Community of small local businesses (Novi Sad, Serbia)
Feb 28, 2023

In front of the shop window, Novi Sad 2022

During the first phase of the research of the space and the communities that use it, we saw a large number of small local businesses, which are family businesses and make up one large community of Novo Naselje. These jobs are generally the only source of financial income for these families.

Every entrepreneur encounters a problem with minimal, but sometimes insufficient product sales, and they find themselves in an unfavourable position, both from the side of maintaining the business, and from the side of maintaining and supporting their families. Also, this situation certainly affects the lack of funds for business promotion and a suitable visual identity of the shop. The most interesting thing about this community is that they know each other very little, but if this were to change, they could learn various useful and necessary things about each other that would make their business easier.

After talking with several entrepreneurs, our work focused on a small grocery store and we spent time with the owner Ceca, who runs the business, and other family members help her.

In addition to the fact that at Ceca’s we can buy everything we need for our daily meals, Ceca is our neighbor with whom we can exchange thoughts, difficulties, she brightens our day with her kindness. The Delfin store also overlooks the children’s playground, and Ceca takes care of the children playing in front every day and gives them sweets and water to take a break.

Title of the “Magic Carpets” project

Newly(uN)discovered spaces – In front of the shop windows

In the society we live in, we are used to the fact that we have to protect ourselves and that our struggle for the life we strive for means that we often do not trust others and that others wish us well. Loneliness and withdrawal into one’s comfort zone are the consequence of this narrative, and the story of community, unity, and harmony remain in the vague past written in the history of the country of Yugoslavia and in the words of our grandparents who speak of some kind of utopian oasis.

All members of our community of small entrepreneurs often looked back on this beautiful period of their lives. This community is made up of middle-aged people, and the good memories and times they remember come from their adolescent years. They rely on this kind of past every day and want the principles of community among neighbors and the way people treat each other, as they remember from this period, to return again.

While spending time with Ceca, we talked about the difficulties she faces every day through her work, and of which there are many. Hypermarket chains are the main obstacle for the success of small businesses, because as she says, they cannot fight with their discounts and differences in the price of purchasing products in bulk.

Through the artistic work In front of the shop windows, Milica offered the Delfin shop a new visual identity of the shop windows and attracted the attention of new customers, and with the video work, which is a combination of collage animation and everyday life of Novo Naselje, she played an authentic advertisement that moderately indicates the qualities of a small neighborhood shop, ironically using the hypermarket narrative. In addition, with the digital collages that are exhibited in the store and in front of it, in a unique way, she showed the daily life of the residents of Novo Naselje through the eyes of local entrepreneurs, inspired by Yugoslavia, as a concept that appeared as a topic in every conversation they had. Ceca confirmed that during the period in which the works were exhibited in the store and in front of it, the sale of the products doubled.

After the final event where the focus was on the Delfin store, we continued working with several other businesses during the film festival. Namely, we staged reruns of short film selections in the Mile hair salon and Darwin veterinary practice. We installed the screens so that while waiting in the waiting room, people can spend their time in a better and more interesting way. With this approach, mutual benefit is also realized, art gets a new audience, while entrepreneurs get new customers.

Number of community members included in the project: 6

Reasons for participating in the “Magic Carpets” project: The main motive of small entrepreneurs to participate in the project is the desire for change, to meet each other and build community. There are many things that pose a problem for them in running their business, but as a community they could solve most of the problems by learning from each other.

In our further work, we plan to strengthen ties with other entrepreneurs who were not so involved in this project, but also to continue nurturing the ties we made during this year’s residency. Through further activities of the organization in co-creation with all entrepreneurs, we plan to organize business presentations, and as the community has a large number of trades, their live presentation. Also, we will continue to transform these spaces into galleries and examine the ways in which art can connect with fields that are not related to it and with artworks to make the daily tasks and idle time waiting for services more interesting and inspiring.


For further information please contact Novo Kulturno Naselje ([email protected])