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Open Call for Artists

As part of the Art & Reconciliation: Conflict, Culture and Community research project, the History Museum of Bosnia Herzegovina, in collaboration with the University of the Arts London, is offering the opportunity for an artist or group of artists to produce an artwork in response to the museum’s collection. The form of the artwork is entirely open, as long as it has the potential to be exhibited within the Museum galleries, internal or external.

The fee for the commission will be 3000 euros inclusive of fees and production costs. The commission will be undertaken during the period February to May 2018, with the intention of exhibiting the final artwork in the Museum for public viewing from the end of June 2018. Depending on the form of the work, it will be exhibited in June at the Historical Museum of Bosnia Herzegovina at the end of June 2018, and in London in November/December 2018 as part of a larger exhibition of works from the whole Art and Reconciliation project. If the work itself is unsuitable for transportation, then documentation of the artistic process will be exhibited at these venues.

The nature of the artwork is entirely open, and can take any form, including sculpture, film, performance, fine art, and photography. Proposals that are socially engaged and or involve the participation or collaboration with a community or between communities are particularly welcome.

The proposals for the open call will be evaluated by a jury consisting of 5 members, Professor Paul Coldwell, University of the Arts London, Dr Milena Michalski, Kings College, Elma Hašimbegović, Historical Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina Sarajevo, Albert Heta – Stacion Centre for Contemporary Art Prishtina, and Nebojša Milikić, REX Cultural Center, Belgrade. The jury secretary will be Dr Paul Lowe, University of the Arts London.

Proposals of no more than 1000 words plus CV should be submitted by February 12, 2018 to the email address: histmuz@bih.net.ba. The proposal should contain drawings, technical description, context and semantic description, media, transport and storage requirements.

The work is an artistic response to the permanent exhibition besieged Sarajevo of History Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina and can be developed in several directions including but not limited to the following:

–       As an allegorical reaction to the phenomenon of the siege;

–       As a representation of the nature of everyday life under the siege;

–       As a comment on the creativity and innovation as a means of survival;

–       As an indicator of strength of human spirit during the war and crisis.

Context of Besieged Sarajevo exhibition at the History Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina

The History Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina aims to collect, preserve, research, present and promote the cultural and historical heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Founded in 1945, in its seventy-year history the museum has undergone a series of transformations: from the change of name to the change of structure and location. In the recent period the Museum has placed a special focus on more contemporary history, offering programs and activities that connect diverse partners and communities with the museum collections and resources around the topics of history, remembrance, dealing with the past, etc. The Museum’s permanent exhibition “Sarajevo under the siege” was inaugurated in 2003. The exhibition is a story about the lives of citizens of Sarajevo during the siege – from 1992 to 1995 – speaking about the resistance, resilience, and creativity of Sarajevans during the siege. Throughout the exhibition, we see how daily life was organized, where and how Sarajevans got water and food, how the city streets looked like, how people communicated, how hospitals and schools worked, what was the role of cultural life in the besieged city. The exhibition was made by the curators of the museum and citizens of Sarajevo – the citizens donated the objects to the museum and shared their war stories and memories. Among the handmade items one can find improvised stoves and lamps, homemade trolleys and sleds to carry food and water; all evidence of human creativity, endurance and the power of the human spirit.

Context of the Commissions

This project is one element of a larger overall piece of research that seeks to conceive, design and implement a series of artistic interventions in the area of post conflict reconciliation in the former Yugoslavia. Each intervention will involve the commissioning of an artist or group of artist to carry out the intervention. The interventions will investigate how different forms of artistic practice might affect the perceptions of inter group relations in the region. Each intervention will be evaluated to assess its impact on the artists involved, the participants in creating the artwork, and on targeted and general audiences. Treating the artistic process as emergent and the artist commission model as a creative leap of faith in which impact is unpredictable the research alongside this commission will focus on documenting and capturing the creative artistic process and the community response to the artistic intervention and the work that comes out of it.  Using qualitative, participatory methods the research is divided into two strands:

  • Research into the artists creative process and artistic ethos – through artist interviews, visual documentation and artists journals – with the aim of trying to capture and document the emergent quality of the artistic process for non-arts audiences (i.e., donor audiences who struggle to understand and quantify creative processes).
  • Research into the local community’s response to the artwork. The art work will be installed in the Museum and audiences responses to it will be evaluated through questionnaires and focus groups.

This commission is being undertaken as part of Art & Reconciliation: Conflict, Culture and Community: an AHRC-funded research project that is investigating the concept and practice of reconciliation and the potential role of arts and artistic practices in reconciliation activities. The research project commenced in January 2017 and will end in December 2018.  UAL is conducting research into the potential for the arts to contribute positively to post conflict societies. The research will involve the commissioning of a series of arts interventions, which will be evaluated for their impact.

Art and Reconciliation is an innovative and collaborative inter-disciplinary research project involving King’s College London (War Studies), the London School of Economics (Government) and the University of the Arts in London (London College of Communication) [Project Team] and non-academic collaborators in its design, production and delivery, commissioning artists in a variety of media to create and develop practices and artefacts. Our primary geographical focus is on the Western Balkans, but we are also conducting comparative and historical research to investigate how reconciliation has been understood, conceptualised and practised in multiple contexts across time and space. Although billions of pounds have been invested in post-conflict reconciliation projects involving aspects of justice and the creative arts, there has been no study of this phenomenon as such. ‘Art and Reconciliation: Conflict, Culture and Community addresses this major gap, opening up knowledge exchange between government, academia and the third sector.  Impacting beyond the academic community, this unique collaboration brings together academics, artists and NGOs to create and develop artistic practices and artefacts through a variety of media.

This inter-disciplinary project combines history, conflict resolution methodologies, art and creative practice, and both qualitative and quantitative social sciences.  The expert team of investigators include Dr Rachel Kerr and Professor James Gow of the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, Dr Denisa Kostovicova of the Department of Government, London School of Economics, and Dr Paul Lowe of the London College of Communication, University of the Arts in London. In addition, the project has its own Artist-in-residence, Dr Milena Michalski, and will work closely with NGO project partners in the Western Balkans to shape its design, production and delivery.

The research is funded through the Large Grant scheme of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) under the Conflict Theme of the Partnership for Conflict, Crime and Security Research (PaCCS) and through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).