551-35 – Geometry of Time, installation, lightbox, print on Barrisol canvas, 306 x 395 x 25 cm, 2014
Installation entitled 551.35 Geometry of Time acquaints us with the concept of what might be called geometry of geopolitics. The installation consists of 35 selected maps which defined the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina during the last 551 years. Overlapping on a lit background, instead of showing distinct and clear borders, these maps evidence their shifts, deviations and instability caused by colonial, imperial, conquering, migrational, martial, as well as ‘peace-keeping’ redesigns. Monumentally conceived with a view to presenting ‘objective’ borders, this installation makes incursion into the geometry of the course of history, since the expected and distinct borders are replaced with a palimpsest of previously subjugated and thus forgotten truths. Palimpsest as a metaphor, transposed from the textual into the domain of visual, calls into question the very linearity of historical time, as well as political and, above all, military strategies of space organisation, thereby highlighting the repetitive patterns of creating (dis)continuous history and cyclicality of historical violence. Jelena Petrović
A Change Is Gonna Come, tetraptych, C-print on aluminium, 60 x 80 cm each, 2015
The series of photographs entitled: A Change Is Gonna Come is drawing attention to the complex geopolitical situation of possessing and dividing territorial waters in-between different countries. The work deals with perpetual repositions of the borders and demarcation of the sea. It represents a political landscape that rather questions, then documents uncertain and fragile future(s) of those strategic areas which are geopolitical zones of national conflicts and (re) identifications. Variable frames of the Adriatic Sea horizon show the undefined nature which has potential to break through existing borders and to ‘reappropriate’ the land and the sea within new social utopias. Symbolically, through the almost unchanged and static landscape the title implies, provokes and ironizes geopolitical and climatic changes. At the same time, it offers a space, an image and a sign for the politics of hope and its utopian inscriptions.
The Nature of Statistics, vinyl coated tablecloth, print on vinyl, dimension variable, 2014
The use of the word statistics in daily life is mostly related to figures that we use in order to try to describe important characteristics of a group of data. However, analyzing statistics exclusively as figures frequently end here.
Portraits of women who got their names from (Jagoda lat. Fragaria – strawberry, Dunja lat. Cydonia oblonga – quince, Višnja lat. Prunus cerasus – sour cherry) and flowers (Iris lat. Iris – iris, Ruža lat. Rosa – rose, Kala lat. Zantedeschia aethiopica – arum lily) constitute a personification of statistical data. Through such a contextualization of statistical data I speak about the problem of the unfavorable and subordinated social, legal and socio-economic position of women in the modern capitalism and patriarchal society through current statistical data presented in the public in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Geometry of Place, engraved glass, 28 panels composed by two 7mm glass and frame, 2014
Comprising two sets of glass engravings, this installation testifies to the cartographic representation of history, i.e. charting of borders which here fully coincide. The first set consists of maps filled in with intricate etching marks in line with the patterns used in map legends to designate the locations of military operations. The second set, as a reflection of the first one, includes simplified engravings of linear sketches representing the development of the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina, taken from school textbooks, i.e. didactic maps. The creation of a link between these two contexts, military and educational, sheds light on the mechanisms that normalise the history of violence, as well as on the normative processes of its perpetuation and reiteration. The engravings thus represent deep and resistant inscriptions, as they overlap and mirror one another in the glass, while emphasising what is evident, yet flimsy and fragile. Jelena Petrović
Female President, 03min 17s, sound, color, 2005
In this video performance, the author stands at the podium and tells the shocking testimony of a young woman raped and tortured during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, while mimicking the strong face and body gesticulation typical for orators and dictators. As we watch this video, the shocking testimony can awaken mixed emotions of sadness, empathy, anger and even shame. It seems that the author is strongly accenting a contrast between what we see and what we hear, by skillfully playing with our senses while challenging a perceptive transformation of reality in a form we are accustomed to. This puts the viewer in the unenviable position; instead of the singular perception process, now two separate processes are contrasting to make watching and listening of this video even harder.
I will never Talk About the War Again, 09min 42s, sound, color, 2011, in collaboration with Adela Jušić
This video performance drawing to attention the post-war situation in the frame of speaking about the past war.
From personal experience comes the fact that it is impossible not to talk about the war in everyday life. In this performance we are trying to expose all the possible emotions we have about this fact, but also to point on different aspects of talking about the war, for example, how nationalistic parties use constant remembering of the war in the media to keep the power and nationalistic fronts among people in ex Yugoslavia.
Is it possible not to talk about the war?
Why do we do it?
When will it stop?
Will we stop?
Should we stop?
Music Box, sound music box, mixed media, handmade maple wood box, 08min33s, loop, 2015, 25x17x18cm, 2015
The music box evokes emotionally charged memories stored in our brain. The childhood and personal history trapped in memory along with its images come to life again and again when you hear the same sounds. Closed in the music box, the sound composition made from elements associated with memories of the sounds of war emerges every time you open it.
20.000 – Trauma of a Crime, installation, 20 music stands, lamps, prints, dimension variable, 2010
After World War II, the highest number of rapes has been registered in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
That figure exceeds 20,000.
The exact number will never be determined in the patriarchal structure of society such as ours. The survived victims mostly remain in silence over trauma or fear of social and family disapproval and rejection.
The phenomenon of mass (systematic) rape of women and underage girls as a method of achieving war targets the employment of patriarchal cultural matrix that is most often used as a factor of opponent demoralization. It sends a clear message to opponent who was not able to react protective and protect family, what ultimately has direct and strong psychological impact on a person’s identity.
The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the numerous countries that has signed the Convention Against Torture, and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which binds the country to ensure help and to enforce a right to compensation to victims.
However, the problem of care for the civil victims of war still exists in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as in Republika Srpska. Due to the inconsistency of laws between the Federation and Republika Srpska and a non-existent regulation of rights at the state level for people who survived war, torture and sexual abuse, the violated person loses the possibility to gain their legal rights. In the case when the EU insists on the return of the exiled persons and refugees to their pre-war dwellings (usually the place of crime) it becomes a rule that, as a result of the discrepancies of the laws of two political entities, victims lose their pertaining rights in the places they were banished from.
As a consequence of multiple legal regulations, inconsistencies between laws and their implementation at the state level, the women victims of war are deprived of their rights and are made impossible to struggle for it. Special thanks to Igor Grubić
I Begged them to Kill Me, sound installation, 5.1 sound, 04min07s, loop, dimension variable, 2010
Reading the book “I Begged them to Kill Me: crime against the women of Bosnia and Herzegovina”, publish by Centre for Investigation and Documentation of the Association of Former Prison Camp Inmates of B&H. Published by Sarajevo, 2000; I started to collect sentences without explicit content of act of raping, but the sentences which describe or indicate period pre or after in order to leave a space for recipients to create their own scenes atrocities that have happened.
My aim is to point out on social ignorance and social marginalization of a problem of systematic rape and the treatment of women whose are survivors of rape.
Besides legal impediments, survived victims are facing other traumatic experiences: social alienation, unemployment, housing problems, unsolved legal status, unrecognized status, insufficient medical and psychological help, lacking protection and help. Amnesty International has published the fact that 30% of war crime victims of sexual abuse do not receive any psychological help.
A large number of women, victims of sexual abuse/gender-based violence, have not yet been recognized as such, being deprived of the status and this way the right to any form of reparation. In order to avoid the stigmatization of the surroundings and their own families, some of the traumatized women weren’t able to come out and claim the right, although satisfying conditions, others weren’t well informed about the law or the closing date for applications, and some of them couldn’t gather all the necessary medical documentation.
There were just a few who had the courage to claim the status of civil victims of war, thus acquiring a minimum compensation the law provides.
Lana Čmajčanin Biography
Lana Čmajčanin was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1983.She holds an MFA in Sculpture from the Academy of Fine Arts at the University of Sarajevo.Her work encompasses installations, video works, performances and sound installations.Čmajčanin’s socially engaged artistic practice is often situated and has a strong reference to a specific place, political framework, war and post-war situation in B&H and wider with a distinct inclusion of the role of women and the female body.She is not afraid to be engaged with even most traumatic issues of the space she is coming from. Her work presents an unbribable political agenda and she succeeds to translate and transmit local realities and experiences in a universal code, comprehensive for an international audience.
She is one of the founders and members of the Association for Culture and Art Crvena.Lana Čmajčanin has exhibited in many international exhibitions including Resolution 827, SMBA – Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherland; Grammar of Freedom / 5 Lessons, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow, Russia; Blank Maps – Tobačna 001, Museum and Galleries of Ljubljana MGML, Slovenia; The Century of the Bed – The small i, Gabrielle Senn Galerie, Vienna, Austra; A Time for Dreams, Museum of Moscow, Russia; …Was ist Kunst?… Resuming a Fragmented History, Künstlerhaus Halle für Kunst & Medien, Graz, Austria; Victory obsessed, Zamek Culture Centre, Poznan, Poland; Secondary Witness, ISCP, New York; I will never talk about the war again, Fargfabriken, Stockholm; Spaceship Yugoslavia. The Suspension of Time, NGBK – Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst, Berlin, Germany; Prolonged Exposure, The Center for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv, Israel; I Advocate Feminism, ArtPoint Gallery, Vienna, Austria etc.She has participated in several Artists in Residence Programmes (Austrian Federal Chancellery in cooperation with KulturKontakt Austria, The Kamov Residency Programme, Rijeka, Cultural Center Tobačna 001, Museum and Galleries of Ljubljana MGML, Luigi Pecci Centre for Contemporary Art, Prato) and won several awards and scholarships including the Special Award of the 54th October Salon in 2013. She has been nominated for Keith Haring Fellowship in Art and Activism at Bard College, in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.