Aida Šehović. Returning Home
Curator: Irfan Hošić
Center for Contemporary Culture KRAK (Hamze Hume bb, Bihać)
September 4th – 25th 2021
Exhibition opening: Saturday, September 4 2021, 7 pm
Partner: Kuma International, Sarajevo
What is home and how to understand it when its physical location has been destroyed, erased or forgotten? – This is the initial question artist Aida Šehović asks with Returning Home, her first solo exhibition in her home country of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The exhibition is based on the personal refugee experience of the artist from the 1990s and includes migration experiences and challenges that the city of Bihać faces today. In doing so, the overlap of the personal with the collective grows into a social play within which the performativity of displacement and the pursuit of a “home” explores relationships with the different cultural backgrounds of the globalized world today. Articulating a view specifically from the Bihać position – as a city on the border with the European Union, which in the last few years has turned into a difficult-to-control hub for the movement of people on the so-called Balkan route – this exhibition considers the issue of belonging within a historical and spatial perspective, and using the practices of visual culture (drawing, video, design) and tools of social practice, imagines the possible reimagining of the home of "uprooted" and displaced people. Aida Šehović creates a platform for a personal story, but also for the story of others who are marginalized, disenfranchised and humiliated. As such, the exhibition is a kind of "safe space" for mutual understanding and empathy.
The exhibition consists of two methodologically and medially different units. The first is a video installation Apartment from 2021, which shows how the artist's parents reconstruct the memory related to the physical concept of home through mental recollection exercises. The second is a series of workshops with “people on the move” who voluntarily, using a drawing, tell the story of the home they left or the home they aspire to.
Apartment is a two-channel video document of the process of evoking memories and remembering the "past life" of a family whose members have experienced forced migration, more precisely being a refugee. Two adults sit at a table in their "new" American home and use pencil and paper to reconstruct the floor plan of their "lost" family apartment in which they lived through the happiest moments of their lives until they were expelled. The intonation and metrics of the work are shrouded in a sense of nostalgia and melancholy. The work also talks about the "invisible" consequences of ethnic expulsion, about personal memories and social upheavals in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which the artist describes as “very serious wounds which for us do never go away, but are only deeply suppressed."
As a parallel, the exhibition also includes intensive workshops titled “Drawing towards Home” with people on the move who are currently in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region of Bihać due to rigid migration politics and strict border regimes of the EU. In addition to social and intercultural interactions, these workshops involve the use of drawing as a tool for imagining and remembering a kind of a return to home – whether that home has been abandoned or is a desired aspiration. At the same time, the complications that are hidden behind painful and traumatic stays in unwanted destinations and stations while searching for a new home, become a reality that is neglected, suppressed and denied.
The exhibition is funded by the Foundation for Arts Initiatives and the Emergency Grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts in New York. The workshops are conducted with the help of SOS Bihać and IPSIA.
Aida Šehović is a Bosnian born artist based in New York City. She is the founder and caretaker of ŠTO TE NEMA—a participatory public monument to the Srebrenica Genocide. Šehović is the recipient of the ArtsLink Award, the Emerging Artist Fellowship from Socrates Sculpture Park, and the Fellowship for Utopian Practice.
Aida Šehović, Apartment 2021