One of post-war Bosnia’s enduring struggles is to keep its extraordinary artistic and cultural heritage alive. Some twenty years ago, the architects of genocide did all they could to destroy it.
I’ve written before about some of the incredible Bosnian artists working to make meaningful art in terribly difficult circumstances, either in Bosnia-Herzegovina or in exile. Abstract expressionist painter Samir Bišćević was one of the first to grab hold of me. Then the list grew: theater director Haris Pašović, concert accordionist Merima Ključo and soprano Aida Čorbadžić, writers Dževad Karahasan and Goran Simić, filmmakers Srdjan Vuletić and Pjer Žalica, and visual artists Šejla Kamerić and Jusuf Hadžifejzović.
Yesterday, on a gorgeous spring day in Cambridge, MA, my family and I had the good fortune of meeting another Bosnian visual artist and scholar, Azra Akšamija, a professor at MIT and the coordinator of the inspiring, international “culture shutdown” and “day of museum solidarity” projects designed to draw global attention to the desperate situation of Bosnia’s national galleries and museums.
It will be a long fight. The political and economic landscapes of Bosnia are forbidding, and the formation of a vital ministry of culture, to fund these essential institutions, will take years. In the meantime, here’s hoping that international solidarity and support for Bosnia will continue to grow.
The significance of being out in Cambridge, so soon after the Boston Marathon bombings, was not lost on us. Our hearts are with all the people of the Boston area, including the Bosnians there, for whom the violence is all too familiar.