Bantustan Interactive Atlas
is a digital commentary of illustrated maps created by Uroš Krčadinac for the travel novel Bantustan: Atlas of an African Journey.
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In 2010 Lazar Pašćanović, Marko Đedović and Uroš Krčadinac, 3 authors from the Balkans, spent 3 months travelling through Africa.
It was a low-budget hitchhiking journey across Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Congo, Tanzania, Zambia, and Namibia.
By changing their lives, the adventure turned into a documentary, literary, and artistic project.
In 2015 they published a travel novel in Serbocroatian. In 2021, they published it in English. Books were published by The Travel Club, the main Balkan hub for independent travelers and travel writers, via crowdfunding campaigns.
At once a travel novel, an illustrated atlas, a collection of life stories, an intimate confession, Bantustan is a story of division, isolation, contact, and imagining new cartographies of human relationships on a shared globe.
Including a series of hand-illustrated maps, infographics, and data visualizations for non-linear reading, Bantustan is an example of ergodic and interactive literature.
Readers can choose how to read the book: in a traditional linear fashion or using maps as visual interfaces for jumping from one story to another. All maps and visuals have been drawn by Uroš Krčadinac, meticulously, by hand, using a digital drawing tablet.
Maps represent a tapestry of pictograms, ideograms, different writing systems, coats of arms, labyrinths, secret messages, and other hidden symbols for readers to discover and decypher. The drawing process lasted a year and a half.
This interactive atlas is devoted to deshiphering all symbols and stories hidden in Uroš's maps.
The term bantustan, with its apartheid undertone and its post-Yugoslav connotation, is used as a symbol of both personal and collective segregation and isolation.
Bantustans were reservations for Black Africans set up by the racist 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.
Such attempts are often painful and sometimes downright disastrous, leading to a series of conflicts, crises and disappointments, but ultimately confirming the possibilities and importance of human connections.
Written in 3 separate voices, Bantustan is also an example of a collaborative writing project.
Each chapter is composed of stories marked by U, M, and L, respectively written by Uroš, Marko, and Lazar. For example, if a story is called 1M, it means it is the first story in a chapter and it was written by Marko.