Offering a thorough humanistic insight into the daily lives of people from all around Africa, Bantustan reads as a gutsy travel adventure told against the backdrop of a painfully candid autobiography. Or was it the other way round, with the trip being just a narrative device for delivering a deeply personal story? Without question, the most original and creative travel journal I’ve ever seen. – Amazon Review
BANTUSTAN is an illustrated travel journal, novel, atlas and encyclopedia. It is at once a textbook for independent travel in Africa, an illustrated atlas, a collection of life stories, an intimate confession, a list of little secrets and shame. Relying heavily on hitchhiking and couchsurfing, three friends travel from Serbia across Bulgaria, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda D.R. Congo, Zambia and Namibia, talking to people and documenting their adventures in a travel blog, which served as raw material for this book.
With a collection of maps, infographics and data visualizations for non-linear reading, BANTUSTAN is an example of ergodic, interactive literature. Readers can choose how to move through the book: in the traditional linear fashion, or using the maps as visual interfaces for skipping from one story to another. The maps represent a tapestry of pictograms, ideograms, scripts, labyrinths, emblems, motifs, secret messages and hidden clues for the reader to discover and decipher.
Bantustans were reservations for Black Africans set up by the apartheid regime; in this book, bantustans refer to the bubbles in which we all live our lives. The three protagonists, as well as the people they encounter along the way, are constantly struggling to escape these multi-layered bubbles – of ego, family, social circle, class, race, religion, ethnicity, language, nationality etc – and establish contact with the rest of the world. While writing this book, we drew on our experience of growing up in Yugoslavia before, during and after its breakup; we had watched a complex multi-ethnic country sink into violence fueled by identity politics, resulting in the creation of multiple nation-states, devastated, impoverished and locked in permanent cold wars. Throughout our journey, we repeatedly encountered eerily familiar social and political narratives – the invisible machinery for shredding the world into bantustans.
BANTUSTAN contains a total of 32 full-page illustrations (19 of which are hand-drawn maps), as well as 25 smaller illustrations/glyphs.
About the Authors
Lazar Pascanovic was born in 1981. In early 2005 he started The Travel Club, a community of travelers, explorers and creators founded on the ideas of free sharing, free movement, and building personal connections with the world. He has visited 50+ countries, lived on 3 continents, hitchhiked tens of thousands of kilometers, and is capable of fairly fluent miscommunication in five languages. He has worked as a translator, interpreter, journalist, web developer, teacher, farmer and writer.
Apart from Bantustan, he has co-authored, edited and published two collections of travel prose. His latest book, the dystopian novel Spam, was released in late 2020. At the moment, Bantustan is his only book available in English, hopefully with more to come.
Uroš Kradinac (b. 1984) is a Belgrade-based writer, artist, technologist, and educator.
His work has been shown at festivals and conferences in Europe, Asia, and North America, such as re:publica, International Digital Media and Arts Association Conference, Plan D, Designer – Author or Universal Soldier, as well as Art + Science organized by the Serbian CPN. His academic research was published in scientific journals including IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing and IEEE Transaction on Human-Machine Systems. He exhibited his artworks at Vancouver’s Emily Carr University Gallery, Belgrade’s Museum of Applied Art, Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts Gallery, and Pan?evo’s Gallery of Contemporary Art. His projects were covered by Creative Review, Vizkultura, and VisualComplexity, and awarded by iDMAa, University of Belgrade, Belgrade Chamber of Commerce, and Belgrade Documentary and Short Film Festival.
As an educator and regular public speaker, he gave 100+ public talks, lectures, and workshops on various occasions, including three TEDx events in Serbia and Croatia, a talk about physical data art at re:publica Festival at Thessaloniki’s MOMus, a lecture on generative systems at Vancouver’s School of Interactive Arts + Technologies, SFU, a talk about affective computing at Guangzhou’s South China Normal University, a lecture on AI aesthetics at Belgrade’s Museum of Science and Technology, a discussion on new media at Belgrade’s Salon of the Museum of Contemporary Art, and many other talks about digital art, writing, creative coding, mapmaking, and travel culture, including ones at SKC Belgrade, Booksa Zagreb, and Kriterion Sarajevo.
He holds a PhD in Informatics from the University of Belgrade.
Currently, he works as an Assistant Professor of Digital Art and Computing at the Faculty of Media and Communications, Singidunum University, Belgrade. He also works as a Design Seminar Senior Associate at Petnica Science Center and a Visiting Lecturer and Research Associate at the Good Old AI Lab, University of Belgrade.