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Seeing your house in BiH on CNN during the nineties was possible only if it had become the site of destruction or violence. In this context, the artist representing BiH on an international stage takes on what can be described as a geopolitical burden: they are charged with the responsibility to ethnographically narrate the local experience and translate it into the global artworld lingua franca.
And this burden is made even more complex by the fact that for over two decades, BiH has been seen as a readymade post-conflict society plagued by rampant nationalism, political nepotism and corruption, social decay, and mass migration out of the country. Zenica was one of main industrial centres of production in BiH, and at the core of socialist working-class subjectivity in Yugoslavia.
The protagonists of the three videos perform their own lives and experience of BiH in transition. But they are also performing thecollective bodies around which the socialist ideology in Yugoslavia structured itself, and the way in which that ideology changed over the last three decades. The work is narrated through the perspective of Zoran, a long-time employee of the theatre whose personal history is interwoven with the institution. These are juxtaposed with the narrator giving details about his personal life and his connection to the building.
The narrator, like the building, finds himself in an incomprehensible new age; one in which the collectivity once inherent in the experience of theater has been lost; and one where mass unemployment, pollution, and exploitation have become the norm. Located at the front of the Zenica theater, the rusted metal of the sculpture becomes a stand-in for the forgotten history of modernist sculpture and monuments in Yugoslavia.
Zenica Trilogy. Installation view, Image courtesy of the author. The sound of heavy breathing from the video permeates the whole pavilion, creating the effect of a living space. In effect, it operates as the voice of the pavilion, echoing the interest in the humanist dimension of architecture we can already observe in Zgrada.