During this most insanely busy of cultural weekends (four openings, three major festivals in music, theatre and art) in the Bosnian capital, the “Bring In Take Out Living Archive”, the result of a collaboration between the organisations Crvena and RedMin(e)d, and a range of volunteers, stands out as probably the most significant contemporary art event.
The methodology of the organisers is unashamedly collectivist and feminist in orientation. The programme and exhibition is located on the site of the former Marshal Tito barracks, now part of one of the University of Sarajevo campuses.
Over an exhausting few weeks of labour intensive preparation, the organisers have taken a derelict area of land on the campus and “reclaimed” it as an open air social space. A large area has been converted into a newly landscaped children’s playground, made entirely from materials found on the site. An abandoned kiosk, of the type usually occupied by bored policeman and parking attendants across the city, has been painted pink, dusted off and turned into a tiny exhibiting space, in which a rolling programme of video and stills, from artists and curators across the former Yugoslavia, plays. The site also played host to a four day programme of lectures and talks from contemporary artists, feminist activists, and critics from around Europe.
The event took its inspiration from a new feminist perspective on common and public spaces, and how they may be re-imagined. Silvia Federici’s statement is foregrounded in the accompanying catalogue:
“…this time, however, it is women who must build the new commons so that they do not remain transient paces, temporary autonomous zones, but become the foundation of new forms of social reproduction”.
As such, this open event stood both as a summation of feminist thinking, activism, and practice as it is in BiH and wider Europe, but also as an imagining of how it might usefully contribute to the re-working of Sarajevo’s urban spaces in the future; not as a piecemeal endeavour, but as a strategy and vision for how things might be imagined differently. And, in a weekend where the city transformed itself from the deep cultural sleep of Ramadan and long summer holidays into vivid one cultural-event-piled-on-top-of-another chaos, a cultural strategy and a vision for living is what is sorely lacking, obviously. It is in this sense that this collective reflection, sharing of ideas, as a basis for forward-looking and future transformation, was most valuable.