Balkan Pank is an original view of ex-Jugoslavia counterculture during the 1979-89 decade, an underrepresented period of punk attitude without the uniform in a non-aligned Communist country, a group of people escaping a dictatorship through their own set of rules. Jože Suhadolnik started this project when he was 13 year old. He was an insider of the 80s punk and squat movement and also an extremely promising young photojournalist, drawn to counterculture, alternative ways of living and genuine rebellion, his curiosity lead us to the hidden corners of in underground labyrinthic squats and illegal gigs where he started documenting the vibrant energy of the nights when bands with names like The Bastards and VideoSex used to play.
Balkan Pank is an account of the 80s Jugoslavian no-futures, wasted nights and intimate portraits, raw, fun, unkempt, grainy, screaming just as the real thing.
Jože Suhadolnik speaks:
“Actually I wanted to be a comic book artist, but the process of drawing was too slow for me. At that time, in 1979, I discovered Henri Cartier Bresson and Josef Koudelka. It was a real revelation. Also, I was part of everything that smelt rebellious; the punk movement was an excellent school for a 13-year-old wannabe photographer. It now seems quaint how we felt back then, when we used to travel from what was then Yugoslavia twice a year to Trieste on the Italian border to buy jeans, Brooklyn chewing gum and 20 rolls of Tri-X (they were worth an absolute fortune and lasted at least a few months), and a Yugoslav custom officer stopped you at the border and humiliated you for the next hour.
I’ve been to about 1,600 concerts on my count; there is lot to see, sure, but I am really oversaturated with concerts. At my first, Siouxsie and the Banshees in 1981, I was able to walk near Siouxsie on the stage! Can you imagine that today? On the other hand, people were arrested just for wearing a Sex Pistols badge.
Nevertheless, from today’s point of view growing up in Communist Yugoslavia was good. Everybody had a job and social security. We could travel around the world and newspapers and magazines were willing to pay you to do just that.” ✪