my bio.zeljko.blace & cv.zeljko.blace & splash.resume >> full art.culture.resume + +

Željko Blaće


 home: Kneza Višeslava #3/5, 10 000 Zagreb CROATIA
 office: [mi2] Preradovićeva 18, 10 000 Zagreb CROATIA
 m: +385913358120 
 gmail: zblace
 skype: zblace
I am a freelancer multi-disciplinary working across several fields and contexts.
My background is in culture and arts/design, my work is mostly in sport and media. 
Early interest for art, media, technology and sport developed in past decades
from graphics and design, to on-line publishing and video production, 
management work in organizing events, curating exhibitions and cultural reporting.
I worked as an academic researcher in arts/design and now independently.



Being from region of western Balkans 
(former Socialist, war thorned countries, with new national "democracies") 
I am well aware of importance of identity articulation and it's limitations, 
especially so for LGBTQ population in generally homophobic environment...

My academic background is in visual art 
but my early work was in a social/cultural context of digital arts and critical media culture. 
As one of the founders of Multimedia Institute in Zagreb and 
it's public space net.culture club MaMa 
(a center for indy/tech/queer subcultures), 
I worked as designer, educator, cultural producer and part-time journalist, reporter, 
and editor for different Croatian and international media. 
I worked as junior researcher at Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht.
Now doing PhD in The University of Leiden and The Royal Academy in the Hague
on the topic of QueerSport - tensions between sport normativity and queer  expression.

2 ENGAGEMENT in the field of LGBTQ Sport

2.1 retrospecting past

Since 2002 (first Pride event in Zagreb) I was involved on and off in activism 
and later more in LGBTQ social aspects of it. 
I co-founded with Karmen Ratkovic (plus a few other individuals) 
qSPORT – an initiative for Queer athletes and sport enthusiasts. 
In 2006 and 2007 this became one of the biggest regional LGBTQ social initiatives 
and engaged a number of (closeted) people for the first time 
both with other LGBTQ individuals and "community at large".

For me qSPORT was always an experiment and challenge 
to build up the social sculpture and cultural entity to the level of self-sustainability, 
but was also a process of self-reflection and pro-active engagement with multiple environments. 
In practice this meant making people (who avoid political/social engagement) 
to at least meet others in temporary and queer "safe space" and 
deal with issues of identity and it's articulation.

Since 2002 my involvement in international LGBTQ sport organizations 
(Federation of Gay Games, Gay and Lesbian International Sport Association, 
European Gay and Lesbian Sport Federation, and many other clubs/teams/initiatives) 
evolved from me as confused outsider to euphoric networker/organizer 
to bitter critic of institutionalization recently a proactive researcher and "reformist".

To my disappointment a great deal of LGBTQ people in int. sport organizations 
have lost touch with political/cultural aspects of gay sport movement 
and it's pioneers from early 80ties. 
Most prominent people end up being administrators of institutionalization processes 
without ambition, capacity or greater political/social agenda/perspective. 
Self reflection and criticism have been often replaced by inertia and commodification. 
In addition to that mainstreaming through processes of normalization tends 
to lead LGBTQ sport enthusiasts to reduce their identity to mere consumers 
in niche market of sport&recreation services and goods for homosexual population 
(which is also still in it's infancy and under-capacitated).


My work in this field was/is comprised of:
- promoting Queer approach in sport development, 
- management and programming of LGBTQ sport events and organizations 
- experimenting with notions of queer identity and approaches in sport and physical culture by working with artists, designers 
and other creatives who think/work beyond limitations
- networking and confronting like-minded and opposing perspectives across different disciplines and contexts of sport and the greater LGBTQ community 
- supporting closeted/asocial LGBTQ individuals to feel secure and safe in social environment of other LGBTQ and friends through team sport participation and related activities
- informing mainstream sport professionals of existence of LGBTQ sport initiatives as safe islands in homophobic society, as well as making them aware of strong homophobia in mainstream sport
- instigating LGBTQ Sport organizations to do outreach and other support programs with greater international community (especially Eastern Europe) in need of (financial/political/social) outreach/development support
- advocating to LGBTQ Founders to be more sensitive to the community building processes - from their usual policy/advocacy support
- sensitizing LGBTQ Political organizations to the social impact of sport and recreation as a method of community building
- informing LGBTQ media on necessity to cover field of LGBTQ sport beyond fetishising/objectifying athletic looks and promoting leisure culture

continuous interdisciplinary Research.QueerSport (2005-ongoing)
one-off Workshop.QueerSport & Presentation.QueerSport (several events during 2009)
exhibiting and publishing project QueerSportEXPOSED (plans since 2008, production for 2010)

As an experienced athlete in several sports, organizer/project-manager/fund raiser, educator/trainer and activist/promoter I am from time to time asked for consultation work in different LGBTQ contexts. I am well informed of organizations all across Europe and partially in North America (NY, California, Canada...)
3.1.1 institutions/organizations: My experience in working in/with grass-root organizations and international bodies (Federations/Assotiations) is valuable resource for both sides of scales (very local to global).
3.1.2 events/activities As an athlete I participated in Outgames, Eurogames, international and regional tournaments, as well as 3 different national volleyball leagues. As representative/delegate I took part in work of international organizations (primarily EGLSF, FGG and GLISA) since 2003 till now. As an organizer in Croatia I developed training/education workshops and cultural events with local/regional participants and international guests.
3.1.3 projects/programs: As cultural manager, educator/trainer and social/media activist I developed and deployed several short term projects (like IT and media trainings for regional queer activists) and a number of long term development programs (development of qSPORT initiative from handful of members to biggest LGBT initiative in the region in 2 years). This work included most of the task from the concept development and fund-raising to executive/managing and administrative work.
3.1.4 research: I am continuously researching the issues of Queer Culture, Outreach, Media and Sport. I am currently developing research for academic field in area of Queer Sport.