“When you need a favor around here, just ask a neighbor if he knows someone who can help you, and they’ll tell you everything. If my car broke down right now, people on the street would help me right away. We’re very communicative. That’s it. Who and what you are is not important, we being a gang is what’s important.”
A movie cameraman and photographer, Stanko Herceg is one of those who got Martićeva deep under their skin, so deep that it inspires him, as in his everyday habits, so in his artistic work. We sat for a coffee in Divas to hear his story.
Stanko Herceg: I’ve been in Martićeva Street for 12 years, but I lived in the neighborhood before that as well, although a bit further away. I’m originally from Trešnjevka, but I came here because this is the city center and it’s easy to live here, and on top of that, it’s a neighborhood in the full sense of that word. Once you cross Draškovićeva Street to the west, there aren’t neighborhoods there, people living there don’t even know each other, while here, we all do. The main advantage of the neighborhood is our neighbor community. My friend lives nearby, in Mrazovićeva Street, he doesn’t have a clue about who his first neighbor is. Here, I know the names of the bartenders, shopkeepers, hairdressers, restaurant owners… You can go out in a sweat suit here, no problem. This is a neighborhood that lives as a small oasis in Zagreb’s downtown. That’s why I like it.
On the other hand, as I have three daughters, what’s also important is providing an easy life for them – here, they’ve got everything available, schools and extracurricular activities, sports, dancing, etc… Everything is within a 5 minute walking distance from here. The neighborhood on its own fascinates and inspires me. Last year, I set up a large exhibition in Klovićevi Dvori dedicated to the neighborhood, called “The View from the Window”. Namely, I began taking photos from my window in Martićeva, even though I came down to the street after a while as well, of course. It was a set of photographs made exclusively in the neighborhood, from Draškovićeva to Kvatrić Square.
— As a great lover of motorbikes and biking culture, Stanko had no problem with Martićeva’s previous direction. However, even though he remembers the old days with some nostalgia, he realizes all the advantages of the street’s contemporary identity, and enjoys them.
SH: When I came here, Martićeva was a street of car parts and motors. It’s always been a meeting place for biker freaks, big shots with cars, they found it cool. Guys drove around, girls were always nearby… But, even in my time did this scene start to fall off, even though the Motor Federation is still there, while the shops moved to the city outskirts. I’ve always thought that Martićeva should be like one of those streets in Berlin, with fine cafés, various art galleries… And this began gradually realizing itself with the appearance of the Croatian Design Superstore, Gallery 3.14, and other places… I even wanted to open my own gallery here, however, I couldn’t realize it without the necessary funds.
— After all, what is specific for this neighborhood are the people that live here, and they make up an uncommon, unconventional community that actively works on the refinement of their own living space.
SH: A lot of artists live here: filmmakers, designers, painters, sculptors, I mean… I don’t know why, but that’s how it is. We all see each other every day. In the fall of every year, we organize Tomašićeva Street to be closed for traffic for one day, and throw a street party. Cafés sell cheap booze, the ambassador neighbor hires a live band, we fool around on the park benches, and get to know those we don’t. I mean, where else can you find that?