- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- All Balkan Countries
The goal of opening the Ars Aevi Museum, which once seemed a utopian idea, can be reached by the 2014 deadline if Bosnia’s politicians stand by their commitments.
|Amila Ramovic, Executive Director of Ars Aevi | Photo Courtesy of Ars Aevi|
With the official adoption of a plan by the City of Sarajevo and the Sarajevo Canton to open the Ars Aevi Museum in 2014, the Ars Aevi Project has reached a critical point in its 20-year development.
This is why in recent months we have launched an awareness raising campaign, intending to bring as much information about the initiative into the public eye as possible, underline its critical importance and help the responsible officials take all the necessary decisions.
These decisions need to be made promptly and operatively now we are one step away from a dream come true, when there is no more time or room for omissions or delays. Urgency, goodwill and vision are the priority.
Although all our actions are fuelled with optimism, and we tend to complain less about what others do and try to do ourselves as much as possible, it is clear that the project’s success depends on the moods of current political officials and on their assessment of what is relevant for their daily decision-making.
In many ways Ars Aevi has suffered from political oscillations aimed at achieving short-term gains, which is a serious problem for anyone trying to implement long-term development strategies.
So, even though Ars Aevi has established continuity in its results and is aiming at even higher aspirations by following its own long-term plans, many agreements made with those in power have simply not been followed, in particular in terms of meeting deadlines and fulfilling jointly established financial plans.
This is why, through this campaign, we have tried to explain the value and further significance of the two major assets of the Ars Aevi Project that brought it under UNESCO’s patronage: the Ars Aevi Collection and the architectural designs by Renzo Piano for the future Ars Aevi Museum.
|Ars Aevi Collection, Ars Aevi Art Depot, Skenderija Centre, Sarajevo, 2011 | Photo by Almin Zrno|
The idea of the Ars Aevi Collection is accepted as unique. The idea that Enver Hadziomerspahic formulated back in 1992 was that Sarajevo’s museum of contemporary art should not be just a museum of artworks but a museum bringing together the world’s most prestigious artists as its founders.
Ars Aevi does not contact the artists directly or request individual donations. Instead it collaborates with a number of international partner museums and contemporary art centres whose artistic directors make the selection and invite artists to join the Collection.
In such a way parts, the so called “nuclei”, of the Collection were formed in Italy, Slovenia, Austria, Turkey and Bosnia and new partners are now joining in Montenegro, Serbia, Croatia, France and elsewhere. The collection is assessed as the most important international contemporary art collection east of Vienna, as the distinguished Turkish art critic Beral Madra has said.
When Enver first met the Pritzker-prize winning architect in 1999, Piano described the project as original and deeply meaningful, saying it reached the highest artistic and ethical standards and that he therefore wished to join as one of the artists by contributing his own work – the design for the museum.
Piano can be said to have redefined the idea of a contemporary art museum, re-inventing, with Richard Rogers, contemporary architecture with his 1977 project, the Georges Pompidou centre in Paris.
His was an incredibly important acknowledgment of the initiative, which gave it a new, internationally very visible position.
In 2009 Renzo’s designs were on display for six months at our Braco Dimitrijevic-Renzo Piano exhibition at the Venice Biennale, where we officially announced that Sarajevo’s central Marijin Dvor location was finally legally free and dedicated by the Sarajevo Canton to the construction of the Ars Aevi Museum.
Following that, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova appointed him UNESCO’s “Goodwill Ambassador for the Ars Aevi Project”.
Ethically and spiritually, a project that started as a grand gesture by the world’s artists against the 1992-5 siege of Sarajevo will make the museum a glorious monument to the dignity of the city’s hardest years.
But it also represents an opportunity for the artists themselves to do something relevant outside the market system and perhaps create an internationally relevant artistic and social fact outside the flows of the ethically questionable capitalist market streams that have poisoned the art world in recent decades.
|Ars Aevi Museum Location | Courtesy of Ars Aevi|
However, the results achieved can be perceived also in terms of material value, expressed in millions of euros, which includes not only the Collection and Piano’s architectural designs, but also investments such as Renzo Piano’s gift to Sarajevo - the Ars Aevi’s Bridge, or the Ars Aevi Art Depot, designed by Amir Vuk and funded by the Italian MFA though UNESCO, to name a few. This is not to mention other individual contributions related to different activities that we organise: exhibitions, talks, publishing projects, and in particular the latest long-term public art project entitled Art of the World in Sarajevo.
The biggest material investment that we believe can be obtained now is European Union participation in the majority of costs for the construction of the Museum, which was presented as an offer at official meetings between representatives of Sarajevo City and the Canton and the EU Delegation to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
This participation appears even more realistic owing to the plans to open the Museum in 2014 as a contribution to marking the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, which was triggered by the assassination in 1914 in Sarajevo, and which is now a perfect place to close a century of wars and start a new century of cultural dialogue and artistic production.
This plan was adopted by Sarajevo’s Mayor Alija Behmen, the Cantonal Premier Fikret Music, the cantonal Minister of Culture Ivica Saric, and is also supported by the Federation entity premier, Nermin Niksic and the Federation’s Minister of Culture, Salmir Kaplan.
It was also accepted by Renzo Piano, UNESCO and the European Union, whose representatives have described Ars Aevi as an important contribution to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s path to EU integration.
Sarajevo’s authorities are now under a great test; whether they will be able to understand the values accumulated through Ars Aevi and even more the ones that will be gained once the museum is constructed - the prestige it will bring is not only artistic and wider cultural impact - but also in terms of its education, promotional and wider developmental influence, in particular in relation to Bosnia’s desire to join the EU.
However, goodwill is not enough. There is an enormous amount of work to be undertaken and tight deadlines to meet. Following the last general elections it took a while for the new government to find its way through the administration, but even the above-mentioned officials have stated their full dedication to the project. Now, in the following months, we will see if they stand by their words, as they will be the ones to write this page in Ars Aevi’s history.
Today we are one step away from what was called utopian madness back in 1992. We urge people with vision and dedication to help us make that leap into the future.
Amila Ramovic is Executive Director of Ars Aevi. This article is funded under the BICCED project, supported by the Swiss Cultural Programme.
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