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MARIJIN DVOR

This thriving Sarajevo neighbourhood is not only home to new structure, but individuals nourishing its identity with their affection and courage


written by Jim Marshall
guest editor Haris Piplas

Mirus magazine
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issue no 2Marijin Dvor, Sarajevo

  • page 01

    cover

  • page 5

    Editorial

  • page 8

    From Ottoman to independence

  • page 13

    Crossfires of hope

  • page 25

    The Siege of Sarajevo

  • page 28

    Miss Sarajevo

  • page 35

    Cultural siege

  • page 39

    Behind closed doors

  • page 46

    Dynamic urbanism

  • page 51

    Place of transformation

  • page 62

    Creative ingenuity

  • page 76

    How I lost the war

  • page 80

    Mozzila man

  • page 83

    In motion

  • page 90

    Visionary Bosnia

  • page 95

    Preserving the history

issue nø 2

MARIJIN DVOR

In our second issue, we travelled to the Balkans and ended up in a tiny little neighbourhood in Sarajevo, called Marijin Dvor. A district that already in its 50`s was envisioned as a «city of the future» by Corbusier`s protégé Juraj Neidhardt. The utopian plans didn’t evolve as fast and with the declaration of independence of Bosnia & Herzegovina, a brutal war in the country and the siege of Sarajevo resulted.
We have met with long time resident Jim Marshall who has been right at the forefront of Sarajevo’s past, his personal recollections are at times suspenseful, but also reveal why he fell in love with this multi cultural hot spot. Marijin Dvor is a place of transformation; Mirus spoke to various young architects and «urban activists» in the neighbourhood who are revamping old and war-torn structures and attempting to deliver new purpose with small micro-interventions.
During our stay in Sarajevo, we encountered many fascinating personalities such as Elma Hasimbegovic — who invests all her force into keeping the doors of the Historical Museum open. And Bojan Hadzihalilovic who is the «creative godfather» of Sarajevo and paves the way, for new generations to come.
Sarajevo is a fascinating and emotional place. The traces of war are still very much present and the wounds may never fully heal, but «Sarajevans» don’t protest their past, instead they look forward, knowing that the city and its citizens are alluring and ready to handle this 21st Century.
Thanks for stopping by and supporting independent storytelling.

Stefan Jermann
Founder, Editor-in-Chief

 

SLAVIC TRIBES, OTTOMAN EMPIRE

AND FINAL INDEPENDENCE

written by Jim Marshall

Sarajevo’s first human settlements date back almost 4,500 years to the Butmir area (close to where Sarajevo International Airport is now situated). More than 90 urban settlements, as well as a plethora of weapons, tools and domestic utensils have been unearthed at this location. Remains of Illyrian settlements from the Bronze Age have been located in Debelo brdo, Zlatište, and at Soukbunar, all of which are areas still inhabited and are close to the centre of present-day Sarajevo.
The Romans, having conquered the Illyrians in the 1st century A.D., established the town of Aquae Sulphurae in modern day Ilida, as evidenced by villas, baths, mosaics and sculptures that have been unearthed. Slavic tribes arrived from the north in the 7th century and asserted dominance over the course of the following centuries. Bosnia established itself as an independent state in the 12th century.

In the middle of the 15th century the settlements that existed in the Sarajevo valley were annexed by the Ottoman Empire, with 1461 accepted as the date of the establishment of the city by the Turks. The name of the city relates to the Ottoman governor’s castle, ‘Saray’. The city grew significantly over the next two centuries, with intensive building in the 16thcentury leading to a population estimated at over 80,000 by the middle of the 17th century. 

During this period from the 15th to 17th centuries, many of the buildings that comprise the present-day Old Town were constructed, including a number of the city’s most notable mosques, such as the Emperor’s Mosque and the Gazi Husrev-bey Mosque, as well as drinking fountains, market places, inns, and the Old Orthodox Church. Also of note during this period was an influx of Jews, firstly Sephardi fleeing Spain and Portugal, then Ashkenazi fleeing Hungary.

A Yugoslavian bank note during the time when Yugoslavia was still a Kingdom.

The Old Roman Catholic Church in what was then the Latinluk area of the city was destroyed along with much of the rest of the city when Prince Eugene of Savoy’s forces sacked Sarajevo in 1697 during the Great Turkish War. Ottoman Sarajevo never fully recovered from this and subsequent fires, plagues and periods of social unrest, coupled with the transfer of the seat of Bosnian government to Travnik, weakened the city’s status and prospects. However, libraries, schools and places of worship were built and rebuilt, and the city’s tradition of pluralism remained relatively intact.

Sarajevo city

A street in Sarajevo during
Austro Hungarian occupation.

In the early 1830s, as the Ottoman Empire’s fortunes continued to decline, Bosnians openly revolted against the Empire. Other subsequent rebellions were suppressed up to the middle of the 19th century and the political and social fabric of Ottoman rule continued to unravel over the coming years. 

Sarajevo was the first city to have a fully functioning tram way system.

AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN RULE USHERED IN AN AGE OF RAPID CULTURAL AND POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT AS WELL AS BROAD-BASED INDUSTRIALIZATION OF SARAJEVO. THE LATIN ALPHABET BECAME MORE WIDELY USED, TRAMWAYS AND RAIL LINES WERE ESTABLISHED, AND THE CITY WAS ELECTRIFIED PRIOR TO THE 20TH CENTURY.

Following the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78, the Treaty of Berlin resolved that Bosnia and Herzegovina was to nominally remain under the sovereignty of the Ottoman Empire, though it was de facto ceded to Austria-Hungary. Austro-Hungarian rule ushered in an age of rapid cultural and political development as well as broad-based industrialization of Sarajevo. The Latin alphabet became more widely used, tramways and rail lines were established, and the city was electrified prior to the 20th century.  Many buildings that comprise present-day Sarajevo were constructed during this period, such as the Town Hall, the National Theatre, the National Museum and the Post Office.

August Braun was an Austrian man who came with nothing but a suitcase to Sarajevo and soon became a well respected business man. «Marija's Castle» was a two story house he built for his wife Maria. The people called it castle, because at this time it seemed ridiculous to build such a huge house for just one person. The castle set the name for the neigborhood of Marijin Dvor.

«ON A VISIT TO THE RADIO STATION DURING MY FIRST WEEKS IN SARAJEVO, I WAS SHOWN FILM FOOTAGE OF THE SIEGE SET TO THE MUSIC OF BOB MARLEY’S ‘REDEMPTION SONG’.  I HAVE NEVER BEEN MOVED SO MUCH BY ANYTHING ON A SCREEN BEFORE OR SINCE. I LEARNED TO PLAY POOL WELL AND LEARNED TO SPEAK BOSNIAN BADLY.  JUST AS IN «CLUB OBALA», PEOPLE WOULD PARTY LIKE THEY NEVER DID BEFORE THE SIEGE AND NEVER HAVE SINCE.  THEY WOULD PARTY LIKE THERE WAS NO TOMORROW BECAUSE PERHAPS FOR SOMEONE PRESENT THERE WOULD BE NO TOMORROW.»

CAUGHT IN THE CROSSFIRES OF HOPE, DEATH AND HASTY DREAMS
Story by Jim Marshall
Photography by Juan Fabuel, Jim Marshall, Stefan Jermann

HINT→ TOUCH THE TEXT WITH YOUR MOUSE OR FINGERS AND DOUBLE CLICK TO ONLY READ THE TEXT

1'216 DAYS
Besieged Sarajevo existed in this world but was not of this world. The Serb forces that besieged the city, said to number as many as 18,000 troops, controlled every aspect of the daily lives of Sarajevo’s citizens. Extreme food shortages, coupled with constant deprivation of water, electricity and gas, erased all resemblance to normal life. Every small and big decision made by every individual during every day of the 1,216 days of the absolute military siege of the city was never fully his or hers to make, with even continued existence contingent upon the daily selection of targets by Serb gunners and snipers. Indeed there were no small decisions during the siege of the city, as such decisions involved deciding whether to run, stop, hide, stay inside, or go out and face more grave danger but at least feel alive.

Time was truly relative. It would stop and start, speed up and slow down, as fear and adrenalin played tricks on your mind. When you felt like screaming you would find yourself laughing. When you felt you were dreaming you would find yourself awake, talking to others or just to yourself. Any given day was punctuated by moments of horror, bliss, desperation, comfort, hopelessness and awe.

 The sound of the wailing of civil defence sirens was almost as terrifying as the sound of the shells they’d precede. The sound of sniping would constantly break the silence in the valley; sudden single bursts of death being delivered. Despite having already spent close to half a year in war-torn Mostar, I had no concept of what to expect when I first arrived in besieged Sarajevo, crossing Mount Igman at sunrise on a frozen winter morning as the snipers slept. I knew I had to rapidly work out where would be safe and not safe to go. I quickly learned that I needn’t have giving it much thought as nowhere in the city was truly safe to go. Some places were simply more deadly than others.

Personal belongings from during the siege exhibited at the Historical Museum in Sarajevo

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I knew when I arrived in Sarajevo that the area of Grbavica and much of the area around the Old Jewish Cemetery were under Serb control but I had no idea where they were.  I had somehow got it into my head that Grbavica was a distant suburb, perhaps next to Mount Igman, and that the Old Jewish Cemetery was perhaps 14 or 17 or even 20 kilometres from the city centre, somewhere up in the mountains, beside some beautiful forest with a crystal clear stream, the perfect setting for an old cemetery. It came as a terrible shock to learn that the Old Jewish Cemetery was right on the edge of Grbavica and that both were right on the edge of the city centre. From the Marijin dvor area of the city centre, you could virtually count the gravestones in the cemetery and see the colour of curtains in the Grabavica apartment blocks that towered over Sniper Alley.  It was from the upper floors of these apartment blocks that snipers would fire down into the streets of Marijin dvor.

Original pictures were taken by photographer Ron Haviv who shot the most iconic images during the siege of Sarajevo. The background image displays the original facade of the historical museum.

After having spent just a few days in the city, I couldn’t imagine how anyone in Sarajevo had remained in any way sane during the siege up to that point, not only because of the horror but also the utter surrealism of it all. A large hand-painted movie ‘poster’ of Wyatt Earp with two pistols hung on the side of a building overlooking one of the city’s main junctions. People would run for their lives from sniper fire and pass underneath it, while right across the junction a man who would often wear nothing more than a towel bound around him like a diaper would cheer for them as they ran.  He himself never ran, indeed it was rumoured at the time that the snipers kept him alive for their own amusement and also in the hope that he’d infect everyone else with his insanity. One fog-bound morning, further along the main street from there, while I crouched in a doorway to shelter from shelling, I heard opera singing and then a woman appeared in the mist in full costume.  She stared into space as she sang, her voice echoing off the ornate but broken Austro-Hungarian buildings around us.

Half-crazed dogs would howl all night and garbage would burn all day. Yet life would go on all around you: Young lovers would kiss, old people would chat in doorways, and coffee and pita would be consumed. The electricity would come on after a day or two just as the water went off.  The gas would come on after a week or two just before the electricity went off.  The water would come on and you’d have to run around your apartment filling the bath and also plastic bottles and buckets because it could just as easily go off again any minute and not return again that day or the next day or the day after that. The toilets in café bars, where the cisterns would seldom have sufficient water to flush, had a specific stench so overpowering that, while using the toilet, you would try to hold your breath for 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, to avoid retching. (image below: Bullet holes in facades can be seen up to this day as a silent reminder of the siege.)

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«IF SNIPERS WERE IN A GOOD MOOD THEY WOULD SHOOT AT WHATEVER PEOPLE WERE CARRYING (A BAG OR A CANISTER) BUT THEY WERE SELDOM IN A GOOD MOOD SO THEY WOULD JUST SEND MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN TO THEIR GRAVES.  IN THE FACE OF THIS BARBARITY, SOME PEOPLE WOULD SPRINT ACROSS EXPOSED OPEN GROUND TO THE SAFETY OF A WALL OR BARRICADE AND THEN REAPPEAR FOR A SECOND RAISING A MIDDLE FINGER IN THE DIRECTION OF THE SNIPERS.»
Jim Marshall

The yellow building in the background is the Holiday Inn which was the headquarters of the international media during the siege. It mostly remained untouched but the front of the building shows bullet holes until this day

«A COUPLE OF MONTHS AFTER I ARRIVED, THERE WAS ELECTRICITY ONE MORNING SO I WATCHED THE VICTORY IN EUROPE CELEBRATIONS ON AN OLD TV.  EUROPE’S LEADERS HAILED ‘FIFTY YEARS OF PEACE’.  THAT SAME DAY A SERB SHELL KILLED 8 AND WOUNDED 40 OTHERS IN THE BUTMIR AREA OF THE CITY. AROUND THIS TIME I HEARD A WOMAN SCREAMING TO DEATH ON SNIPER ALLEY FROM THE BUILDING IN WHICH I WORKED.

DAYS LATER A WHITE PHOSPHOROUS SHELL LANDED RIGHT BELOW THE WINDOWS.  I HAD NO IDEA WHAT WHITE PHOSPHOROUS WAS AT THE TIME.  WHY WOULD I?  WHY WOULD ANYONE?  BUT AN ELDERLY LADY FROM SARAJEVO WHO WORKED WITH ME CLEARLY DID KNOW BECAUSE SHE PUSHED A WET TOWEL INTO MY FACE AND TOLD ME TO BREATHE THROUGH IT.  AROUND THAT SAME TIME SHE MADE SOME PRETTY AWFUL GOULASH ONE DAY, WHICH I SAT DOWN TO EAT JUST AS TWO BULLETS PIERCED THROUGH THE PLASTERBOARD WALLS.  I THEN TOLD HER I WAS TOO SHOCKED TO EAT IT.  SHE THEN SIMPLY ADVISED ME TO MOVE TO A SLIGHTLY SAFER ROOM AND NOT COME BACK UNTIL I HAD EATEN IT ALL.  REFUSAL TO EAT WHAT IS PUT IN FRONT OF YOU IS NEVER AN OPTION WHERE BOSNIANS ARE CONCERNED, NOT IN ANY SITUATION.»


Jim Marshall

I REMEMBER HAVING TO PUSH AN OLD YELLOW VW GOLF, STRANDED BETWEEN THE HOLIDAY INN AND THE UNIS TOWERS ON A BRIGHT SUNNY DAY, CLEARLY EXPOSED TO THE SNIPERS.  AN ARMOURED JEEP FILLED WITH PEOPLE WEARING FLAK JACKETS AND HELMETS PASSED BY, MAKING IT COMPLETELY OBVIOUS THAT I HAD CHOSEN THE WRONG JOB

There were few cars and no filling stations so diesel was for sale on the street, usually next to markets.  As it was scarce you would fill a reserve canister (a plastic bottle would suffice) and keep it in the back.  Every vehicle you got into therefore smelled of diesel and would be driven insanely fast, except after dark when they would be driven insanely fast with the lights off.  And cars would constantly break down due to their old irreplaceable parts.  I remember having to push an old yellow golf, stranded between the Holiday Inn and Unis Towers on a bright sunny day, clearly exposed to the snipers.  An armoured jeep filled with people wearing flak jackets and helmets passed by, making it completely obvious that I had chosen the wrong job.

If snipers were in a good mood they would shoot at whatever people were carrying (a bag or a canister) but they were seldom in a good mood so they would just send men, women and children to their graves.  In the face of this barbarity, some people would sprint across exposed open ground to the safety of a wall or barricade and then reappear for a second raising a middle finger in the direction of the snipers.

YOU JUST WANTED TO LIVE.
AND TO LIVE
YOU HAD TO RUN.

Jim Marshall

I was becoming gradually more fearful as weeks and months passed.  I had a bulletproof blanket that I believed would protect me from night shelling if I just made sure that it covered my feet.  It was just a regular blanket.  One night I took three times the recommended dose of strong sleeping tablets that a friend gave me on a night of heavy shelling.  I didn’t sleep a wink.  Sometimes I would wake in the morning and be too terrified to leave my apartment.  But suddenly, somehow, adrenalin would kick in, strangely from the feet and up through the legs, then into the rest of the body.  I would then just grab my keys, lock the door, go out and start running.  You had to just live and to live you had to just run.

In the midst of the breathtaking inhumanity of the siege of Sarajevo, there was a quite unbelievable and unbreakable sense of humanity.  Young people would risk their lives to fetch water for the elderly; children would smile when you’d expect them to scream; people would share whatever they had with others who had nothing; and ordinary citizens would apologise at length for the state of their apartments (“sorry about the state of our couch”, “sorry about the state of our coffee cups”), as well as their English language skills, their ‘fucking politicians’, the state of their lives in general, and other things for which they should have been the last people in the world to apologise. “Sorry”, they would say to me, “that you never visited Sarajevo before the war when it was the most beautiful city in the world”.  I was sorry about that too. I’m still sorry about that.

There was an amazing liveliness to a city where death could await you just around the next corner.  I would regularly visit Club Obala, and would almost always feel a little intimidated, as I would almost always be the only foreigner there.  Yet it was an incredible place, wild and absolutely vital to the cultural scene during the siege.  I would wonder at the appropriate names of bands popular in Sarajevo at the time: Massive Attack, Bad Religion, Rage Against the Machine.  A friend told me in Obala one night that an old message from Ratko Mladic ordered the people of Sarajevo to surrender and Rage Against the Machine singing “Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me!” seemed like the only appropriate response. I would constantly listen to Radio Zid.  On a visit to the radio station during my first weeks in Sarajevo, I was shown film footage of the siege set to the music of Bob Marley’s ‘Redemption Song’.  I have never been so moved by anything on a screen before or since. I learned to play pool well and learned to speak Bosnian badly at FiS.  Just as in Club Obala, people would party there like they never did before the siege or after.  They would party like there was no tomorrow because perhaps for someone present there would be no tomorrow.

Occasionally, ‘narcotics’ ‘police’, who were really a form of press-gang and little more than thugs, would raid bars such as these.  Not only held captive by the Bosnian Serb Army and their maniacal leaders in the nearby town of Pale, Sarajevo’s young were often reminded by a sinister minority amongst them, on the payroll of the ‘fucking politicians’, that they were not free to live, never mind not free to leave. Leaving was always an option for me, not a simple procedure but still always an option. It separated me from my friends, who were unable to. For my friends and their families even the relative safety of Sarajevo’s small neighbouring towns – Tarčin, Pazarić, Kakanj, Visoko, Kiseljak - were as distant as the moon. I spent many months under siege but my friends and their families were besieged for years: unable to even dream of the outside world, unable sometimes to even leave their basements.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jim Marshall is a photographer, writer and an active citizen. He has lived and worked in Sarajevo since the start of 1995, with the exception of a year in Belgrade.  This native Scotsman has travelled to every major and not so major settlement in Bosnia and Herzegovina and to most of the major settlements in the neighbouring countries. 

Jim has seen many things change for the better and many things change for the worse. The photo series „before and after“ is part of the permanent collection of the Historic Museum of Sarajevo and has reached international attention. Jim Marshall is married to a woman he met as no more than a girl in Sarajevo, when he was still no more than a boy and they are parents to a Bosnian son.  
 

VISIT JIM MARSHALL

Jim Marshall photography, Sarajevo

Several weeks after I did eventually leave I returned to Mount Igman to reenter the city as I had done many months before. My plan was to take a bus that would wind its way through the forests on muddy, improvised logging routes to the northeastern edge of the mountain and walk down with the other passengers, as was the custom during the siege. However, a little more than halfway through the journey, a British soldier boarded the bus at a checkpoint in the middle of nowhere and ordered the driver to return back down the mountain. I did however manage to negotiate getting off the bus and I was taken to a French base at the old Olympic ski-jumping venue. And there I slept in a tent for two nights, constantly asking my French hosts when the road would reopen down to the city only to be informed that it was closed for unspecified security reasons. But I dined on French military ration packs, which were known to be the best.

On the afternoon of the third day a French soldier asked if I would like to hike up to higher ground with him, so we set off just as evening was beginning to set in. We finally reached a far more elevated position as darkness fell. He produced a bottle of good Cognac from his rucksack and after a while we had a relaxing smoke as his radio crackled ever more frequently.  I then heard a slow distant rumble and remember him saying, “And now it begins”.   Just minutes later the sky over in the direction of the city was orange and there were massive booms in all directions. We were witnessing the beginning of the NATO air assault on Serb positions across the country and the end of their military stranglehold over Sarajevo.

I THEN HEARD A SLOW DISTANT RUMBLE AND REMEMBER HIM SAYING, “AND NOW IT BEGINS”.   JUST MINUTES LATER THE SKY OVER IN THE DIRECTION OF THE CITY WAS ORANGE AND THERE WERE MASSIVE BOOMS IN ALL DIRECTIONS.

I returned to a different Sarajevo two days later, winding down the mountain in an APC that constantly had to squeeze by massive pieces of heavy artillery. There were constant bombardments from these positions, as well as from the sky, with enormous plumes of smoke reaching skyward from Serb-occupied areas all around the city. People in Sarajevo were at first euphoric but then furious. Furious that NATO were able to break a three and half year siege in just a couple of days; furious that the international community could obviously have made this happen at any time over those three and a half years but chose not to; and furious that 11,541 lost their lives as the international community simply sat back and watched. 

Over the next six months, until the siege was formally lifted after the reintegration of formerly Serb-held suburbs, a semblance of normal life returned slowly to Sarajevo’s streets. People were able to wander the city, taking their time, trying to adjust from the daily routine of bombardment and slaughter to an unpredictable peace.

Perhaps more importantly people were eventually able to leave the city and tens of thousands made the three-hour journey to the Croatian coast in the summer of 1996 for the first time in many years. Thousands of people were reunited at Sarajevo airport; their reactions to seeing loved ones again were heartbreaking, joyous and a beautiful sight to behold.Twenty years later, the siege remains horribly real in the memory and yet highly unreal. Some events you remember with great clarity while others escape you, even though you were there. Friendships forged during the siege are deeply fraternal, and are quite unlike ordinary friendships. The landmines that once surrounded the city are mostly all gone, while the war graves that fill the city’s cemeteries remain.

Sarajevo was besieged because it has always possessed special qualities that are antithetical to the fascist ideologies of those who besieged it. Sarajevo survived the siege precisely because of these special qualities.

PEOPLE IN SARAJEVO WERE AT FIRST EUPHORIC BUT THEN FURIOUS. FURIOUS THAT NATO WERE ABLE TO BREAK A THREE AND HALF YEAR SIEGE IN JUST A COUPLE OF DAYS; FURIOUS THAT THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY COULD OBVIOUSLY HAVE MADE THIS HAPPEN AT ANY TIME OVER THOSE THREE AND A HALF YEARS BUT CHOSE NOT TO; AND FURIOUS THAT 11,541 LOST THEIR LIVES AS THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY SIMPLY SAT BACK AND WATCHED.

 

11'541 lives 1'216 days

AND YET WHERE THERE WAS DEATH THERE IS NOW LIFE, AND WHERE THERE WAS HOPELESSNESS THERE IS NOW VIBRANCY AND PURPOSE, AND WHERE SARAJEVO ONCE WAS — IT STILL REMAINS. 

The war that ravaged Sarajevo and claimed over 11,541 lives, including those of 643 children, began on the 5th of April 1992, following several weeks of barricading and the deployment of JNA (Yugoslavian National Army) artillery to strategic points in and around the city. On this date, two young women, Suada Dilberović and Olga Sučić, were shot dead by Bosnian Serb paramilitary snipers during a peace demonstration. The bridge on which they were killed, that was subsequently situated in no-man’s land during the siege, is now named in their honour. The siege of Sarajevo formally began on the 2nd of May 1992 with a complete military blockade of the city, and formally ended on the 29th of February 1996 following the reintegration of several previously Serb-occupied areas of the city.

The siege was characterised by a deliberate and systematic process of murder and brutality in which densely populated areas were routinely targeted by Serbian heavy artillery and sniper fire.  A number of significant massacres punctuated the siege, beginning with an early attack on a bread queue in the city centre on the 27th of May 1992 (26 killed), through two attacks in the suburb of Dobrinja in the summer of 1993 -

one on a football game (15 killed) and one on a water queue (13 killed) - to the city centre Markale market massacres of the 5th of February 1994 (67 killed) and the 28th of August 1995 (43 killed). However, the siege was principally punctuated by almost daily attacks that took the lives of thousands of Sarajevo’s citizens of all ages and of all ethnicities.  

Extensive destruction of the city’s buildings and infrastructure were another key feature and indeed objective of the military siege of Sarajevo.  This was typified by the deliberate targeting of non-military buildings.  Those destroyed during the siege included the National Library, the Olympic Museum, the Olympic indoor arena ‘Zetra’, the Oslodođenje newspaper building, schools, public utilities, religious buildings, and even the city’s maternity hospital and main old people’s home.

Throughout the siege, Sarajevo’s citizens lived largely without water, gas and electricity, existed on pitiful quantities of food, had limited access to medicine, and were forced to endure a neutral international military presence (UNPROFOR) that consistently stood by and merely watched the premeditated slaughter of innocent civilians as a result of a cynical, politically expedient refusal to differentiate between principal aggressors and principal victims during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

For despite a U.N. presence in Sarajevo even prior to the outbreak of hostilities and a decision from the U.N. Security Council in the spring of 1993 to declare Sarajevo a “safe area”, UNPROFOR troops were themselves increasingly targeted and killed by the VRS (Bosnian Serb Army) as the siege dragged on. So unprepared and unwilling was UNPROFOR to properly defend the people of Sarajevo and so cognizant were the besieging VRS of this fact that even the Bosnian Deputy Prime Minister, Hakija Turajlić, was killed by a Bosnian Serb soldier near Sarajevo airport on the 8th of January 1993 while sitting in a U.N. armored vehicle.

Following the second Markale massacre on the 28th of August 1995, NATO intervened with an air campaign – Operation Deliberate Force – that seriously degraded the military capabilities of the VRS and effectively signalled the beginning of the end of the siege of the city. Western critics of military intervention and U.N. representatives had always argued that such an intervention would not break the military siege – in effect it did so even after just the first 72 hours of air strikes.

Perhaps the most decisive battle during the Sarajevo siege, in which only the courage and resourcefulness of the city’s defence forces prevented the VRS from driving such a wedge through the middle of Sarajevo that the city may have subsequently fallen, was centred around a bridge with a name that represented the very tolerance that the city’s besiegers betrayed and the city’s defenders valued: ‘Brotherhood and Unity’. For true citizens of Sarajevo of all ethnic backgrounds still celebrate their diversity, exercising an impressive, natural tendency towards tolerance.

The siege lasted 1,398 days and is the longest in modern human history. Sarajevo still bears significant physical scars from the siege: the walls of its buildings are visibly pockmarked and houses on its hillsides remain devastated. Sarajevo’s citizens still bear significant psychological scars, and continue to mourn the thousands lost to the siege, as everyone in the city knew a number of victims personally.

And yet where there was death there is now life, and where there was hopelessness there is now vibrancy and purpose, and where Sarajevo once was — it still remains.

STRALA

VISIT STRALA

MISS SARAJEVO

HOW A JOURNALIST, TWO SISTERS AND AN IRISH ROCK BAND
BROUGHT MORE AWARENESS TO THE WAR IN BOSNIA THAN
ANY OTHER MEDIA OUTLET AT THAT TIME.

An interview with Selma and Lejla. Written by Stefan Jermann

During a time when the World Wide Web, viral YouTube videos and mobile devices were out of this world, it was hard to imagine what was really happening in Sarajevo during the siege. There were crowds of international journalists stationed at the Holiday Inn and a few few photographers who stayed or flew in to document the massive faces of war. Then, there was this young journalist by the name of Bill Carter. A young fellow, maybe somewhat looking for a purpose in his life. Bill signed up with an organization called “Serious Road Trip” that supplied food and the most necessary things to places where ordinary aid organizations would not dare to go. The team was a mix of idealists, punks and outsiders.

Eventually Bill ended up in Sarajevo.

  «AS LONG AS THERE IS WAR,
YOU ARE ONLY FEEDING THE GRAVEYARD»
Leijla Pacevic

Most residents who made it out of Sarajevo early enough, had left. The others either wanted to stay, had no money to leave or nowhere to go. There were very few folks, except for the media who entered this valley of “hell”. But this American guy wasn’t in it for the story; he wanted to help and soon realized that the only way he was able to contribute to stalling this madness was by his imagery and somehow telling the story.

Fast-forwarding: While strolling the streets of Sarajevo, I literally gaze at the traces of the siege, lots of war torn buildings, bullet holes everywhere. Crossing the bridge where the first two people were killed, crossing the street where the widely reported story coined as “Romeo and Juliet” — a young and beautiful couple passing the sidewalk, shot by snipers in an instant, occurred. They died embracing each other, the bodies were left there on the street for weeks or even months, cause it was too dangerous to recover them. I couldn’t help but to “déjà-vù” all those images again and again in my head.

I always, for some reason had this U2 song with a guest appearance by Luciano Pavarotti in my head. Maybe because I went thru a tough break up a couple a years ago, and maybe this song saved my life. But mostly because I remembered those two girls in the video, jumping thru a hole in the wall, looking back at the camera one last time and then they both run in slow motion.

They run for their lives — crossing “sniper alley” – a large avenue, exposed to the snipers and deadly if you chose the wrong moment — everything that moved got shot. As tragic as the story was, the imagery was beautifully shot, it had an energy that just perfectly fit this song: “Miss Sarajevo”.

His office was in close proximity to the Holiday Inn, two modernist skyscrapers, glass from top to ground. The first tower had been completely destroyed by Serbian snipers — or as the locals would refer to them as »Chetniks«*, Bill was located in the tower behind. The place was occupied by aid organizations, military and for instance also French Special Forces who were shooting Serbian snipers stationed on the hillside. Jim Marshall, a Scottish longtime resident of Sarajevo and good friends with Bill remembers: “There were legendary parties at this place while the electricity went on and off. Otherwise there was just routine daily madness. Once I remember how they dragged a French sniper down through the debris on the stairs, he wasn't beathing anymore, got wiped out by the other side...”

I couldn’t help it, but I wanted to find out more. What was behind this story – was it all an orchestrated set up, for one of the most acclaimed rock bands in the world to gain just a bit more attention for their good-deeds beside the music? And was Bill Carter and the sisters just a myth, called to life by a great ghostwriter? I was about to find out and I asked our guide Jim about Bill and the sisters: “Oh Bill is a good friend of mine, and yes I know the sisters, I can put you in touch.” I sent Selma an email, asking to meet but she was hesitant and said that her sister Leila is much more keen and knows how to talk to the media. So we emailed and made an appointment at this bar called “Meeting point” that hugely displays banners and posters of an American whisky brand out of Tennessee. As I wait for Lejla, I wonder if I’d recognize the girl that looked quite nerdy in the video sequence, with glasses way too large. So nerdy in fact, you just wanted to cuddle her. I go to the meeting point a bit early and what the heck, I order a cup of this »Tennessee« stuff.A couple of minutes later, an attractive young lady with a great smile and sparkling eyes greets and hugs me.

Wow, am I thinking: she really exists and she is neither jaded by the horrors of war, nor would she abide talking about her story. A couple of minutes Selma also joins us, her initial doubts about the meeting seem to have evaporated.

How did you end up in the movie “Miss Sarajevo” that was directed by Bill Carter?

Bill just appeared one day and then he asked us if he could take a picture as we cross “sniper alley”. We basically got so pissed off at this guy trying to get a great shot while we risk our lives. We told him that we’d do it if he runs together with us first (Lejla laughs). And you know: Bill ran with us and we were so impressed. That’s when this friendship all started. I remember that after we invited him to our house and my mother made a cake out of bread for all of us. Everybody had very little to eat during war, there were no problems of obesity (we all laugh). Then, we hadn’t seen Bill in a few days and got worried a bit, all of a sudden; he knocks on the door with a bag in his hands. Inside was an entire chicken for our family. It was an incredible moment. 

We barely had any food and then this guy shows up with meat, something that was rare and fed us for about a week. It was a feast. After that, Bill started filming and taking pictures. It felt completely natural to us, we never had the impression that we were being filmed in this sense.
 

What was the deal with U2, Sarajevo and you guys?

Around 1993 U2 was playing with the idea of coming to play in Sarajevo. Of course that would have been too risky and logistically impossible, cause it was all a war zone. Bono was interested in the topic, but it was unclear on how that help could be spread to a huge mass. Bill basically sent Bono a fax, telling him that one possibility was to do live feeds from Sarajevo while the show was happening. In 1993, the last show of the U2 world tour happened and we had a live appearance where we had a couple of minutes to get our message across. I remember saying that: “As long as there is war, you are only feeding the graveyard.” It was absolutely great that Bill as the initiator of the live feeds gave us a window to the outside world that we could communicate to.

Do you remember the first day the war started?
The first day of war actually lasted for a few days (laughs). My mom told us that there were barricades on the streets, demonstrations, loud music…. Then the snipers killed those two women marching peacefully and that’s where it started.

This might sound strange, but let me ask you, was there anything that was better during the war, as opposed to now?Before the war, people were living an ordinary life. During the war, people were happy to be alive and seemed to also live life to the fullest at times. After the war ended, people got back to their ordinary slow pace.

Background image by Bill Carter, movie still taken from Miss Sarajevo

After our talk I ask Selma and Lejla about this scene in the movie where you see the hole in the wall, sort of the opening to the outside world. We jump into Selmas car and all drive to Marijin Dvor where their parents still live. We enter a small hallway and then there is a tiny courtyard and this wall that has been fixed up a bit and and one can still spot where the hole used to be. Selma is pointing at the hole:” This was our gate to the world during the war:” I look to my right and see two smart and educated women, and, I look to my left, at this wall and I see the film sequence of Bill Carter, two girls stepping thru that hole, starting to run, smiling back one more time at the camera and then they run in slow motion.

What was the first thing you did after the war?

I went for a month and  a half to Amsterdam, I played music in this band that I got and I just did all the things that we couldn’t do during the war. Stuff that crazy 16 year olds do in Amsterdam, you know…

Sarajevo has huge potential. The wounds are still being healed, despite the fact that people don’t talk about the war, doesn’t mean it has been forgotten. There is a young generation that wants to change and sees opportunities, then there is the others that just complain. One of the main myseries is that after the war, we didn’t have this rebuilding of the country, we didn’t get a boost in the economy or entrepreneurship, things just sort of stalled and that is really a shame. Now things are slowly changing, Bosnians abroad are coming back with skills and this is one of the big hopes for our economy.

A CULTURAL SIEGE
OF HISTORY

Elma Hasimbegovic’s handshake is firm:”Welcome to the Historical Museum of Sarajevo.” She finishes her cigarette while we have a little chat on the stairs of the main entrance. I am still not quite sure whether that entrance is part of the show, because I spot grass growing out of the stairs and bullet holes in the  facade — it looks a bit like a backdrop of a movie — one that has seen the faces of war and has not recovered since.

Text, photography Stefan Jermann

Elma Hasimbegovic, historical museum Sarajevo

Elma Hasimbegovic at her office in the Historical Museum
which is located in the Marijin Dvor neighbourhood.

BEFORE THE WAR, THERE WAS A STAFF OF 42 PEOPLE. IT HAS SHRUNK TO A MERE 16 AND MOST OF THEM LIKE ELMA WORK FOR A SYMBOLIC SALARY.

We sit down in Elma’s office that comprises of a few basic looking pieces of furniture, it feels like time stood still here, but Elma takes it with a smile:” You know, after ’95 nobody took care of the funding responsibility for the museums in the ministries. There are a total of seven museums and we all face the same problem, we are all on the verge of being shut down. Everybody gets more funding than museums here, even NGO’s.”

Lets face it; after all, most museums around the world are struggling unless generous donors support them. But, I am wondering: Isn’t a historical museum to be preserved and taken care of in a special sort of manner by the governing authorities? Cause after all — that’s where the history, thus its identity of that country is archived. Elma agrees, but she points out the various people and parties that govern Sarajevo and the lack of interest in presenting that history to a wider audience makes it tough to keep doors open. She reaffirms: ”Heritage is important!”

 

Elma at the permanent exhibition of the siege
with a bicycle that someone donated to the museum.

WHEN BEING ASKED WHAT THE FUTURE PLANS FOR THE MUSEUMS ARE, I GET A BOLD AND HONEST ANSWER: ”WE DO NOT THINK ABOUT THE FUTURE, WE OPERATE ON A DAY TO DAY BUSINESS. THIS IS A CULTURAL SIEGE! 

«YOU HAVE TO BE EXTREMELY RESOURCEFUL IN ORDER TO MAKE THE DAY TO DAY LIFE, IT IS IN FACT VERY MUCH THE SAME AS DURING THE WAR!»

 

Before the war, there was a staff of 42 people. It has shrunk to a mere 16 and most of them like Elma work for a symbolic salary. She elaborates that the museum mostly attracts tourists, but the goal is to have more locals visit as well: “Marijin Dvor is becoming a new center of Sarajevo and that is good for us.” But still, how do they manage to operate a museum with basically no money. And I mean if you look at the place you will understand what I mean with no money. e government, she and her small staff are pretty much left on their own.

This museum feels like a sailboat that survived countless battles, has been severely hit and damaged, but manages to keep its course with a courageous captain who attempts to create things out of nothing. Institutions and curators from all over the world have been paying attention to this young and charming lady, managing and protecting a substantial history: ”Elma explains that there is support such as from the British Council or individuals who help, even the people from the “Tate” have been here to have a look. Last year, we had the international war photographer Ron Haviv come by and as he saw that his photographs were badly damaged, he replaced them at no cost.

Elma takes me trough the museum. Right at the entrance she points out a collection of photographs by Jim Marshall. He photographed some of the most important locations during and right after the war and then he juxtaposed that exact same shot with a photograph taken about a decade later. Those photographs have gone viral around the web and given huge awareness of the destruction, but also are proof that rebuilding has taken place. Then we walk to the upper level where a large part is dedicated to the siege and how people lived their lives during that time. Canned foods supplies, self-built radios, improvised stoves and historic documents and photographs depict a dark chapter of Sarajevo. Despite the fact that the exhibition feels very much improvised, it is amazing on how with such little means, the impact to the viewer is enormous and moving in its own way. Then we enter the “archive” of historic documents, which is not open to the public, and Elma elaborates that there are lots more documents in the basement. The room lacks any professional climate control and the shelves and books feel deserted. I hate to make comparisons, but any library at a primary school in a developed western country has a better library/archive.

But what can one do if there is absolutely zero money to improve the situation, even worse if there is no interest from the governing side to do something against it. Elma raises her eyebrows. She is well aware of the situation, but to improve infrastructure more funding is needed, substantialy more funding…
Elma remarks that the museum is operating on such a low financial level, it could send a wrong message to the authorities, because they simply think that if “they” manage to do it, why would we want to support them more?

 In the end it is a fight on two frontiers: One is to keep the day-to-day operation running and the other is to manage to get the minimal financial support from somewhere. Every other museum director would have probably given up at this stage, but Elma Hasimbegovic is not exactly your “ordinary” CEO of a museum: She runs the place with lots of idealism, she cares for this place as if it was her home. The staff and everybody supporting the museum are more like family than people on a pay roll. Those are probably the main reasons why the doors of the historical museum have not been shut down yet.

BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
The National Museum of Bosnia & Herzegovina

HOW NATIONWIDE TREASURES, INCLUDING THE 600 YEAR OLD JEWISH «SARAJEVO-HAGGADAH» ARE ABANDONED AND DESTINED TO TURN TO DUST, UNLESS A MIRACLE HAPPENS SOON

The garden of the National Museum used to be a green oasis for families and kids, now it is a "ghost-yard".

This historic tomb-stone is said to be the one of the medieval Bosnian King Stjepan II who died in 1353.

IMAGINE YOUR LOCAL MUSEUM OF NATIONAL TREASURES, FILLED WITH ARTIFACTS AND HISTORIC PIECES FROM ARCHEOLOGY OF THE OLD STONE AGE TO THE LATE MIDDLE AGES, THE NATURAL HISTORY, ETHNOLOGY AND A LIBRARY CONSISTING OVER 250’000 BOOKS — SIMPLY LEFT ON ITS OWN. IN ANY OTHER PLACE, PEOPLE AND POLITICIANS WOULD DEMONSTRATE THE STREETS TO GET THE PRIORITIES STRAIGHT, BUT HERE IN SARAJEVO, THINGS ARE A BIT DIFFERENT.

WE SPOKE TO ANA AND MISRAD, TWO PASSIONATE ARCHEOLOGISTS WHOSE JOB HAS BEEN SEIZED WITH THE SHUT DOWN OF THE MUSEUM.

Ana Maric was an archeologist at the National Museum, specializing in the Late Iron Age.

The last museum director put a "closed" sign on the door to show his sign of protest (Photo Juan Fabuel).

«History repeats itself, but the special call of an art which has passed away is never reproduced. It is as utterly gone out of the world as the song of a destroyed wild bird.»
Joseph Conrad 1857-1924

Via several connections, we are finally able to meet Mirsad Sijaric, who worked until the closing day as an archeology curator specializing in the Mediaeval period. He circles outside the shut down entrance and waits for us. We are running ten minutes late and excuse the delay. He tells us to follow. Through a back entrance we enter the museums yard, which once used to be a green and lush garden, a beautiful escape from city life. There is a pond in the middle and historic tomb-stones everywhere, but what was once a little paradise has clearly seen better days. Sitting on a bench, we are greeted by Ana. Like Mirsad, she was also a curator, specialized in the late Iron Age.

Due to lack .em; of funding, the museum has now been closed for 2 years. Before the museum closed, both Mirsad and Anna still worked there without pay for one full year and then the case was deposited with the supreme court: “After more than two years, they couldn’t find anybody who is supposedly responsible for this matter at the court”, Misrad tells us. The operating cost for the entire museum including salaries for a staff of 60 was a mere 500 thousand Euros, the director only earned around 600 Euros a month, yet, that money didn’t make it anymore to the accounts of the museum. Somewhere along the lines it either got into other hands or it simply evaporated…

During the siege, the National Museum was a strategic place for the Bosnian Army. Many soldiers were located there, Misrad tells us — and one really interesting thing is that not a single of the treasures during that time were stolen. After the war ended, Sweden and the UNESCO helped rebuild the museum, while the local government didn’t support it with one Mark.  The building had suffered severe destruction and structural damage. Artillery shells crashed through the roof, over 300 windows were broken and lots of gallery walls destroyed. The museum director during that time, Dr. Rizo Sijari, was killed by a grenade blast in 1993 while he was trying to cover the holes with plastic UN relief sheets.

The major problem of preserving the heritage is that after the war, Bosnia & Herzegovina was divided into two entities. The Federation of Bosnia & Herzegovina, comprising a majority of Muslim Bosnians and Catholic Croats; and the Republic Srpska which is composed mainly of Orthodox Serbs. Both of those entities have their own state governments and their own view and attitude on what should be preserved.

Ana and Misrad take us to the interior of the museum, they show us the west wing first, which is deserted and empty. It is very humid inside and the air is far from enjoyable, there is neither heating nor climate control, basics by which means no museum in the world could operate, because humidity it acts like poison for those ancient artifacts.

But where do you store all things now, I ask: “Some we put in the basement, but of course there is also no climate control, its just that at least there is no roof leaking.” Misrad answers with a hopeless smile. We move towards the other wing and there old stones in various sizes are displayed, but it feels more like a storage room than an actual exhibit. As we move to the upper levels, Ana shows us ancient jewelry, beautifully little crafted sculptures and the such and they are all still in good condition. Then, we spot one room with a glass door in front and are being told that this is the only room that has climate control, because some of the most treasured books and documents are located here, but they are both not sure how much longer that bill can be paid.

Most of the artifacts have been removed, because rain or humidity would act as poison for those old objects.

According to Aida Cerkez from “The Times of Israel” the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has extended an invitation in 2012 to showcase the 600 year old Jewish Haggada, a manuscript that dates back to the 14th century that was the present of a wedding gift of a young couple in Barcelona, Spain is now known as the “Sarajevo Haggadah”. It is a 109 page text handwritten on bleached calfskin, it dates back to the Jewish community in Spain and describes the events ranging from the start of the Jewish exodus from ancient Egypt to the death of Moses. The Haggadah is estimated to be worth around USD 700 million.

The lending to the Met in New York did not happen, because simply no one could be found to pay for the special conservatory preparations to take the book to America where it was planned to exhibit the manuscript for three years.

The Haggadah at the National Museum. Preserved in the sole climate controlled room.

Nonetheless, I speak to Misrad again, a passionate archeologist with all his blood. His state of mind is a mix of joking disbelief and anger at the officials who let it come that far, letting it happen that a museum closes its doors after 123 years in operation. I wonder if it’s not a matter of time until the museums t his is a huge problem, that’s why curators and volunteers are now sleeping in various parts of the museum to protect the museum with their bare hands from intruders:

“IT WOULD BE SO EASY TO GET IN, JUST RIDICULOUS, THAT’S WHY WE HAVE TO PROTECT THE PLACE.”

After the tour “behind closed doors”, Almir Panjeta, a renowned journalist from Sarajevo joins me in the garden of the museum and shows me around the historic tomb stones. He points out that this garden once used to be a natural breathing zone for people who wanted to enjoy some silence within the city: “I came here every now and then with my wife to enjoy this wonderful garden, I hope they will find a solution to re-open that part of history soon again.

To the right: Misrad is a trained archeologist who used to work for the Museum, now he is without a job and income (Portrait Juan Fabuel)

1420909353548_MG_4378new

Not many contemporary cities have multiple historical layers legible from its facades and spaces. In the heart of Europe, in a less than a square kilometre and a few footsteps, this complexity is found – in the center of Sarajevo’s urban tissue, the Marijin Dvor area.

LEARNING LESSONS FROM A MULTI-LAYERED HISTORICAL LABORATORY AND ITS DYNAMIC URBANISM IN THE HEART OF «EUROPE’S JERUSALEM»

{Essay by Guest Editor Haris Piplas}

 

The gradual rise of complexities in our evolving society has been spatially manifested into our habitats. Their development has been affected by different constructive and destructive powers since our beginnings witnessing the brightest and darkest sides of the human nature. Especially cities as symbols of power, culture and progress have been put in the position of targeted destruction objects.

Nevertheless, not many contemporary cities today have a layered urban history hiding visible on its fabric. From introvert Ottoman urban form to Austrian neoclassical bourgeois villas to fascist and Olympic socialist architecture and landscape – a mélange of habitation varieties share one destiny, being objected to the urban crime of the crimes «urbicide» – and anarchistic incremental design of a young democracy and capitalist economy.

The "Unis" Twin Towers designed by Ivan Straus, were built in 1986. Straus also designed the Holiday Inn, which is in close proximity.

JURAJ NEIDHARDT'S MASTERPIECE AND THE VERTICAL TRADEMARK OF MARIJIN DVOR, THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY AND ITS SPACIOUS SQUARE BECAME THE MOST FIRST-ROW WITNESSES OF THE AFTERMATH OF THE IRON CURTAIN’S FALL. Haris Piplas

These spaces represented symbols of commonly-shared spaces providing sufficient for «equality» and «proletariat». The named challenges give Marijin Dvor  today a status of a unique urban laboratory housing a wide array of city development stakeholders: investors from Texas and the Arab Peninsula to local community initiatives that work with the existing context.

From the introvert Ottoman urban form to Austrian neoclassical bourgeois villas to fascist and Olympic socialist architecture and landscape – a mélange of habitation varieties share one destiny, being objected to the urban crime of the crimes «urbicide». Recent developments make the wounded cityscape even more colourful. A quick look at the semi-anarchistic incremental design of a young democracy and capitalist economy was added together with recent small-scale local initiatives.

Started as a suburb with scattered Ottoman houses providing a peaceful location for an Austrian industrialist August Braun and his beloved Maria to a playground for Juraj Neidhardt, a trainee of humankind’s most influential citymaker, «the father of the modern age»: Le Corbusier. Juraj’s masterpiece and the vertical trademark of Marijin Dvor, the National Assembly and its spacious square became the most first-row witnesses of the aftermath of the Iron Curtain’s fall. It became Yugoslavia’s Tahrir Square announcing an almost decade-long period of armed conflicts with ethnic, religious and nationalistic background that led to the disintegration of the Socialist Federation.

After the fall of the communist regime, a complete restructurization of the economies and political systems took place. Capitalism brought a shift from planned and centralized industrial production to a more service-based economy. Services for the new neoliberal economy rather aggressively materialized in form of shopping centers and other office and high-end residential buildings. The density rose, as parks and public spaces of the mono-functional socialist housing estates were replaced or sealed.

Neidhardt's vision of a modern life in Sarajevo around the 50's.

AFTER THE FALL OF THE COMMUNIST REGIME — A COMPLETE RESTRUCTURATION OF THE ECONOMIES AND POLITICAL SYSTEMS TOOK PLACE

A stamp named after Muhamed Kadic: The brothers Reuf and Muhamed Kadic returned to Sarajevo around 1930, after studying architecture in Prague. During that time, they both designed some of the most important modernist buildings in the city and collaborated on certain projects. Their work could be described as: "Yes to Modernism, but not at the cost of demolishing or degrading the historic urban matrix of Sarajevo".

Austro-Hungarian Sarajevo around 1905.

Marijin Dvor has always been open to intruders and locals can strive, battle, rise and fall. The proof of how political and social systems establish and vanish, how identities and urban artefacts are being suddenly eradicated and created, how construction and deconstruction happen all in a breathtaking velocity is literally burned and injected into Marijin Dvor’s multilayered skin.

It is a real challenge to explore what types of mechanisms shape the development of cities which survived recent blight violence and ruination but are also affected by contemporary urban phenomena: investor-driven commercial developments intertwined with alternative bottom-up initiatives that look at the social scales.

  What methods and techniques in urban design, planning and development should be applied to such environments? What urban management strategies we can propose to such areas? Where is the balance between using the experience from successful ones from the own past, the less successful where the city already learned from its mistakes and the introduced ones, as a reflection of the contemporary context?

   Realizing such a complexity, this issue of MIRUS Magazine looked at a plethora of phenomena, narratives, conditions, processes but also at their interconnection and correlation in order to understand past and presence. The presented materials illustrate different ideas that try to develop future perspectives for this complex area. Even during the data collection and field research sessions,  a dialogue that materializes in innovative and fruitful initiatives was started. MIRUS and its approach to look at micro environment prove to be applicable to the specific  characterized by opening new platforms and methods for dialogue and action between the numerous participants that operate «in situ» in the very moment you read this piece.

Haris Piplas is a PHD candidate and Urban Stories Lecture Coordinator at ETH Zürich at the Chair of Architecture and Urban Design under Professors Alfredo Brillembourg and Hubert Klumpner. Piplas is a citizen of Sarajevo and grew up in the neighbourhood of Marijin Dvor.

«HOW CONSTRUCTION AND DECONSTRUCTION HAPPEN ALL IN A BREATHTAKING VELOCITY IS LITERALLY BURNED AND INJECTED INTO MARIJIN DVOR’S MULTILAYERED SKIN.»
HARIS PIPLAS

Neidhardt's drawing for the National Assembly of the People's Republic of Bosnia&Herzegovina in 1956. 28 long years later, the construction started.

RAISINGAWARE
NESSOFNEGLEC
TEDSITES

RESTRUCTURING MARIJIN DVOR
A report on new functions for old structures,
formats and am
bitious utopias.

 

by Juan Fabuel
Additional still images Stefan Jermann and Lift

 

»MARIJIN DVOR IS A PLACE OF TRANSITION. THE REACTIVATION OF THESE AREAS INTERACT WITH THE PEOPLE BECAUSE THESE PLACES TELL THEIR STORY.«   Senad Alibegovic

1418836297427bing_mapred_mirus_marindvor

This is the root of Marijin Dvor. The gigantic palace that August Braun built for his wife is still there and the staircase has been well preserved.

  Not long ago the sense of brokenness surrounded the overall feeling towards Sarajevo, a place in which opposing forces collided in the 90’s destructing the social, economical and urban fabric. The ambiguity of a conflict that held such a devastating magnitude leaves many doors sealed with anger and fear, but opened up new and invisible ones towards a new «urban momentum» where unexpected and positive things are emerging.

In this very moment, as Manuel Castells points out: when a social system suffers a structural crisis it is forced to change either its goals or its means. When the goals are changed it becomes a completely different system but when the system alters its methods to achieve the untouched goals, then a process of social restructuration is launched.

«THE REASON FOR DOING THIS IS NOT JUST
ABOUT THE GARDEN, THE BUILDING
OR ITS BEAUTY.»

1417481930411_MG_3979

In this context we can place the new synergies currently occurring in the neighborhood of Marijin Dvor, a district in particular that suffered the atrocities of the conflict due to its unique geopolitical setting.“Marijin Dvor is a transition place,” tells Senad Alibegovic, architect in charge of reorganizing some of the spaces that were destroyed and organizer of the Architectural Student Congress 2014. “People cross this place coming from one place and going to another. Although it is a physical center one of its functions is to connect the two extremes of the city. “Functionally it is dead, but we are working on that”.

 

The neighborhood connects the different centers of the city, which are the obvious reference to the cultural perspectives that assembled Sarajevo through its existence. Senad walked me along the urban timeline, offering his vast knowledge about the importance of increasing the awareness of the abandoned buildings and the need to give new functions to these spaces. “Let’s raise the awareness of the neglected sites,” he says, meaning that if the people don’t see its value, the district will eventually loose its visual identity. 

All kinds of reasons varying from economic to political are behind these neglected places, but as Senad points out: “the reactivation of these areas interact with the people because these places tell their story. Finally someone who cares about the buildings! That’s what people said.”

«MARIJIN DVOR BECAME THE NEW CENTER THAT THE SOCIALIST IDEA NEEDED. THEY NEEDED A SPACE TO GATHER ALL THOSE DIFFERENCES AND MARIJIN DVOR IS THAT PLACE.»

Senad showed me «Mucha Lucha», a place completely destroyed during the conflict that has been given new functions and meanings these days. “Now it is a social space where we organize architectural events while enjoying the new possibilities that the district can offer. It is a multifunctional place that hosts concerts, talks or our events,” explains Senad. “In ten years it will probably be destroyed due to the massive capitalization and urban development of the district. More skyscrapers and malls will be built but we are trying to keep the minimum identity of the neighborhood, because the people that have been living here for a long time know how the city breathes and this way of breathing is essential to understand the space”.

 

The citizens directly connect this breathing to the understanding of the functions of the space and, when these functions are altered or destroyed, the connection with the space is also distorted. In this case, the job of the architects and urban planners is to give new functions and meanings to these constructions depending on the actual context.

Mejrema Zatric during the interview at the Holiday Inn in Marijin Dvor.

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In the background is the Sarajevo City Center which is an ultra modern shopping center, a 5 star hotel and commercial space and it is the largest commercial business space in all over Bosnia & Herzegovina.

Marijin Dvor offers three sides to every story, allowing citizens to time travel across the city. It contains the remains of what has been, what is and what will be, creating a very unique experience when visiting. The buildings are faithful witnesses of this transformation and the spaces tell us more than we can or want to hear, giving the loud silence a powerful meaning. In order to better understand this peculiar situation I asked Nedim Mutelevic about the transformative processes in the city. Nedim and his group called LIFT have been revitalizing certain spaces that have been neglected, keeping in mind that these acupunctural interventions are subject to a collective effort that will strengthen and improve the community and its dynamics.

One of the most iconic constructions of the neighborhood is a former brickyard by August Braun that represents his love for Maria, his wife. This former factory built in the XlX century and remodeled into a residential building is known as the origin of the district and a precious structure, holding the essence of the Austro Hungarian period. Due to external forces the health of the courtyard is not very promising. The beautiful internal garden had no proper care for a long time and LIFT – being aware of the benefits of small individual actions– decided to act and reorganize the space and not to wait for institutional help which might never occur. "LIFT generates very good synergies," says Nedim and adds: “it helps to release social and urban tension.”

RIGHT: SARAJEVO CITY CENTER (SCC) IS THE LATEST HIGHTECH BUILDING IN SARAJEVO THAT INCLUDES A US STYLE MALL, A 5 STAR HOTEL, RESTAURANTS AND APARTEMENTS.
ABOVE: THE UNIS TOWERS WERE ONCE THE SYMBOL OF MODERN SARAJEVO, DESTROYED DURING THE SIEGE, BUT COMPLETELY REBUILT AFTERWARDS.

The LIFT collective was founded in 2012, but before that Nedim and his colleagues worked as an NGO for several years. They decided that it was time for a change but this time the change would arise from the inside, not from the outside. The architectural events were almost nonexistent in Sarajevo seven years ago, leading towards a dispersion of the professionals and the isolation of the sector. “People were completely fragmented and our aim was to create common spaces and to unite the people. After the war people became more individual and we are working to change this attitude using our knowledge of space, materials and visuality.”
 

Keeping a clear vision of change and transformation in mind, LIFT organizes architectural events offering an alternative to previous initiatives. At first they would play an organizational role but as the attention for the events grew, they decided to be completely involved in the whole process of developing concepts, helping to fundraise and managing events from the inside out. This new mindset, as Nedim explained, took them to develop physical interventions in order to improve and refunctionalize certain spaces. An example is the garden by August Braun inside of the brickyard.

The fascinating tour across Marijin Dvor with my exceptional guides Nedim and Senad made me think about the necessity of keeping the emblematic and iconic scenarios of each particular place updated in a critical manner. Through the restructuration of these places people have the possibility to re-enact their emotional and historical links with a specific place and, as Josep Maria Montaner points out: “recycling these old infrastructures contains a double meaning: On one hand the functional sense of reuse and on the other one the symbolic sense that increases the collective memory value.”  

If truth were told I find Montaner’s way of thinking gently connected to the architects Muhamed and Reuf Kadic, which in the 30’s designed some of the key modernist buildings in Sarajevo. They embraced Modernism but always keeping in mind not to damage the historic urban matrix of Sarajevo. This logic of protection and preservation is present as well in the aim of Nedim and Senad in finding a new role for the abandoned spaces in contemporary urban life, while indicating to the local community their value and implementing strategies to keep them alive. The symbolic value of these buildings should be understood as a crucial factor in the development and establishment of the identity of a certain society. In this specific case the citizens of Sarajevo and particularly the residents of Marijin Dvor.

After all the time spent in the district, I got to discover the real need for change that the citizens have. At this point all potential options are open but the consequences of an unplanned urban development are dangerous because they too exist. Unfortunately, this is the easiest choice most of the time.

I did not want to skip the opportunity to chat with Mejrema Zatric, –someone who truly understands this subject– and to get a deeper insight about all these matters. Mejrema is an architect and a PhD candidate at the ETH in Zürich since 2012. She has the vision of somebody who has experienced these issues as an “insider” culturally speaking, but that also possesses an “outsider” and holistic perception due to her physical distance with the city.

The parliament building was completely destroyed during the siege, the reconstruction was financed by the govt. of Greece and it was completed in 2007.


“It is not easy to find the essence here,” says Mejrema. “Sarajevo and especially Marijin Dvor are very complex places to understand. The colliding external forces and different superimposed cultural contexts made this place evolve in unexpected ways. In this that we are experiencing at the present time, it is important to notice that Sarajevo faces a non globalized Cosmopolitanism, a tendency towards portrayed in the construction of new malls with gigantic and shiny digital screens. Right now there is an exceptional here in Sarajevo with a fraction of the citizens trying to be closer to a European mentality.”

During our conversation Mejrema explained to me all these ideas using specific buildings in Marijin Dvor as examples. She talked about the Holiday Inn –designed by Ivan Straus –as a clear example of a building constructed in the 80’s with the essence of the American architecture, even though the political and social systems were radically opposite. “The place has a pathos, the building is connected to some sort of good energy that displays the bravery of the architect. Back then, this building made the city look normal, exactly like the shiny malls make the city look normal nowadays. This district was designed in the 50’s to be the center of the new socialist Sarajevo.” They needed a place to gather all those different faces of the city and the urban plan of Juraj Neidhardt was meant to reach that goal. The ideas and structures of Neidhardt, the only paid assistant in the Paris studio of Le Corbusier — emphasized the integration of architecture and landscape, suggesting urban scenarios between utopia and pragmatism. In reality, as Mejrema mentions, “Marijin Dvor never became the center of the people because most of those big initial projects were never accomplished."

This is what is left of the telecommunications company that was destroyed during the war. Now it is transformed into a social meeting place that goes by the name "Mucha lucha" — where people meet, listen to good music and exchange ideas.

Asking her about the “aspects of transition” that Marijin Dvor ought to play these days, Mejrema agrees with Nedim and Senad that all those small initiatives carried out in an independent way, will aid to making the community stronger and the cities growth visible. “But in order to make the metropolis more livable, we need to plan according to the real needs and the current context”, she says, stressing that a certain amount of organization and balance between the elements can help to simplify the unresolved dialectic between function and form. Mejrema fired out a last question seconds before I left and kept me busy thinking about the importance of distant proximity: “Can we develop without a distant mind?”

Drifting through the streets of Marijin Dvor after these conversations one is capable to understand a bit more about its complexity and cryptic role. A place like this district — designed to be the new center, but ending up serving as a space of transition between the extremes of the city– contains an invisible tension that all these young and talented architects and urban planners are trying to control and re-direct through their interventions. The ideal city needs to have a certain amount of tension, some sort of characteristic discomfort that behaves like the pins and needles you feel in your arm after it wakes up from being asleep. This brings the words of the American artist Richard Nonas back to my memory: “The scars of a city are important. They are the source of energy, the source of life. What I see is that irritation, is that itch, just slightly uncomfortable on your back and you can’t reach it, so you have to go up to the wall and rub your back against the wall. But it makes you aware that you have a back. Because who thinks about the back?” Wise words articulated during a conversation that occurred a long time ago and helped me discover the invisible stamina, which makes a city real.

Luckily in this particular case, Mejrema, Nedim and Senad are able to think about the city’s back and offer potential scenarios to improve the urban quality of life while taking the importance of keeping the Bosnian identity alive into consideration. They are young; they posses a cosmopolitan mind when it comes to liveability, sustainability and communal effort and they understand the relevance of a distant mind to think creatively.


Even if bureaucratic barriers make feasible things almost impossible to achieve and the long shadow of the armed conflict will never be completely invisible, the will to rethink the space, its functions and the connection with the people is bigger than any administrative or legal trouble. Mejrema, Nedim and Senad through their works and knowledge of the urban condition, revealed that the power to connect people, ideas and places, is stronger than the effort and negative force used to destroy them.

CREATIVE
INGENUITY

WHILE SARAJEVO MADE ITSELF A NAME IN URBANISM AND ARCHITECTURE BY SUCH NAMES AS JURAJ NEIDHARDT, MUHAMED AND REUF KADIC OR LATER ON IVAN STRAUS WHO BUILT THE UNIS TOWERS AND THE HOLIDAY INN, WE HAVEN’T HEARD MUCH ABOUT ANYTHING IN THE FINE ARTS OR GRAPHIC DESIGN WORLD EVOLVING OUT OF THE “JERUSALEM OF THE BALKANS”.

 

Photography, story by Stefan Jermann
Additional images by Trio, Bojan Hadzihalilovic, Bojan Kanlic, Juan Fabuel
Background image "Festina Lente" bridge
Dingbat font by Nina Mesina

AT LEAST NOT UNTIL THE SIEGE OF SARAJEVO. THAT’S WHEN THREE YOUNG GRAPHIC DESIGNERS THAT WENT BY THE NAME OF «TRIO» STARTED CREATING POSTERS AND POSTCARDS, TITLED AS «GREETINGS FROM SARAJEVO» THAT SPREAD THE MESSAGE OF STRUGGLE IN A WAY THAT HAS NOT BEEN SEEN BEFORE.

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Bojan in a classroom at
The Academy of Fine Arts, Sarajevo

 

Bojan Hadzihalilovic, Dalida Durakovic and Lejla Mulabegovic formed the design collective «TRIO» and by the end of the 80's, they became the most famous graphic designers in Sarajevo, a completely new and unknown sort of "pop art meets punk" genre in a socialist state. Now, some twenty years have passed and Bojan has become the creative director of one of the largest advertising firms in Sarajevo and at the same time he is the chair and a professor of the graphic design department at the Academy of Fine Arts. While he is looking after the younger generation as a teacher and mentor, he is running his own business and is involved in many different projects.

Whether that is creating ad campaigns, corporate identities or a book project for Tarik Samarah who now also hosts a permanent exhibition in Sarajevo of the photographs he took while he was documenting the Srebrenica Massacre. Bojan had arranged for me to meet up with Tarik and have a chat with him. First we looked at the exhibition, which is thoughtfully curated and well put together. One can not help, but to get goose bumps from this shocking piece of Bosnian history. Yet, some of Tarik’s photographs transport an alluring poetry and lightness — but reviewing the entire exhibition is vigorous and emotional. It is now on permanent display as a constant “memorial” for all visitors and its population.

THE DESIGN COLLECTIVE «TRIO» WAS FORMED BY BOJAN HADZIHALILOVIC, DALIDA DURAKOVIC AND LEJLA MULABEGOVIC AND BY THE END OF THE 80'S THEY BECAME THE MOST FAMOUS GRAPHIC DESIGNERS IN A COMPLETELY NEW AND UNKKNOWN SORT OF "POP ART MEETS PUNK" GENRE IN A SOCIALIST STATE. DURING THE WAR, TRIO ACCLAIMED INTERNATIONAL FAME BY CREATING SIMPLE POSTCARDS TITLED AS «GREETINGS FROM SARAJEVO» THAT SWIFTLY SPREAD ACROSS THE BORDER.

«WE LOOK AT SOME OF THE STUDENT’S WORK DISPLAYED AND BOJAN DISCLOSES: “THE YOUNG GENERATION IS MORE CREATIVE THAN WE WERE, THERE’S GREAT OUTPUT HERE, BUT THEY NEED TO ELEVATE THEIR CREATIVE LANGUAGE IN ORDER TO SURVIVE ON THE MARKET; AND AT THE SAME TIME NOT SELLING OUT TO CALLOUS COMMERCIAL WORK THAT IS SOLELY ABUSING THEIR TALENT.”»

«THE VERY FIRST STEPS FOR MY PROJECT STARTED WHEN I USED TO WALK FROM MY HOME TO UNIVERSITY. I STARTED NOTICING ASPECTS OF THE CITY THAT HAD BEEN INVISIBLE TO ME. THEN I BEGAN TO PAY ATTENTION TO THESE INVISIBLE AND NEGLECTED PLACES, MAPPING THEM OUT AND DISCOVERING THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE PLACES THEMSELVES AND THE POSSIBLE POTENTIAL THEY CONTAIN.» 
AJNA ZATRIC

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«SARAJEVO IS CREATIVELY HYPERACTIVE, BUT VISUALLY A MONOTONOUS CITY THAT’S STRUGGLING FOR ITS IDENTITY.»

One of those very accomplished people is Ajna Zatric, who is a former student of Bojan. Ajna and Bojan have been collaborating on various projects. Her core focus is to mapping the urban fabric away from a “grey and dull zone as Anja explains: ”Sarajevo is creatively hyperactive, but visually a monotonous city that’s struggling for its identity." The Urban Calendar for the City of Sarajevo is a public art project of Zatric, consisting of 12 ideas carefully integrated into urban fabric. The Urban Calendar is an art piece that is not for sale.  It is an attempt for the city to gain a contemporary image and seeking a discourse of exchange with its citizens.

Another “creator” of importance in Sarajevo is Nina Masina: A vastly talented illustrator, graphic artist and font designer. In each of those categories Nina has been stirring quite some buzz. Whether she designs the latest book covers for novels in the league of Khaled Hosseini, Orhan Pamuk or Paulo Coelho, or designs for magazines and commercial clients — her signature style has crossed far beyond the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Nina Masina

DINGBAT
DESIGNER

Lately, Nina has stepped into a new venture and that is the «Sarajevo Dingbat Font». She analysed and first photographed the objects, buildings and architecture in Sarajevo that she particularly liked. For every letter; she has created a symbol that represents an iconic piece of history in Sarajevo. The project has gotten such massive attention that the Dingbats are now being produced as tote bags, posters, postcards, refrigerator magnets — the list is endless. Nonetheless, Nina is not exactly able to retire on the money she earns. She lives in a cute, but humble little one bedroom apartment with all the very few tools that she works with. Lately she has started to sew quite a lot in order to make prototypes of bags, pillows and purses. While many artists in that discipline have completely moved to digital, a lot of Nina’s work is truly handmade and boosts her very own signature style, which has received international attention.

Nina is well aware of the city’s recent past, but she points out that manifesting the war repeatedly in art pieces is getting old: “There are other great topics within the city besides the war that creatives can identify with.”

Nina’s work is colour- and playful, yet her brushstroke’s are sophisticated and transport a fragile quality with a well thought out colour range that is never screaming or looking for attention, because the drawings and illustrations speak for themselves.

FESTINA LENTE

In 2007 Bojan Kanlic won a contest together with his classmates Adnan Alagic and Amila Hrustic to have their design of a bridge being realized. At the time, they were three product design students at the Academy of Fine arts and competed against reputable design studios and architecture firms: “When we won the contest it was like a shock and at first people were laughing, because they were thinking that we are just kids.” That was in 2007; some five years later the project actually turned into reality and got realized. "The basic idea of the bridge is the union of the secular and spiritual," explain the designers, noting that the academy was formerly a church. "The loop on the bridge acts as a symbolic gate."

That’s 38 meters crossing the river — the construction was pre-fabricated and then finished on the spot. The “Festina Lente” bridge consists of a steel and aluminium construction and in the looping part you can sit and have a rest and it is equipped with sophisticated LED lights. Bojan reveals: “Before there was no way to cross the river, you had to walk all the way to the other end. Now, this acts as a connecting link.” While I visit the bridge a few times during my stay in Sarajevo, it is heavily frequented by families, tourists, students going to the Academy or people just wanting to see one of the nicest «little» attractions in Sarajevo.

Sketches of the "Festina Lente" bridge.

»THE IDEA OF THE BRIDGE IS A CONCEPTUAL MIX OF HISTORY AND PHILOSOPHY. THE ACADEMY OF FINE ARTS WAS BUILT DURING THE VIENNA SUCCESSION THAT IS WHY THE BRIDGE HAS AN ORNAMENTAL CONCEPT.«   
BOJAN KANLIC

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Bojan in front of the Festina Lente bridge in Sarajevo

In my opinion, the "Festina Lente" bridge stands for much more than "a little architectonic sensation" that can be credited to three students that were at the tender age of twenty something when they won the contest. It is a manifestation of a new and modern Sarajevo, one that has conquered the wounds of war, one that is looking forward and apparently remains welcoming to the «unaccustomed». After all, this city needs a break and deserves more «micro-interventions» such as the Festina Lente bridge.

What Sarajevo really needs is not another ultra modern mall or more skyscrapers; it urges more quality public space at no cost to the citizen. There is green space, there are gardens, there are buildings that can be re-used or transformed for new playgrounds and innovations. Most of it is already there, now it demands more individuals like the ones we feature in this issue that stand up and fight for their city, people that care for the long run and don’t’ take «no» for an answer.
STEFAN JERMANN

AN INTIMATE TALK WITH THE PRINCIPAL
OF THE MARIJIN DVOR PRIMARY SCHOOL

Interview, photography by Stefan Jermann

 

NESTLED IN A QUIET CORNER OF MARIJIN DVOR, I MEET PROFESSOR KENAN VUCIJAK, THE PRINCIPAL OF THE PRIMARY SCHOOL OF THIS TINY NEIGHBOURHOOD THAT WAS ONCE THE HOT SPOT DURING THE SIEGE OF SARAJEVO. PEOPLE WHO LOST THEIR HOMES FOUND REFUGE TO HIDE FROM BULLETS, SHELLING AND THE KILLING COLD WINTERS.

 

DESPITE THAT, LESSONS WERE HELD, BUT AT TIMES ONLY 20 MINUTES A DAY, BECAUSE THE DANGER WAS JUST TOO HIGH. KENAN WELCOMES US WITH A SMILE AND WARM HANDSHAKE, AN INSTANT TRUST AND SENSE OF HOSPITALITY IS ESTABLISHED.

 

HOW I LOST
THE WAR

«THE UNEMPLOYMENT IS DISASTROUS! THERE ARE SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND PEOPLE WITHOUT A JOB DUE TO THE BAD ECONOMY, I’D LIKE TO GIVE YOU A DIFFERENT ANSWER, BUT THE PERSPECTIVES FOR OUR YOUNG PEOPLE ARE BAD.»

Kenan comes across as a caring and fatherly person of the school, he is a man who is grounded and one who knows his past, but also sees the present and the future less bloomy than younger generations to come: „You know, this school was built in 1959 and during the construction, every citizen had to bring at least one brick to build it. It is also the only school in Bosnia which is named after a jewish writer.“ There is a total of 76 primary schools in Sarajevo, but his school is one of the few that is very mixed and hosts pupils from over 13 countries.

 

Education is the door to a better world and the parents are well aware of that, explains Professor Vucijak. However, before the war, the parents were happy that children were looked after with discipline, now they complain about the faculty when their kid gets a bad grade. He says that with a smile, but also knowing that times have changed.

 

     KENAN DOESN’T FEEL POWERLESS, BUT HE KNOWS THE REALITIES THAT GOVERN HIS COUNTRY.

When we ask him about the future perspectives of his pupils, Kenan sighs and remains silent for a moment to reflect: „The unemployment is disastrous — there are six hundred thousand people without a job du to the bad economy, I’d like to give you a different answer, but the perspectives for our young people bad. Nonetheless, the kids fortunately remain positive and they tend to believe that things will change by the time they are adults.“

One of the major problems in this tornado of turmoil is the nationalist party, they seem to be much more interested in business, instead of education. The money that is budgeted by the ministry of education never seems to make it all the way to the school:„We are missing infrastructure, chairs, desks and heating in the winter time“ explains Mr. Vucijak. The only way to cover the expenses is through help with NGO’s that support the school at times. And another problem has surfaced which is the safety of the school, thus its pupils:“Each of the parents is contributing 1 Mark per day to employ a security guard in order to protect the school.“

It feels a bit like this war has never ended. Even though the fighting is now over, this professor is hopelessly fighting against a monster of bureacracy, corruption and politicians that care more about putting money in their own pocket, instead of supporting education that should breed future leaders of this country. Kenan doesn’t feel powerless, but he knows the realities that govern his country.

«WE PARTICIPATED IN THE "CULTURAL LIFE" AND WE PRETENDED LIKE THIS WAR IS NOT HAPPENING. THAT MADE US STRONG AND IT KEPT US GOING.»

Kenan lights up another cigarette and takes a puff. While he reflects and looks out the window, I ask him how life is now different to before the war. He tells us in all honesty:“During the war, people were close, we always met at this same bar where it was save to go. People cared about each other, we were interested in each other’s problems and thoughts, it felt like we were all a little family. We participated in the culture life and we pretended like this war is not happening. That made us strong and it kept us going. Now, I don’t even see my neighbour for months at a time, everybody only cares about themselves, the social interaction is really poor.“

Professor Vucijak elaborates that he expected war to come, but then as it actually happened on May 26, everybody was surprised and terrified:“We expected everything to be over in seven days. At first I just fired my gun at the aggressor, then it got more organized. I was fighting for three full years and then in 1994 I came back to school to teach.

After we talked about for an hour, I realized that despite the somewaht hopeless situation of this school and the system, Kenan is a deeply loving man who cares for his „children“ and wants to provide a better future, no matter what measures he has to take. As I am about to put my notebook and camera away, he comes over to me and whispers: „You know, I might have a title for this story: «This is how I lost the war»“.

 
 
Kerim Kalamujic, mirus magazine, issue 02

Kerim on the basketball court of his former school. He was a student of Professor Vucijak in Marijn Dvor and he now operates an IT firm in Sarajevo. He devotes part of his spare time to educating children and preparing them for their future.

Photography Stefan Jermann

«I OWE IT TO MY PEOPLE TO REBUILD SARAJEVO.»

 

«I AM VERY AMBITIOUS AA INND I LOVE CHALLENGES! A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO I SENT AN EMAIL TO MOZILLA, EXPRESSING THAT I WANTED TO WORK FOR THEM. MY FRIENDS JUST LAUGHED AT ME, SAYING THEY WOULD NEVER RESPOND. WITHIN 24 HOURS I GOT A RESPONSE AND STARTED IMPLEMENTING MOZILLTO THE BOSNIAN LANGUAGE.

IN 2009 WE REGISTERED MOZILLA IN BOSNIA AS A NON PROFIT ORGANIZATION. THIS WILL HAVE A HUGE IMPACT ON BOSNIA AND ESPECIALLY THE EDUCATIONAL ASPECT. I WANT TO PASS THIS KNOWLEDGE ON TO THE NEXT GENERATION.

 KERIM KALAMUJIC

«I empower the young generation to go out and shape their own life's.»
KERIM KALAMUJIC

«BOSNIA IS A GREAT SPOT FOR IT AND WEB DEVELOPERS, WE HAVE A HIGHLY SKILLED WORK FORCE. I'D LIKE TO USE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO CREATE JOBS FOR BOSNIANS IN ORDER TO HAVE A PROSPEROUS FUTURE.

   HOWEVER, PEOPLE NEED TO UNDERSTAND THAT THEY HAVE TO WORK HARD FOR THEIR SUCCESS. IT IS IMPORTANT THAT THE YOUNG GENERATION STARTS THINKING "OUT OF THE BOX" WITH THE MINIMAL MEANS WE HAVE HERE. THIS IS THE ONLY WAY WE WILL BE ABLE TO GENERATE NEW OPPORTUNITIES. I EMPOWER THE YOUNG GENERATION TO GO OUT AND SHAPE THEIR OWN LIFE'S!

DURING THE WAR I LIVED IN MARIJIN DVOR AND I WITNESSED THE DESTRUCTION, I WATCHED MY FRIENDS GETTING WOUNDED AND KILLED AND THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT KEEPS ME HERE. I WANT TO SEE SARAJEVO AS A REGIONAL HUB FOR ECONOMY, CULTURE AND SPORTS. RIGHT NOW WE ARE OFF BALANCE, BUT IN FIVE YEARS I WANT PEOPLE TO SEE THAT CHANGE WITH THEIR OWN EYES.»

Marijin Dvor in motion

MIRUS met up with an urban dance crew, a free runner
and some young folks on wheels

photography by Stefan Jermann

FRESH GENERATION

«We want to encourage young people in Sarajevo!»

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Fresh Generation has been running an urban dance school in Sarajevo for five years and they have anywhere from 70-100 students. The focus is on Hip Hop, Street Style/choreography and old school stuff as they call it.

CATCHING AIR

WITH BENJAMIN BAKOVIC

BENJAMIN BAKOVIC IS THE ONLY PROFESSIONAL PARCOURS FREE RUNNER IN SARAJEVO AND ONE OUT OF THREE IN THE WORLD SPONSORED BY AN ENERGY DRINK GIANT. HE OPERATES A "PARCOURS" SCHOOL, WORKS AS A MODEL AND IS CURRENTLY STUDYING LAW. WHENEVER HE HAS TIME, HE USES ANY POSSIBLE OBSTACLE AS IF IT WAS MADE FOR HIM.

    GIRLS AND BOYS
SKATE ALONGSIDE

Right behind "Maria's Castle" we spot a skate park that is used by all kinds of disciplines and ages. From people climbing on that weird iron sculpture to girls testing their skating skills, rollerbladers doing insane tricks and old school bmx folks. Despite the fact that good public spaces are rare, public parks for leisure even more so, whenever temperature allows, people are outside and socialize.

To the right: Dino Karic on his BMX and Riana Jaha, an aspiring skater.

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VISIONARY BOSNIA

While I had previously arranged to meet with Bojan Hadzihalilovic, a creative director and the head of the graphic design department at the Academy of Fine Arts, he rings me up on my cell and says we ought to meet at BosMal, he'd like to show me the future of Bosnia and introduce me to his companion Charlie. I am not sure if I understood the name and he repeats: "Bosnia and Malysia makes BOSMAL, understood?"

Text, photography by Stefan Jermann

Edin Saracevic at the shared office hub. To date "387" is the biggest start-up operation he has undertaken in Sarajevo. If it turns out to be a success, it could become a model for other cities in the Balkans. Saracevic spends 2 weeks out of the month in Sarajevo, the other 2 weeks he works on his ventures in the States.

«WE WANT TO SPARK THE ENTREPRENEURIAL MINDSET OF THE YOUNG GENERATION AND HOPE TO CREATE SOME SORT OF A HUNGER TO REACH OUT FOR GOALS AND VISIONS.»  Edin "Charlie" Saracevic

Before meeting with Bojan, I did some prep work, even though little personal information could be found on him. His name first claimed international attention during the siege where he, his now wife and a colleague acted as »Trio« - a design collective that created postcards depicting the absurdity, horrors and the sarcasm this conflict brought about. I was eager to meet the guy, after all I somewhat had the impression that he is the creative brain of Sarajevo and had become a propeller to help push the younger generation.

After a short taxi ride, Bojan greets me with a smile outside of this post war skyscraper. I was not particularly impressed by its architecture, but certainly by its size

 Bojan elaborates that they planned a mall in this building, but the space remained deserted, there was no demand for things like that. :”Let me show you something. This is a future vision for Bosnia that has just started to take off. We are transforming those empty spaces into a creative IT hub for startups and established IT companies, plus we just started an academy where we train the new generation in creating apps, coding and most of all on how to start a new business. We want to spark the entrepreneurial mindset of the young generation and hope to create some sort of a hunger to reach out for goals and visions. Words that have not been in the mindset of the young generation until recently, but now we see change happening.”

We enter a modernist hallway with lots of glass windows and see people working behind computers everywhere. Companies developing cutting edge »IT« solutions on a transnational level. Then staff folks of the newly established IT academy greet us. One quickly forgets that we are actually in a former mall; the space is clean, modern and ready to be used. We learn that courses have just started and the response is huge. Finally, it seems, doors are opening up for the younger generation and they get the opportunity to learn and take courses with international credited staff that have a proven track record. They are all working professionals and want to share their knowledge and give back, explains the head of marketing, Kenan Salihbegovic, of Academy 387.

Bojan takes us down one floor and into a colorful and modern large size office that boosts a fresh and clean look. Where I am greeted by Edin Saracevic, the founder and mastermind of the 387 concept. Saracevic also likes to call the operation “IT Disneyland” because it should become a playground for the young and ambitious where projects are encouraged, discovered and eventually seed funded. Edin Saracevic is dividing his time between Sarajevo and the United States, where he has become a successful serial entrepreneur and multi millionaire, founding and co-founding various startups. 

He is one of those 3 million Bosnians that left the country during the war and spread all over the world. Saracevic tells me that the Bosnians living abroad are one of the countries biggest assets. By starting the 387 hub it is now time to give some of the fortune back to the new generation, says Saracevic, but on the other hand, the gifted venture capitalist is a business man and he envisions to create some sort of a “mini” Silicon Valley, even if that comparison is a long stretch, as he admits himself. In a recent interview for Forbes Magazine, Edin points out that Bosnia remains a country where ethnic divisions between the Moslem Bosnians, Orthodox Serbs and Catholic Croats continue to create obstacles for businesses. “To do everything here takes 10 times more effort than other places,” he says. “You can’t just take concepts from the United States and cut and paste. There are huge cultural differences.”

«YOU CAN’T JUST TAKE CONCEPTS FROM THE UNITED STATES AND CUT AND PASTE. THERE ARE HUGE CULTURAL DIFFERENCES.»

EDIN SARACEVIC

The concept of the 387 hub is visionary and it unites people with exactly those visions under one roof. First of all Saracevic is renting out office space to various IT startups that are already operating on an international level. They are smaller companies anywhere from 5 to 20 staff.

Then there is Nest71, which is a shared office space that provides infrastructure. You can just rent a desk for a day, a week or a month and it gives young people a chance to interact with others that are in the same field, rather than experimenting at home all by themselves. Plus, there is the Academy that shall breed the new generation of IT entrepreneurs.

 When I ask Saracevic about the future of Sarajevo, he is very optimistic, despite the huge youth unemployment rate (At 60,4% Bosnia & Herzegovina’s youth unemployment is amongst the highest in the world according to the statistics of the World Bank). He points out that the young generation need be given opportunities to develop ideas and visions. “The potential is there, Bosnians are smart and fast learners and Sarajevo has the potential of becoming an important place on the IT map in the Balkans.

 If the 387 hub concept works out, Saracevic might take the business idea to other neighbouring countries and open new branches, so far the focus is on Sarajevo and the response has been huge. Even the “Academy” which just opened — is running on full steam. So here comes a Bosnian guy that speaks the American entrepreneurial language as if he never did anything else. At the same time he understands the complexity of his country's culture. And, the guy is not just in it for the big buck; otherwise he would have not opened shop at a place that is known for ridiculous bureaucracy and corruption.
The motivations behind are “to give back” and rebuilding a country that is still severely suffering from a post war trauma.While other countries have gotten an extreme boost after the war, Bosnia has been lacking that kind of economical support ever since. While becoming part of European Community is one of the top priorities in Bosnia, only time will tell if that would alter the situation for the better, as other countries such as Greece have proven quite the opposite. As for now, the hopes are clearly in the hands of people such as Edin Saracevic who operate at the root and are capable of changing the situation with micro-interventions that actually do improve the situation and the hopes for the future generations to come.

Preserving history and the cultural heritage of Bosnia & Herzegovina

Jim Marshall is one of the co-founders of the Foundation for the Preservation of Historical Heritage. A non profit organization that aims at digitizing all the historical and cultural documents from most of the museums, national libraries, daily newspapers and important archives in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

A digital process has been established with high resolution cameras that enables recording at a very fast speed in the highest possible quality. The information shall then be made available on the regional network of libraries as well as through other relevant academic channels. This is literally millions of pages of books and documents, photographs and newspaper articles. The process is estimated to take 10-15 years until completion.

photographed by Stefan Jermann

«THE DIGITIZATION OF THE NATIONAL TREASURES OF BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA NEEDS TO BE DONE NOW AND IT NEEDS TO BE DONE PROPERLY.» Jim Marshall

 

IMPRESSUM ISSUE 02

MIRUS IN MARIJIN DVOR

VIDEOS
STEFAN JERMANN
JUAN FABUEL

TEXT
JIM MARSHALL
JUAN FABUEL
STEFAN JERMANN
HARIS PIPLAS

PROOF READER
JIM MARSHALL

PHOTOGRAPHY
STEFAN JERMANN
JUAN FABUEL
BILL CARTER
JIM MARSHALL
HISTORIC ARCHIVE
REFERENCES FROM THE BOOK:
UNFINISHED MODERNIZATIONS
BETWEEN UTOPIA AND PRAGATISM
(edited by Vladimir Kulic and Maroje Mrduljas,
published by Croatian Architects' Association)

Contents