Synergy of Sarajevo

Sinergija Sarajeva / Synergy of Sarajevo: Azra Kadrić
Sinergija Sarajeva / Synergy of Sarajevo: Azra Kadrić

Expressing European identity through the eyes of the Sarajevo people

Opening: 30 May at 8.30 pm

30 May – 30 June 2014
Kavarna SEM, Slovene Ethnographic Museum, Ljubljana

17 June – 15 August 2014
Kosovelov dom, Sežana

Synergy of Sarajevo – Expressing European identity through the eyes of the Sarajevo people is a collective artwork created across different locations in Sarajevo between 2012 and 2014 in frames of the International Festival Sarajevo Winter.

The project was aimed at anyone who wanted to identify themselves with a self-portrait and make a statement expressing their views on, and vision of Europe. The project took place twice a year and always lasted for about seven days. Over a total of six weeks during 2012-2014, more than 900 people participated and actively co-created the project!

The professional self-portrait studio invented by Bojan Brecelj is a registered copyright (CC) under the name of Selffishstudios. In a transportable studio, the self-portraitist can attentively observe themselves in a mirror and “surprise him/herself with an appropriate expression” whenever they wish. The camera behind the mirror can be triggered either by hand or by foot. The nature of self-portraiture enables the individual to express themselves more easily and creatively because self-observation and the absence of photographer – contrary to formal posing – allows the individual to feel more at ease. The only instruction given to the participants was simply to make a self-portrait of their liking and afterwards “switch into a mental mode” and to fill the form with their opinion and message to Europe.

In the first year of the project (2012) the exhibition was held in the Bosnian Culture Centre in Sarajevo, followed by an exhibition in the lobby of the EU Mission building in Sarajevo in 2013. Two more exhibitions were organised in 2014: in the lobby of Hotel Europe and in the Hanikah Gallery in Baščaršija. Each exhibition revealed something more. The exhibitions in Slovenia comprise a selection of self-portraits and statements from all three editions.

The authors: actually, the project is a collective work. Anyone who participated by creating a self-portrait and statement, co-created it! The subject “European Identity” was proposed by Ibrahim Spahić, the founder and director of the Sarajevo Winter Festival. The studio, aesthetics, selection of spaces and framing as well the principal concept of the project was developed by Bojan Brecelj. The assistants – photographer Andrej Firm and artist Ivana Petan – creatively participated throughout the project, together with occasional participation by volunteers from the Sarajevo Winter Festival (Berin, Enisa, Zlatan, Nermin, Nejra…) without whom, the tempo of the work, the constant tracing of the “right spaces” which “lived” at a certain time, would just not have been the same.

In 2013, the project was substantially funded by numerous relatives and friends as well as by Photon and Vibacom. If it hadn’t been for them the project would have been terminated after the equipment was stolen.

Bojan Brecelj