SARAJEVO TIME TRAVEL AGENCY, PASTS PRESENTS FUTURES
2016 Collective narrative, installation
Video HD, color, sound, English, 98 min, loop
Cardboard chair, 100 x 100 x 85 cm
Photography/3D rendering, 90 x 57 cm
3 manipulated clocks, 40 x 40 cm
Sarajevo is filled with travel agencies. Everyone dreams of travel even if not everyone can afford it. Influenced by the close coexistence of Ottoman, Byzantine, Roman-Catholic and Sephardic cultures, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina is itself a travel destination – mostly for tourists from Arab countries, but for many Western Europeans it still remains a blind spot on the map.
Just two of the local events have ever made it into the collective memory: the Sarajevo 1984 Winter Olympics that took place in the still united Yugoslavia and were hailed as the best organised Olympic winter games to date, and the brutal siege of the city in 1992-1996. The two events were subsequently woven into a self-narrative about the unity of happiness – the games were marketed as the Games of Joy – and horror – that of a war against civil population.
Today, twenty years after the war, the country of Bosnia and Herzegovina remains divided. The ethno-nationalist dispute between the three main segments of the population cripples the city and prevents its growth. The post-communist transition period resulted in a social, economic and cultural decline. After not having been able to pay their employees for twenty months, many museums in Sarajevo were forced to close.
As artists we are interested in the way imagination can influence the real, physical world. The process of imagination – the inner creative activity, a resource we all have at our disposal – is the starting point of our project. Our Time Travel Experiments offer one a chance to engage with the past, present and future of a city on another level of consciousness, outside of everyday discourse, and to discuss what one has envisioned. We conceive of the city as an extension of one’s body.
The Sarajevo Time Travel Agency was a temporary travel agency through which Sarajevo residents could book an individual tour of the city of Sarajevo – one that would take them though time. Ranka Katalinski and Andrea Soldo, two experienced local psychologists whom we met during our first visit to Sarajevo, familiarised the travellers with our methodology* and guided them. The images and memories the time travellers made on their journey were incorporated into the accompanying exhibition as drawings, audio recordings and texts.
As artists in this interdisciplinary team we also participated in the expeditions ourselves and discussed our visions with our co-travellers.
The travel agency and the exhibition were organised together with the Duplex100m2 gallery and the curator Darija Šimunović and took place over the course of four weeks. From the 2nd to the 30th of April 2016, ten time travel experiments took place in the parlour of the Duplex 100m2 exhibition space and were attended by a total of 50 participants. We thank all those who have participated for the trust they have placed in this artistic experiment and for sharing their imaginations with us.
*The methodology we developed together with Jenia Georgieva and Roumen Georgiev, the directors of the Milton Erickson Institute in Sofia, is rooted in the research by Milton H. Erickson, the founder of modern hypnotherapy. Together with Aldous Huxley, who used it as a writing technique, Erickson experimented with different types of light trance (analogous with an induced daydream). He used mental time travel to evoke images from the past, introducing new perspectives in the process, in order to finally develop a vision of a possible future self. Following his approach, together with local residents we undertake time travels through cities, visiting them in their past, present and future in order to develop an image of a possible self in a possible city.
Video Animation: Gudrun Teich
Speakers: Katja Davar, Kate Dervishi, Joanne Moare and Peter Miller
Puppeteers: Jasminka Požek-Božuta and Sanjin Arnautović
Sound design: Bear Cave, Cologne
Transcripts: Ajla Eljsani-Arnautlija
Translations: Ena Selimovic
Curated by Darija Šimunović, with friendly support from Kunststiftung NRW, Academy of Media Arts Cologne, Goethe Institute Sarajevo, ifa-Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, Duplex100qm2 and agnes b. endowment fund