Bosnia and Herzegovina: Currents of water and art

Imago Mundi

Contemporary Artists from Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Image of the World is a gigantic mosaic carpet. It consists of thousands of tesserae, each measuring 10 by 12 cm. Each tessera is a microcosm within a macrocosm. Each tessera tells the story of an inner world and of a space within the universe. Each tessera is part of an exhibition structure that is a small mosaic of an enormous hypothetical one.

Narcis Kantardžic - Untitled (2015)

The first mosaics in history date back to the 5th Century B.C., but it was in Byzantine times that the technique reached its heights of greatest splendour. In the wall and floor decorations of cathedrals in imperial cities, light causes the glass, glazed or pure gold pieces to sparkle with colour and delicate nuances. Behind every mosaic cycle lay a precise and coherent iconographic program. Each individual piece contributed towards creating a whole, a unicum, an ensemble, a specific story.

Nebojša Šerić Shoba - Untitled (2013)

Jasenko Gavric - Decision (2015)

Similarly, in the Mosaic of the World, each tessera has its own life and its own identity, but takes part in a single plan.
To achieve his project, a gigantic mosaic of contemporary works, Luciano Benetton requested artists from all over the world to participate, asking them with their own energies to compose a polyphonic choir made up of individual voices. In order to become usable, art must be backed up by a narrative project, a theme that imbues it with value and that makes it comprehensible to everybody.

Damir Šabić - Bodyscapes (2015)

In this specific case, the dream that underlies the project is the creation of an important worldwide Museum of Contemporary Art, a global photograph of our times. And while the exhibitions, the Biennials, the Triennials and the international shows that have been on the steady increase since the early 90’s are organised in a specific place and are dismantled after a certain amount of time, this colossal museum continues to live, constantly embellishing itself with new life force and in its turn being housed by the great museums of the world.

Admira Bradarić - Untitled (2015)

There is a tiny country amongst many others that have taken part in the venture, one with barely three million seven hundred thousand inhabitants, that is called Bosnia and Herzegovina, from Bosna, the river that springs close to Sarajevo and whose meaning is water that flows, and Herzegovina, the etymology of which means Dukedom. One could imaginatively call it the “Dukedom of the water that flows”. A country with thousands of years of complicated history behind it, a brief mention of which might be worthwhile making, in order to contextualize its artistic output.

Miodrag Manojlovic - Don’t ask me… (2015)

A land of crossings, conquests and migration like Italy, it was annexed to the Roman Empire, then undergoing substantial progress. When the latter declined, the separating line between the Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire ran along the Drina river and Bosnia and Herzegovina became a kind of cushion between the two worlds, frontier country and access and transit gate between the East and the West. When Rome fell, the whole Danubian area suffered several invasions, from the Slavs to the Turks who, in 1463, annexed Bosnia to the Ottoman Empire and made Sarajevo the capital of the new province. During the four hundred years of Turkish rule, the country became an area in which the Eastern and Western worlds and the Christian and Muslim worlds both met and clashed. During the 19th Century, the Nationalist uprisings against Turkey ended with Bosnia-Herzegovina falling under the rule of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Resentment for the new occupation culminated with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand
of Austria, casus belli of World War I, which ended with the disintegration of Austria- Hungary and the inclusion of Bosnia- Herzegovina in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Invaded by Germany in 1941, it was then freed by the Yugoslav partisans guided by Marshal Josip Broz Tito, obtaining the state of Republic within the Federation of Yugoslavia. Tito’s death, in 1980, marked the downfall of socialism and the emergency, within the Federation, of the nationalist and separatist claims that lie at the basis of the late and dramatic historical events.

Emir Krajišnik - The other side (2015)

Bosnia-Herzegovina is a primarily mountainous area, with a mantle of thick forests and vast valley floors cut through by rivers and streams that model the land in a significant manner. Clear emerald waters flow through the beds of the Neretva, Una, Sava, Drina, Bosna and Vrbas rivers. In spring, when the snow melts, the countless shades of green defy the palette; the locals claim that the water in many of these rivers is drinkable. The only river that empties into the Adriatic is the Neretva, which triumphantly throws itself into the sea. The others streak the land, either solemnly and peacefully or with impetus and exuberance.

Mladen Miljanovic - Occupo 2013 (2015)

Marijana Pažin-Ivešić - Untitled (2015)

Over the years, I have travelled through Bosnia high and low. Becoming involved in contemporary art in this country seems to me the logical crowning glory to my own personal journey.

Amela Hadžimejlic - I have a wish (2015)

To better understand Bosnia, I read Ivo Andrić and his masterpiece “The Bridge over the Drina”, written seventy years ago and half-forgotten. Through the story of a bridge with eleven arches, commissioned in the 15th Century by Vizier Mehmed Pascià Sokolovic in Visegrad under which “the Drina seems to gush with all the weight of its mass of green and foamy water from an unbroken chain of dark, steep hills”, Andrić talks about the passage of time in this corner of the world, a crossroads of peoples and of cultures, halfway between the East and the West as it stood. He continues, “the great bridge of stone which, according to Vizier Mehmed Pascià Sokolovic’s intention and charitable decision, was to join the two parts of the Empire like a link in a chain and, “by divine love”, facilitate transit from west to east and vice-versa”.

Esmir Prlja - Introduction to complexity (2013)

As Heidegger says, a bridge is never just a bridge; it can represent many other things and become a symbol. Its physical and architectural existence contributes towards organising physical space, but it also manifests a whole series of different meanings. A bridge permits passage from one bank to the other, communication between two shores, metaphorically constituting a point of conjunction between different worlds and cultures, because diversity enriches coexistence.

Boris Hodak - I scream, you scream, we all scream for icecream (2015)

The title of the collection, “Currents of water and art”, also stands for many things. Recalling the natural waters that flow under the many bridges and allegorically matching them to the various forms of expression that “flow” in this contemporary era.

Selma Selman - Self portrait (2015)

Dalida Karić-Hadžiahmetovic - Freedom (2013)

The collection consists of works by established professionals and teachers in the most prestigious Academies and Schools who have been active on the national and international scene for years, as well as works by young emerging artists timidly trying to create a space of their own within the artistic panorama. The small space of the canvas did not constitute a limit to the many forms of expression which, for some, are characterised by a break with the past and a stronger direct manifestation of spirit, while for others by a recovery of tradition and an adhesion to the standards of a stout classicism.

Maja Bajrić - Self portrait (2015)

Many artists adopted the most varied languages and techniques that identify contemporary art, cardinal place of experimentation and also of transgression: not just painting, in oil or acrylic, but also photography, embroidery, crochet, the most diverse materials and objects. Sensorial importance is pronounced in many of these tiny canvases: colours are intense, bright, mellow. Sometimes they even continue on the back, as a continuation or elongation of a thought. The result is an extraordinary and heterogeneous set of images, part of a global idea, a Mappa Mundi of contemporary art.

Alisa Čaber - Fare thee well (2015)

All this brings to mind an object that passionately fascinated me a few years ago, a gigantic globe that weighed 34 kg made in 1869, housed in the National Museum of Jewels situated in the enormous vault of the Central Bank of Iran in Teheran. To get there, you walk through a 25-cm thick door and sophisticated security systems. This extraordinary globe is made of 51,366 precious stones: the seas are made of emeralds, the land of rubies, Iran, England and France adorned with diamonds. Every precious stone, minutely placed beside the next, is a country, a piece of territory, an inhabited area, a precious and singular Image of the World.

Maja Dodig - Untitled (2015)

Ševko Husić - Untitled (2015)

I like to imagine that, by participating in this project, Bosnia-Herzegovina has also found a concrete space of its own within this immense mosaic, exciting Wunderkammer!

Manuela Da Cortà
— Curator of the Imago Mundi project Bosnia and Herzegovina

Sadko Hadžihasanovic - Super shoot (2013)

Credits: Story

Manuela Da Cortà
Adnan Hozo

Valentina Granzotto

Editorial coordination
Enrico Bossan

Luciano Benetton
Manuela Da Cortà
Vildana Dervisbegović

Editing and Translation
Manuela Da Cortà
Sara Favilla
Adnan Hozo
Dijana Kačavenda
Nabila Yacub

Art direction
Daniele Tonon

Marco Zanin

Marco Pavan

Adnan Hozo

Special thanks to
Safet, Ivana e Hana Zec
Antonio De Polo
Žana Vukicevic
Milenko Kačavenda
Susanna Valle
Massimo Moratti

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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