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by Lejla Hodžić

In April 2024, almost thirty years after war in Bosnian and Herzegovina ended, twenty young Ukrainian visual artists, filmmakers, writers and journalists came from the war-torn Ukraine to Sarajevo to participate a workshop titled “Reporting from the Future,” organized by WARM Foundation. During a week which they spent in Sarajevo, some also visiting the other cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, they had a possibility to meet and talk with different people who experienced a war thirty years ago. Each Ukrainian had a Bosnian host, a person similar age and interest, who introduced them to the city, while several lectures by prominent Bosnian and foreign writers, journalists and curators discussed different aspects of the in Sarajevo and Bosnia and Herzegovina and their personal experience, were held in newly opened Austrian House in Sarajevo.

The exhibition “BOSNIA:UKRAINE Reporting from the Future,” was created during that week reflecting all what Ukrainian artists felt, learned and experienced while they were in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Writers and poets Kateryna Kalytko and Yuliia Manukian wrote an essays without visuals, while Katerina Babkina accompanied hers with the photos she took in Sarajevo and some from the Ukraine in her essay “Yet Another War Here: From Sarajevo to Kyiv.“ Kateryna Kalytko wrote about her experience visiting in her words „one of my favorite cities on this planet,“ meeting several people talking about their war experience and feeling about it thirty years after in her essay “Multiple Exposure“. Yulia Manukian, in her essay “Why Culture Maters,“ writes her thoughts about architecture, urbanism and art in Sarajevo.

Journalist Anastasiia Marushevska spent a week in Prijedor and surrounding cities, taking a number of photos and videos which have become an integral part of her essey “Memories in Chains. The Struggle for Closure in Prijedor.“ Serhiy Morgunov, photographer and cinematographer created three series of the postcards from Žepa and Srebrenica combining videos and photos he recorded during his trip. Poet Iryna Kupchynska also created three postcards but writing three essays about places in Sarajevo: At Mejdan, Hotel Holiday and Vijećnica and accompanied it with three sets of three photos by photojournalist Dzvinka Hanna Pinchuk, who also wrote an essay “Can Language Have PTSD“ as a part of her work at the exhibition.

Visual artist Dariia Kuzmych interviewed four Bosnians who were seriously wounded during the war and became disabled persons. Inspired with the stories about the siege, when there was no heating and electricity, which urged people to cut down the trees to heat their homes and prepare meals, but at the same time opening them to a sniper’s gaze, she created an installation drawing trees with ink and color pencils on polyester film. While in Sarajevo artist Inga Levi kept a visual diary, creating 12 drawings on paper which are exhibited together with a video she recorded about Sarajevo Rose, marking the place where shell killed people in front of the Sacred Heart Cathedral, now one of the most popular tourist spots, permanently visited by guided tourist groups.

Film director Danyil Moyseev, in his film “Considering the War“ through interviews with photographer Damir Šagolj and writers Faruk Šehić and Aleksandar Hemon, tries to solve a personal dilemma: whether to go to the battlefield as a soldier or to join the fight in another way. Documentary film “Between The End of Wars“ by poet Iryna Shostak and filmmaker Tanya Peresunko is an author’s attempt to comprehend and compare the experience of living through the war that ended 30 years ago and the war that is still ongoing.  Asia Bataieva-Dokalenko with the help of AI created “Managing the Truth,” a compelling 52-minute documentary that explores the intense challenges faced by journalists covering the Russian-Ukrainian war and operating under oppressive regimes in Russia, Belarus, Hungary, and Serbia.

“Ovo je Srbija. Ovo je pošta, budalo,” “This is Serbia. This is a post office, you fool” was a graffiti that appeared in Sarajevo briefly before the onset of the Bosnian war. In a series of conversations with local personalities, Valeriya Boyko in her debut film explores the story behind the graffiti that everyone knows yet few have seen. In the short animation film “RUTA” by video artist Hanna Tykha human perception is depicted as a relatively simple space with limited features. The most precious element in this space is a living flower, whose well-being is deeply affected by the events that consciousness undergoes. Throughout the film, this flower experiences the hardships of the Bosnian war.

Mural artist Dmitri Potapov created a large graffiti on the wall next to Olympic sport hall Zetra. Photo of that graffiti is presented at the exhibition. Artist Katya Buchatska in a serie of photographs titled “You Are My Future, Sarajevo, I Am Your Past“ pays homage to Susan Sontag. She was inspired by the fact that every war has something in common with every other war, creating a great temptation to compare suffering, motives, or outcomes. One can notice the similarity between Katya Buchatska’s and Susan Sontag’s hair, and the two women’s asynchronous stays in Sarajevo. Leila Davidova who uses the pseudonym of her alter ego brandfuet in her artistic endeavors and on Instagram, explores themes of masculinity through the lens of a post-war society. Through a series of photo portraits, she juxtaposes traditional notions of masculinity with feminine elements. In addition to the photographic series, she has created an art object using a genuine military jacket from the Bosnian war era.

“Filling the Holes” is a collaborative project between photographer Ivan Paniotov and Ukrainian children, aimed at giving children a new perspective and hope. According to UNICEF, at the beginning of the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine, 4.3 million Ukrainian children were displaced. This is more than half of the country’s estimated 7.5 million child population. The black and white photographs depict the still-visible urban consequences of the Bosnian War in Sarajevo. Ukrainian children worked with these printed photographs during supervised art-therapeutic sessions. They were given complete freedom to change, add, or remove elements from the images as they wished. Wars leave many scars and holes. Through this project, Ukrainian children fill these holes with their art, vision, dreams, and strengths.

Concept of the exhibition “BOSNIA:UKRAINE Reporting from the Future“ curated by Lejla Hodžić and Slaven Tolj also includes works by a number of artists from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and the wider region (photos, documentation of works, objects and video works) which are most delicately connected and interwoven with the works by Ukrainian artists.

Slaven Tolj, one of the most prominent artists in the field of contemporary art in Croatia and abroad, was invited to participate initial workshop in Sarajevo in April and curate the exhibition together with Lejla Hodžić, as his exhibition ART WAR, presented as part of the WARM Festival in 2023, in the destroyed hall of the former cinema “Sutjeska” (in the building of the Red Cross Society/cross of BIH). The beginning of the war in Ukraine in 2022 affected Slaven Tolj in such a way that his artistic focus returned to war themes and memories of the war experience lived in the period 1991-95 in Croatia, that he wrote: “On 24. February 2022, I cleaned the garden around the Flora Gallery in Dubrovnik. I lit a fire to burn the weeds I had collected, right at the moment when the war in Ukraine started. At that moment, the memories of everything came back to me: the war in Dubrovnik, the war in Sarajevo, 1991 and all the years of war. And from that moment I can’t stop thinking about it. Given that I am not able to express everything I want with words, the works of artists, which are important to me, express my words and my feelings”.