Want to See More? Pictures from the Biennale of Contemporary Art in Konjic
“No Network”, the Biennale of Contemporary Art in Konjic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, is open to visitors throughout the summer months of 2011. UNESCO supports the Biennale under the UN Joint Programme “Improving Cultural Understanding in Bosnia and Herzegovina” with the intention to promote the growth and internationalization of the national arts sector as well as to stimulate intellectual involvement with the country’s historical and cultural heritage.
The accompanying photo gallery provides an impression of the uncommon setting of this exhibition, which is located on the premises of a former atomic shelter, built under the Tito regime of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. It is a sinister but likewise fascinating place that invites to reflect on the social world of former Yugoslavia in comparison with present world affairs. Visitors follow the corridors of the bunker’s underground system to discover paintings, poetry, film screenings, and sound installations. “My favorite part of the exhibition is that I never know what to expect when I turn around the corner”, says one of the Biennale’s visitors.
Among the artworks that visitors will discover along their way are the colorful Vanguard American Paintings provided by Berlin’s Museum of American Art, Allard van der Hoek’s unsettling photo gallery 5 to 12 below Germany, and Römer + Römer’s large-scale oil painting of an Asian beach idyll, which is given an ironic, threatening undertone by its uncanny environment. Radenko Milak’s What Else Did You See? I Couldn’t See Everything! deals with the problematic documentation of war crimes through obsessive repetition of an original photograph showing a soldier brutally kicking a woman at the beginning of the war in Bijeljina, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Ioana Nemes recreates Tito’s bedroom using a giant canvas from her project series Monthly Evaluations and bathing the entire room in bright red. Many artworks were in fact created especially for this Biennale to explore and integrate with the architectural structures of the Konjic bunker.
Anything but a lighthearted exhibition, the Biennale touches on a range of pressing social issues relevant on a contemporary global scale. What is the role of war today, how is it portrayed, justified, condemned? What are the effects of an insecure environment on the human soul? Where is the light at the end of the tunnel and which initiatives can we take to create a better, more peaceful and wholesome world? UNESCO invites all readers to dip into the underground artistic thought world of the Konjic Biennale.
The MDG-F Joint Programme “Improving Cultural Understanding in Bosnia and Herzegovina” 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.