This is turbo folk 2.0

Watch the Balkan queens of trash – Ceca, Seka and JK glitched-up like never before. It’s all an art project, of course

Ceca: turbo folk’s greatest star and a vowel-firing machine / Video capture

Berlin-based Macedonian artist Marija Bozinovska Jones explores the multiplicity of meanings inscribed in ex Yugoslavia’s “deadliest” cultural artefact – the infamous music genre of turbo folk along with the associated Balkan working-class diaspora in western Europe – through some smart treatment of sound and iconography.

Bozinovska Jones’ art practice revolves around “byproducts of transitional societies in form of cultural artefacts and aesthetical glitches” which she then ties up in connection to the ubiquitous media of Internet. The Central St Martins graduate plays around with the cut/paste technique of visual and sound arts to achieve an effect that is at the same time familiar and bizarre.

Take Ceca’s vowels, for instance:

Internet Vovels IO Ceca from Bozinovska Jones on Vimeo.

“The immigrant gastarbeiter former Yugoslav community lives parallelly with the rest in their adopted motherlands across western Europe and further”, the artist explains. “In most cases not successfully integrating, this invisible ghettoized segment of society searches for a collective sense of belonging through its shared taste for sentimental music performed by scantily clad women. The internet and its plethora of social networks serves as an ideal platform to unite ex Yugoslavs from diverse ethnic backgrounds – once at war against each other – through the high octane turbofolk sounds, offering Yugo nostalgia.”

The sound of Seka:

SEKA – Internet mix from Bozinovska Jones on Vimeo.

In such a context, Folkoteka 2.0 as “a multilayered portrayal of the phenomenon of turbofolk” takes form of an educational media library “helping the international audience to grasp the politicized music genre from the Balkans. The footage library consists of web videos and other material uploaded by its fan base in various forms: mobile phone recordings during live shows, VHS recordings of TV studio appearances uploaded online, living room reinterpretations of favorite songs, as well as translations of song lyrics into english, in most cases rather unsuccessful.”

Ding-dong, sing-along:

FOLKOTEKA 2.0 – Net Karaoke 1 from Bozinovska Jones on Vimeo.

The project is divided in two spatial and contextual entities: “One presents altars dedicated to the three turbofolk dieties: Ceca, Seka and Jelena Karleusa with its video-mixes: ‘Internet Vowels’, ‘Internet Mix’ and ‘JK Txt’.”

The second part consists of a karaoke booth, “deciphering songs’ lyrics into English though borrowing turbo folk fans’ translations and online identities (DJ Shemo, Goran 021, Seksi Biznismen, Bosanka 084 etc) thus offering more intimate and transnational way of introduction to the musical and lyrical values.”

As Bozinovska Jones explains, “adding to the absurdity, ‘Folkoteka 2.0’ was produced during a residency in Buenos Aires, where I likewise discovered a local ‘turbofolk’ versions in South American mass culture entertainment.

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