Biennale of Contemporary Art, D-0 ARK Underground, Konjic
Forty-four artists and artistic groups currently feature in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s first Biennale of Contemporary Art on the premises of a former nuclear bunker in Konjic, from 27 May to 27 September 2011. Under the title “No Network”, the Biennale of Contemporary Art presents artworks on the themes of inter-subjective reflection, human psychology, remembrance, and war, using its extraordinary location to paint scenarios of the past and future. UNESCO supports the Biennale of Contemporary Art under the umbrella of its Joint Programme “Improving Cultural Understanding in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, which seeks to improve cross-cultural understanding, endorse the country’s unique multicultural identity, and promote its cultural industries sector.
For Sinisa Sesum, UNESCO Senior Programme Officer in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Biennale of Contemporary Art “offers an exceptional occasion to fuse heritage to modernity as well as to reinforce collaboration between local and international artists.” The exhibition deals at once with cultural identity and difficult heritage.
The atomic shelter of Konjic, D-0 ARK (Atomska Ratna Komanda), was one of the largest underground facilities built in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to protect up to 350 individuals in the case of nuclear warfare. Today, it is an abandoned symbol of failed cold war investment. Steeped in history, the Konjic bunker struck the Biennale’s curators, Branislav Dimitrijevic and Petar Kucovic, as a place where time and space are unfixed and ambiguous. They therefore conceptualized its vast underground system as a time machine that could offer visitors images of the past, present and future of human life.
The collection of contemporary artworks unites a range of regional as well as international artists and includes work specifically created for the site. Forms of art range from drawing, photography, and poetry to sound and video installations. American artist Lisi Raskin’s contribution, S.N. 56314, for instance, is a sound installation that brings the aural experience of the outside into the hermetically sealed environment of the bunker, exploring the theme of disconnectedness implied in the Biennale’s title. A Croatian-British collaboration by Vlatka Horvat and Tim Etchells, To Bring Down the House, uses a fax machine to send new material throughout the exhibition’s duration and proposes various ideas of how to destroy a building. Sarajevo-born artist Nebojša Šerić Shoba uses nothing more that paper, pins, and a fan to create his kinetic installation Fear, which invites spectators to reflect on the role of fear in contemporary media and society, and on how emotions can be manipulated by powerful individuals and groups.
Via contemporary art the bunker is thus transformed into a space of anxious reflection, where the majority of exhibits deal with negative themes such as trauma, decay, and loss. Using the pre-apocalyptic mood of the nuclear bunker as an ever-present backdrop, this Biennale draws attention to pressing global issues and reminds us that war is as present today as it were during the reign of Tito. The centres of conflict have merely shifted to different regions. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s first Biennale of Contemporary Art, therefore, offers an important space for dialogue and reflection and UNESCO is pleased to support this initiative through its joint programming activities in the region.
The MDG-F Joint Programme “Improving Cultural Understanding in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH)” is a three-year programme financed by the Spanish Fund for the Achievement of Millennium Development Goals (MDG-F). It is being implemented by the three UN Agencies UNDP, UNESCO and UNICEF, in cooperation with the Ministry of Civil Affairs of BiH, the Ministry of Culture and Sports of BiH, the Ministry of Education and Culture of BiH, as well as other institutions working in the area of education and culture.
Official Website : www.bijenale.ba
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