So the weather here is more Glaswegian than Parisian, but that is not bothering the team of workers, headed by Pierre Courtin, who are busy installing the Memory Lane exhibition at the galerie du jour. With two days until opening day, the show is 75% up and already looking good.
This is an exhibition which has been in the process of making for nearly two years, will be the biggest showing of contemporary art in Bosnia-Hercegovina ever held abroad. In Yugoslav times, BiH artists were part of broader Yugoslavian shows; Five Thousand Years of Yugoslav Art was shown in Paris in 1971, at what is now the Cultural Centre of Serbia (a stone’s throw from this gallery space); in 1990-91, the show FRA-YU-KULT was the last of the major showings of work from the region before the old federal republic collapsed. The individual practices of artists such as Braco Dimitrijević, Maja Bajević, Milomir Kovačević, and Damir Radović, who have spent significant amounts of their career wokring in Paris, have done much to keep work made by Bosnian artists in the critical eye. But this exhibition, although purely commercial rather than state funded, stands to take its place alongside those two canonical earlier shows; to bring the diversity and breadth of artistic practice in BiH into focus.
This exhibition has been made possible in three ways. In BiH, no significant funding from the state for an enterprise like this can be expected. As a result, a mixture of Pierre’s vision and daily support of contemporary art in BiH, through his activities at duplex, the financial and logisitcal support of the agnes b. foundation, and the work of the artists themselves, have all come together. This is a show which is cross generational, and multi-disciplinary. Alongside painting photography and video, performances from Jusuf Hadžifejzović and Alma Suljević will take place on the opening weekend, with Lala Raščić appearing live, at the end of June.
The key animating threads of contemporary BiH art, criss-crossing one another, are all here. There are broad historical narratives that reference both the Yugoslav past and the war (Radenko Milak, Mladen Miljanović, Gordana Anđelić-Galić); there is dark comedy in the absurdities of the present (Lana Čmajčanin, Andrej Đerković); and the impact that historical narratives have at a deeply personal level (Šejla Kamerić, Adela Jušić, Irena Sladoje); the brutal power plays of gender and patriarchy (Nela Hasanbegović); the impact of architecture from a common past in an indivdiualistic present (Igor Bosniak, Edo Macedo); the Balkan epic story / folk tale (Ibro Hasanović); works both familiar and unfamiliar.
We will be providing daily updates on SCB for people back home. Tomorrow, we will provide a more detailed look at the work of some of the artists presented. On Saturday, a review of the opening and some interviews will go up; with specific reviews of the two performances on the Sunday.
Memory Lane, curated by Pierre Courtin, opens on Friday 6 June at galerie du jour agnes b., 44 rue Quincampoix, Paris, and runs until the end of July. A catalogue with text by Jon Blackwood will be available at the end of the exhbition, featuring installation views and press reviews as well as a run down of all work exhibited.