It’s Sarajevo Film Festival at the moment, so the city is packed with visitors. Ferhadija, one of the main streets in the centre of the city, was so choked with people on Friday night that walking along it took three times the length of time that it would have on a normal Friday. Celebrities, directors, film buffs and tourists have come to what is one of the biggest cultural events anywhere in ex-Yugoslavia- arguably the biggest.
It was an opportune moment for Pierre Courtin’s gallery Duplex 10m2 to re-open, therefore, on late Sunday afternoon. The Sarajevo-based French curator and art historian ran his original space in a small rooftop gallery located in a courtyard just off Ferhadija, but this was obliged to close after a final exhibition of the PORSCHISMUS collective in November 2011, as a result of funding issues. It was a severe blow at the time to the contemporary arts scene in Sarajevo, which left only Čarlama, ARS AEVI and Collegium Artisticum as viable spaces for contemporary art in the city.
Happily, Courtin refused to be discouraged and has spent the intervening months finding new sources of funding to re-establish the gallery in a different location. Duplex is now located in a much bigger venue- on the second floor of a handsome Hapsburg appartment on Obala Kulina Bana. There are two well proportioned exhibition rooms, a long corridor and a front office which offer the possibility to see a good amount of the Duplex collection, which consists of nearly 300 works by contemporary artists from Bosnia-Hercegovina. Many of these works are in storage in Paris, but a good proportion are on display here, making for a very interesting exhibition that re-establishes Courtin’s space in its rightful position at the very centre of the Sarajevo contemporary arts scene. Even if you find the art to be of only passing interest, there is a truly fantastic sun terrace at the back- a big draw in this unseasonably hot summer in the Bosnian capital.
Ambitious plans for changing monthly exhibitions are underway and we will be following the Duplex programme on here closely, as it develops. the re-emergence of Duplex as a working gallery is the first reversal of the dreadful cultural closures and cutbacks that affected the city in 2011- hopefully the national institutions that have been mothballed for several months can re-emerge in the near future, too.
Duplex 10m2- with an opening exhibition from the Duplex collection- is now open at Obala Kulina Bana 22. A catalogue of the entire range of Duplex’s exhibiting activity, in the original Ferhadija space, is available, priced 20 KM.