‘Future post-History’ in Sarajevo

The exhibition by Bosnian artist Braco Dimitrijević, ‘Future post-History’, which was displayed at the Biennale of Venice last year, is now on display in Sarajevo, in the Vijećnica, the building of the National Library.

The history of this building offers a good image of the history of the city of Sarajevo. Built in neo-moorish style during Austrian rule, it immediately became on of the most important symbols of the city. The building was severely damaged in August 1992, when the Serb forces shelled it with incendiary bombs, as part of their tactical goal of destroying the cultural heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina. More than 2 million books and documents were lost forever but the building now is being restored, slowly, just like, slowly, the visible signs of the war are quietly disappearing from the face of Sarajevo.

The loss itself is irreversible, but as the visible signs of destruction slowly either disappear or become invisible to the eyes of those who live here, the city displays its resilience through a systematic effort to make life pleasant and exciting, while assuming its depleted heritage. Thus the title of the exhibition is particularly appropriate to contemporary Sarajevo: Future post-History.

The exhibition is composed of different elements: on the building’s façade, a portrait of a casual passer-by, on the main hall an installation composed of three boats which instead of sails have giant portraits of iconic figures, and on the rooms around video-works are continually displayed. All of these elements are recurrent in the artist’s career, repeated with some variations in exhibitions and interventions on the cityscape worldwide, as episodes of a single narrative that unfolds through time and space.

What makes this exhibition particularly special is that, instead of the clean white walls of a prestigious art gallery, we have the dust and the typical mess of a building in reconstruction, which reinforces the feeling of being upon a process, not something finished, closed to the future, but rather a journey that we don’t know where it may lead but still embark on.


Filed under Art, Bosnia

6 responses to “‘Future post-History’ in Sarajevo

  1. Owen

    What a beautiful image of the skylight under restoration. There’s part of me that thinks that the National Library should have been left in its damaged condition, as a permanent – international – monument to the struggle between barbarism and civilisation/civility.

  2. Great post! It looks to be a very interesting exhibition; really wish I was free to see it.

  3. Pingback: ‘Future post-History’ in Sarajevo | Culture Seyahatname

  4. Asteri

    Here is a pre-war picture of the Library interior
    National Library Interior Stairwell
    and in 1997
    National Library Interior Stairwell

    A good jesture would be for Serbia and Croatia to donate some of their collections to restock the library, when its restored.

  5. Christine

    I have no idea how I manage to live in this city and miss a Braco Dimitrijevic exhibition. He is amazing. I saw an exhibition and heard him speak in Philadelphia a few years ago. So you are in Sarajevo? If you still want to have a coffee, send me an email – christine.bednarz@gmail.com sve nabolje…

  6. Brings back memories to read this post. I visited Sarajevo in October and fell in love with the city instantly. I saw this exhibition – very fascinating, and way more so in this place than it would have been in an ordinary art gallry.