Šejla Kamerić. Hooked
Exhibition curator: Irfan Hošić
Organisation: KRAK Center for Contemporary Culture, Bihać; Realstage association, Sarajevo
Partner: Obala Art Center, Sarajevo; Our Children association, Zenica
Dom USAOJ-a, Bihać 21.5.2021. from 12 to 20h
Hala Željezare, Zenica 5.6.2021. from 12 to 20h
Dvorana Mirza Delibašić, Sarajevo 11.8.2021. from 12 to 20h
Šejla Kamerić’s exhibition Hooked is set up in abandoned public spaces previously used for cultural and sports events in Bihać, Zenica, and Sarajevo. It is part of the Hooked series that originated back in 2010 and has been shown in various forms at exhibitions in Vienna, Berlin, and Gothenburg. The exhibition features a pop-up intervention that consists of fourteen black and white large-scale crocheted items that the artist places in dialogue with their immediate spatial surroundings, their logic, and laws. Thus, neglected places deserted by the public are transformed into hotspots of creation, collaboration, and participation.
The intentional entry into “neglected” facilities (the USAOJ [Unified League of Anti-Fascist Youth of Yugoslavia] Centre in Bihać, the Željezara Hall in Zenica, the Mirza Delibašić Hall in Sarajevo) lends itself to at least two possible readings. One relates to the dilapidated and neglected architectural legacy of socialism perceived as an articulation of the negligent approach by the authorities and the public pointing at (a lack of) understanding. The other hinges on the current situation brought about by the coronavirus pandemic that has created global disruption from the start and made visits to closed public spaces seem unwelcome.
Given the masculinity of the structures and their robust architecture, Šejla Kamerić’s intervention can also, in a sense, be viewed as an interpolation in the feminine language of crochet handiwork that softly brings the gendered position of a woman into the taut context of emptiness and dereliction. Known colloquially as a milje [crocheting], this decorative item made with needle and thread is part of the visual culture of many a home in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the wider region, its purpose being to fill up empty spaces in a household. As if by some logic of the fear of empty space (horror vacui), which can be viewed as a premise of medieval aesthetics and artistry, domestic ‘milieus’ arise out of the same kind of desire to reinvent soulless surfaces such as those of the television set, the dresser, coffee table, etc. Though they seemed useless and became devalued and marginalized with the passing of generations, milieus have remained part of the local folk culture as a way to refine and improve on existing, already designed objects.
The immediacy, that is, the temporality of Hooked reaches into and encompasses additional perspectives, such as the issue of the audience and institutional art, as well as the issue of artistry in the context of industrial mass production. Above all, Šejla Kamerić offers part of her own intimate experience by disclosing one of her very personal matrices of balancing between intuition and reason that comes to the fore particularly in times of general isolation and physical distancing, because she views the Pandemic as an opportunity for an introverted deep dive within oneself.
Covering with “targets” and “circles” the surfaces of interiors once occupied by people, Hooked is a silent comment with an inclusive historical perspective, an allusion to the morbid present, and a fear for the wholly uncertain future of the buildings it relies on. At the same time, the work refers back to the conservative world of men by questioning the position of the woman as the main protagonist designing and producing ‘milieus’ in myriad households. Addressing gender relations, and given the repetitiveness of the work and its fabrication, Hooked acts as a metaphor for being caught inside a cage made up of the social conventions of ideological, class, and gender relations.
The exhibition is organized with support from the Culture Centre of Bihać and the Željezničar Football Club of Sarajevo.
Šejla Kamerić, Hooked. Photo: Mika Satomi (2010)