Tag Archives: sarajevo

The war is over…

Last week I was in Sarajevo and visited an exhibition opening in gallery Duplex 100m2. The exhibition was great, but I caught this corner in a side room, a painting and poster showing Radenko Milak‘s work, and another wall object. It says: “The war is over! Let’s go to Venice.” Somewhat blurry images, which made my thoughts sharp.

Well, is it? And if yes, what war? As Venice Biennale is indeed celebrating world’s differences and joint life ahead (its slogan being “All the world’s future”), I can’t help thinking about all wars that are currently taking place, world’s past and the future that seems more complicated and blurry as never.


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Skyscrapers: in and out

I’ve been recently in Chicago – a city with certainly some of the most beautiful high-rise buildings in the world. These buildings have later inspired the cities and architects around North America to compete more creative, more theme oriented and unusual in their next project. Museum of Contemporary Art has organized a fantastic exhibition on skyscrapers, showing them from inside out: what it means not only for citizens as part of the skyline but also for their inhabitants. Moreover, what skyscrapers meant for society, their construction and, sometimes, deconstructions. Last but not least, all those emotions that those skyscrapers involve have been also touched upon and often on display.


Roy Ethridge, “Tokyo 2”

What a fantastic shot! Roy Ethridge captured romance of this world by striking the upward rising Tokyo with a sharp ray of light and rainbow in one and focusing not only on metropolitan urbanism of the city but also on its lucky charm of modernity.


Peter Wegner, “Buildings Made of Sky, VI”

Another interesting photography: Wegner shows the obvious here with non-obvious means. Long city boulevards, elongated upending buildings and gloomy sunset – he surrealistically ‘creates structures where none seem to exist’.


Jan Tichy, “Installation No. 3”

The image here does not do the work its justice: the light projection right on the fragile paper structure is further translated on the wall, so that the installation is a constant play of light and shadow. Reminds a lot on works of Sol LeWitt.


Kader Attia, “Untitled (skyline)”

What you see here are refrigerators,  which have been altered by simple mirrors. This work symbolizes ‘a yearning for the glamour of the metropolis’, but also shows how this urbanity can be easily improvised and approximated.


Ahmet Ögüt, “Exploded City”

Ahmet Ögüt shows here an imaginary metropolis, comprised of building that have been destroyed in an act of destruction, conflict or war. He shows them in the shape as they used to exist, disregarding the geography and placing them all together (this above is only a table explaining the background). Through this installation, the artist is playing with personal stories and emotions, the meaning of building and their destructions as well as the role of mass media.


Jonathan Horowitz, “Recycling Sculpture (World Trade Center Memorial)”

What you see behind Ögür’s model of Vijecnica in Sarajevo (“Exploded City”) is an everchanging sculpture representing World Trade Center towers. Every day the newspapers are placed and the ‘towers’ are rising; once the newspapers fill rectangular forms, they are removed for recycling. In this way, the artist plays with idea of constant change and rise and fall patterns.

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Sarajevo impressions: spikes, mothers and canned beef

I spent recently a beautiful week in Sarajevo. The city was pretty as always (or maybe even prettier): warm, sunny and full of good-mood people. Its artistic articulation took my attention in another area and I have seen rather the opposite.

I have seen the “Spiked” exhibition by young artist Daniel Premec, who is with his 12 aluminum spikes symbolically reflecting on difficulties in Bosnian everyday life but also artistic and cultural one; what all people have to go through in order to stay on the surface.

Daniel Premec, “Spiked”, 2012

I have not seen the photography exhibition “Majke” of two Polish artists, Monika Redzisz i Monika Berežecka, which focused on gender questions, sexual identity, gender equality and stereotypes, feminist ideas, transsexual and intersexual topics. I did see the poster and I found it to be just the right one.

Monika Redzisz i Monika Berežecka, “Matki / Majke”, 2012

… and now a ‘classic’: International Community monument, a over-dimensional canned beef by Nebojsa Seric Shoba, that fed the people of Sarajevo during the war-time. In the meantime, the ‘can’ became one of the favorite landmarks of locals. According to artist, this was a can with “never-confirmed content, expiration date, country of origin, (…) did not have anything better”.

“Monument to the International Community by the grateful citizens of Sarajevo”, 2007

“Monument to the International Community by the grateful citizens of Sarajevo”, 2007

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Bild gegen Bild

In my last post, I have touched upon this exhibition. Yes, I think that curators of the exhibition did a fantastic job by showing how media coverage of conflicts around the world forms our awareness and opinion, how different channels reflect those conflict events but also how we (or artists in the exhibition) react on media images and combine them with our encounters.

Radenko Milak, “What Else Did You See? I Couldn’t See Everything”, 2010-2012; Source: milak.net


I will be biased here and spend more space for three Bosnian artists. Not only that they fascinated me with their way of showing events that we all in Bosnia went through (and is painful to remember them, no matter which time distance is there in the meantime), but these artists instantly raised interests of various art collectors and media in Germany and world. Cover page of tomorrow’s Süddeutsche Zeitung‘s ‘Feuilleton’ was devoted to a largest deal to them. And who are they? They are: Radenko Milek, young painter from Banja Luka, who amplifies the Ron Haviv‘s war photography that maybe in a most correct way describes what really happened in aggression on Bosnia and Herzegovina through series of black&white paintings. (Arkan’s soldier with cigarette in his hand and sunglasses hitting dead female bodies on the pavements: how would you feel painting this image over and over again?).

Radenko Milak, “What Else did you See? I couldn’t See Everything”, 2010 – 2012; Source: nytimes.com


Another one is Adela Jusic, video and performance artist, who is showing a hand drawing a red circle on a white surface while listening her reading the diary entries. In the end, with ‘December 3, 1992’, it is clear: we see the photo of her father, a sniper, who has been killed by a sniper. Her demystified and unbiased approach to the conflict, trying to show no sentiments and heroic images to this personal story, is what artistically augments this complex situation.

Adela Jusic, “The Sniper”, 2007; Source: hausderkunst.de


Third one is Jasmila Zbanic, already established name in cinematography. In the film, “Was uns bleibt sind unsure Bilder (Images from the Corner)” from 2003, she is searching from her long lost friend and also discovers, through this visual and verbal journey, that image is never what it really happened but what a photographer chose to frame.

Other artists that bought my attention were Lebanese artist Roy Samaha with his depiction of Arab Spring, Alfredo Jaar with his raw and honest cry, Thomas Ruff, Trevor Paglen and scientific search for what is unknown, secret and hidden, just to name few. Two-day symposium has been organized to follow the exhibition and many of the artists and most prominent names and researchers in the field participated in the discussions. Haus der Kunst curators and Okwui Enwezor did fantastic job again.

The exhibition can be seen in Haus der Kunst until September 16.

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Picasso on Neretva

While I am still on topic: as I was last week home in Bosnia, I spent several evenings just chatting with my parents and keeping it low. One evening we came to the topic (now don’t ask me how) of then famous movie “The Battle of Neretva” from 1969.  Although a subtle part of communist propaganda, especially portraying partizans in heroic endeavors and leader’s mastermind behind the strategy, the movie itself was internationally  very well accepted and even nominated for best foreign movie at Oscars. Some international stars at that time played in the movie, such as  Orson Welles, Franco Nero and Yul Brynner, and budget was obviously available. Back home, whole nation loved it, watched it numerous times and is still part of national heritage.

While my parents remembered their own perceptions of the movie, my dad mentioned that –listen this – then very well-known, established and already internationally proclaimed artist Pablo Picasso was asked to make a poster for the movie. He apparently accepted, but then when he was asked how much it would cost, he answered that a cast of best local wines would do. … and this is how he made a special poster, which was printed in only 80 editions.

Hearing this story for the first time, my suspicious face had expression ‘are you for real’  but apparently my dad was – and after checking it out online, here is this beauty. I love it – hope you too!

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On being sad

Last week I was in Sarajevo and my time there was spent in remembrance on aggression on my country. April 6th was 20-year anniversary of the longest siege and many world media have reported on this.

I am not about to write about historical facts on this; they can be found elsewhere. I can just say that it made me feel extremely sad, deceived, disappointed and played out. This is how I felt then, being 10 years old and this is how I feel even more now, as a grown up. Nevertheless, it also gives you a strange feeling of being proud, more about those who have been killed for Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also of us. We are still here.

the white ribbon says that these are for employees for Bosnian Railways

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Jannis Kounellis – now and back then

On advise of a good friend of mine from Nusser Baumgart gallery in Munich, I have visited recently Kolumba art museum in Cologne. First impression was amazing: an art museum from 1853, in possession of Archdiocese of Cologne and built on the site of the former romanesque St. Columba church, rebuilt in 2003-2007 by Peter Zumthor. The ground floor chapel “Madonna of the Ruins” looks like this:

Kolumba Museum, "Madonna of the Ruins"

The art collection is an impressive one. My personal highlight war Jannis Kounellis’ Tragedia civile (1975).

Source: monopol-magazine.de

As described in museum material, “A worn coat and a hat are hanging on a coat-stand, everyday objects which are reminiscent of the past epoch of the bourgeois world of coffeehouses. Reminding us of the golden mosaics in sacred rooms from past centuries, the golden wall gives rise to positive ideas: of hope, of a utopia which is not defined at greater detail and which – however uncertain – forms the background and mirror of human action. Jannis Jounellis, who only entitled few of his works, named this one Tragedia Civil, thus making the viewers perceive even more the installation as a picture of the theatre of the world.”

Another reason that I got touched with this piece was because it brought me back to my high school days and I become nostalgic of those old days. I remember coming across Jannis Kounellis back when I was 16 or so in my early days of discovering contemporary art. He had a great exhibition in Sarajevo and I had a chance to see it. Being placed in the burnt National Library, a symbol of science and survival, it really made a statement and impression.

Kounellis in Sarajevo, Vijecnica/National Library, Sarajevo, 2004

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