.“
The director of the Museum of the City of Belgrade has another good explanation to offer about the good status of women in culture.
“That might now sound a bit extreme to some but the reason fort he good standing of women in the cultural scene can also be found in the general status of culture. Culture might not be interesting for men but you have to take into account that only one percent of the national budget is allocated to culture. That says everything...“

Salon Ludwig XV
Danica Orodanovic
The historic, luxuriously furnished city centre apartment of Paja Jovanović, Serbia’s most famous painter; Danica Jovović-Prodanović

Until 2006 Belgrade was probably the only European metropolis without a museum building it could call its own. Only at the end of 2006 the Belgrade Municipal Council decided to locate a city museum in the building of the Military Academy. The building with a surface area of 8,500 sq.m. was constructed in 1889 and is presently being reconstructed. Due to the lack of facilities there is no permanent exhibition at the museum. The museum’s activities take place at venues located in the surroundings that are affiliated to the Museum of the City of Belgrade: the Palace of Princess Ljubica, the Museum of Paja Jovanović, the Museum of Ivo Andrić, the Museum of Jovan Cvijić, the Museum of Toma Rosandić,  the Museum of the Banjica camp,  the official Museum of Zemun, the Official Museum of Mladenovac.
The following collections are owned by the Museum of the City of Belgrade:
- the archeological collection: objects from the prehistorical age, the Roman and Byzantine period as well as the period of  mass migration
- the Middle Ages collection: objects from the period of Serbian independence and of the conquerors
- the Turkish collection: from the period of Turkish reign
- Gallery: paintings, sculptures and objects of applied art

Muzez grada Beograda
Zmaj Jovina 1
Tel: 2638-744, 2630-825, Fax: 3283-504
Opening hours: weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Museum of the City of Belgrade:

Museum of Applied Art
Belgrade Museum of Ethnology
Belgrad of Folklore Art
Belgrade Cultural Center
Museum of Science and Technology
Ilija Kolarac Foundation

Series of interviews with women leaders in art and science in Vienna...
part 1: Sabine Haag, Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Art History)
part 2: Elisabeth Menasse-Wiesbauer, ZOOM Children´s Museum
part 3: Gabriele Zuna-Kratky, Museum of Technology
part 4: Dagmar Schratter, Schönbrunn Zoo
part 5: Danielle Spera, Jewish Museum
part 6: Sylvia Mattl-Wurm, Wienbibliothek at Vienna´s City Hall
part 7: Agnes Husslein-Arco, Vienna Belvedere
part 8: Beatrix Patzak, Federal Pathologic-Anatomical Museum
part 9: Karola Kraus, MUMOK Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig
part 10: Sabine Folie, Generali Foundation
part 11: Ingried Brugger, Kunstforum & Gabriele Schor, Sammlung Verbund
part 12: Brigitte Rigele, Municipal and Provincial Archives
part 13: Johanna Rachinger, Austrian National Library
part 14: Margot Schindler, Austrian Museum of Folk Life and Folk Art
part 15: Sonja Hammerschmid, Vetmeduni Vienna
part 16: Maria Seissl, University of Vienna Library
part 17: Inge Scholz-Strasser, Sigmund Freud Museum Vienna
part 18: Sabine Seidler, Vienna University of Technology
part 19: Ilsebill Barta, Imperial Furniture & Silver Collection and Sisi Museum
part 20: Hedwig Saxenhuber, Viennafair

... and in our partner cities
part 1: Danica Jovović-Prodanović, Museum of the City of Belgrade
part 2: Sonja Penkova, National Museum of Military History, Sofia
part 3: Mária Schmidt, House of Terror, Budapest
part 4: Helena Koenigsmarková, Museum of Decorative Arts, Prague
part 5: Bojana Rogelj Škafar, Slovene Ethnographic Museum, Ljubljana
part 6: Maria Anna Potocka, Museum of Contemporary Art, Krakow
part 7: Amra Madžarević, Sarajevo Museum
part 8: Paula Popoiu, Village Museum "Dimitrie Gusti", Bucharest
part 9: Snježana Pintarić, Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb
part 10: Alexandra Kusá, Slovak National Gallery, Bratislava
part 11: Irina Alexandrovna Antonova, A. S. Pushkin Museum, Moscow

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