Posts Tagged ‘Slovenian television maker’

This in memoriam I published 5 years ago on Flickr… recently I wanted to point a friend to the article and picture, but the 700 or so articles on my Flickr site have been classified all as ‘adult material’ years ago for no good reason (some fool must have complained) at all… attempts to have that ban lifted did not work out as there seems to be only a kind of Kafkian censorship court run by robots with the shifting firms that own Flickr and I never got a human written reply on my complaints. So now I regularly move postings from Flickr to my own blog. This posting on my friend Jadran Sterle on Flickr had 6.121 views…


It was in July this year [2014] I heard of the unexpected death of Jadran Sterle… (1) as often is the case with the loss of a friend, it made me look for pictures of him, looking at them intensely, bringing back shared moments of the past… We first met in Bologna in 1988 during a festival on Radical Culture of the European countries bordering the Mediterranean. He was there as a journalist for Slovenian television, I was there to show an exhibition for an upcoming international meeting in Amsterdam the next year – Europe Against the Current. Jadran had been involved as a young man in what could be labelled as the ‘cultural underground of Ljubljana and soon we discovered we had all kind of experiences and friends in common… Jadran had met some of the Dutch Provos in the sixties, I knew a bit about opposition movements in Yugoslavia and so we had a long talk and remained friends since… I met him again a few years later at an anarchist conference in Triest and as the world is small I discovered in the early nineties that my new Yugoslav girlfriend – who became the mother of my daughter – was a close friend of Jadran for many years… I made this picture already in July for the family Jadran left behind, but the text that comes with it remained half finished… something held me back… and as those who have died are never in a hurry… it is two month later now, before I publish it here.


Two pictures of Jadran Sterle
as I want to remember him
taken 12 years ago
on the day he picked me up from what once was Tergeste,
never became Trst,
and is best known now as Trieste
– a market and harbour town in the shatterzone of kingdoms, republics and empires
Illyrean, Roman, Byzantine, Frankish, Venetian, Habsburg, Napoleonic, Austrian –
still a multi-ethnic city half a century ago
Italian and Slovenian as major languages…
… after the First Wolrd War taken over by Italy
theatre of Mussolini’s fascist rule
birthplace of Slovenian anti-fascist movement
a contested city after World War II where the new power blocks
were almost confronting each other
Allied Forces versus Tito’s Partisan Army.

Slovenian nationalists saw the city as retribution
for Italian, German and Croatian fascists regimes
that had devastated their lands
“Trst je naš” (Triest is ours)…
It remained just a Slovenian irridentist dream
as The Free Territory of Triest was created to avoid further war
and the conflict was solved by a diplomatic policy of procrestination
‘de facto’ after seven, ‘de jure’ after thirty years.

Instead of going directly to Jadran’s house in in the Slovenian village of Unec
– to the North-East, up the bleached Karst mountain at Opcina –
we drove southward along the coast to Istria
careleslsy joking about all the borders we had to pass
borders that split up the natural continuity
of coast and peninsula
Italian, Slovenian, Croatian.

On our way into Istria
Jadran told me about the meeting of those two partisan commanders
one Slovenian, the other Croatian both belonging to the Liberation Front lead by Tito
and how these two ‘communist internationalists’
were deliberating about ‘ethnic borders’
not from a military strategic viewpoint
but to establish a dividing line
where a “pure” Slovenian and a “pure” Croatian was spoken
where a border line between their territorial command needed to be drawn.

I have forgotten some of the details he gave, but
in my memory some fragments of his story linger on.
Was it about the map they used, turned the wrong way
or had one, or both of the partisans, drank too much
that day in February 1944 in the village of Malija?
I tried to find his story back in all those
historical sources, now available on the internet
but did not find any of Jadran’s salient details
only how it ended up:
the East/West running river Dragonje became the border
while – linguistically speaking –
also the river Mirna could have been chosen
twenty or so kilometer more to the South.
Like in the rest of the litoral of South-East Europe
another border marked by mountains and rivers
was added to those created by swaying forces over millennia
seeking to establish their own power base
constructing and inventing national ‘identities’ to cement it
from Danube and Sava, to Drina and Drava.

We went land inward on our way
to what is jokingy called “the smallest city of the world”
the medieval fortified hill top city of Hum
with it’s 17 official inhabitants.
Just before arriving there – on the slope of a hill –
we got out of the car
to admire an exceptional historical monument.
A monument for a script
the old cyrillic script
– that travelled over a milennium ago
from Moravia down to the Adriatic coast –
named Glagolitic Script
after the Slavic word for ‘utterance’
– a script that often is proposed to be
the bedrock of Croatian culture.

There had been a heavy rain just before
and in the wet grass
stood all those Glagolitic letters
with monumental proportions
sculpted in stone.
There was also a round table
with four square stone stools
the table top engraved with something
that looked like a celestial scheme.

Jadran standing there like a ‘geomancer’
explaining me past and present
alluding to the recent history of this monument
only erected a few decades ago
a hidden Croatian call
for the break-up of this part of Yugoslavia
a cultural construct Ex Post Facto.

As we drove on
he marked me all those other ‘genius loci’
in the Istrian Karst landscape
with its underground waterways and histories.
Thus we both became time travellers
as his stories also gave a glimpse
of a different future that had failed to come.

Today, looking once more at the photographs I took
with Jadran standing in the field with stone letters
I see in the distance – very small –
the Glagolitic letter ‘L’
the ‘L’ for Ljudi, Ljudje
Croatian or Slovenian for ‘People’.
Build up from two high stones
standing apart to fit the height and width of a man
on top a shorter heavy stone, in fragile balance.

I remember now how it looked to me then
like a gate, “a gate to heaven”
a man made arch one has to pass through
to go to an other world.

Jadran Sterle died on July 17th 2014.

(1) “Farewell to the Adriatic Sterle, cosmopolitan, who swam against the tide Funeral book on TV Slovenia July 18, 2014 at 11:39, last intervention: July 18, 2014 at 18:00 Ljubljana – Reuters He died director Jadran Sterle (1949), a longtime associate of RTV Slovenia, philosopher, journalist, writer, author of numerous documentaries on the littoral cultural heritage and translator. Predlani are Sterle Val 202 hosted the show Sunday guest. In the interview he looked at his translation work, home library and home garden on the crops on which he was very proud. Neanderthal flute, the oldest bike in the Karst chalet in the Karst School under fascism … It’s only a few titles a rich oeuvre of documentaries and films journalist and writer Adriatic Sterle, who was convinced that it would be better to appreciate the past and its traditions you should be proud of the oldest needle, first bike, a Neanderthal flute and shepherd’s house. Sunday’s guest submission to the Adriatic ”

Machine translation from the introduction sentences of the memorial web page on Slovenian Television for Jadran Sterle: www.rtvslo.si/kultura/film/slovo-jadrana-sterleta-svetovl…

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