Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Südosteuropäische Geschichte

Ewa Anna Kumelowski

“Umiranje u ljepoti: artistic responses to the formation of wartime narratives during the siege of Sarajevo”



A result of the violently abrupt conflicts that dominated southeastern Europe at the end of the twentieth century, the four-year siege of Sarajevo forced those unable to leave the city to live under regular shelling and sniper attacks. In spite of constant danger, the city’s visual artists continued pre-war activities under changed circumstances, painting and sculpting their way through the conflict. An estimated two hundred and fifty exhibitions were held in the besieged city, presenting a rich variety of traditional local art, radical new art and the works of international actors. This project proposes to explore the temporal trajectory of the Yugoslav cultural sphere leading up to and following of the dissolution of the socialist state through the prism of the Bosnian capital’s artistic production, tracing the ways in which tangible official and semi-official institutional structures and inter-personal networks were shaped by the conflict. Mobilizing a transdisciplinary and micro-historical approach to address larger shifts in the region’s cultural history, the ways in which the visual arts mirrored socio-political developments are explored through delineating patterns and the underlying narratives that undercut the re-imagination of both physical and imagined spaces. Using the city of Sarajevo as a reference point, the following research will not only document and analyze artistic production within the city itself, but also focus on its relationship to the region and the international sphere.