Monday, 21 August 2017

Tito's Nuclear Bunker in Bosnia to Host Contemporary Art Biennale

Text by By Aida Sunje for Balkan Insight   
18 June 2010 | Built to withstand a 20 kiloton nuclear explosion, the bunker of the late Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito, located near the Bosnian town of Konjic, has found quite a different role more than thirty years after it was built - as host to the Biennale of Contemporary Art, D-O ARK Underground.

Organised by the Association for the promotion of Visual Arts "Kult Zone" Sarajevo, Collegium Artisticum from Sarajevo and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Republic of Srpska, with the partnership of the Centre for Cultural Decontamination from Belgrade, the Biennale was named the cultural event of the year 2009/2010 by the Council of Europe.

Due to financial difficulties, the official date of the opening of the Biennale has been postponed several times, leaving May 27, 2011 as the latest arrangement.

"Our plan is to transform this atomic shelter into a museum of art in the next ten years with the basic assumption that the atomic shelter is kept in the condition it is in now," says Edin Hozic, the director of the Biennale.

The bunker, built between 1953 and 1979, was made to accomodate around 350 people who in the event of a nuclear attack could live up to six months without needing to step into the outside world. Camouflaged by three houses that are connected to the facility via long corridors, the bunker is located within a 280 metre high hill.

The inside of the bunker is well preserved, with the headquarters, conference halls, bedrooms and other facilities almost untouched. The telephone lines are still working, while special air conditioning systems keep the bunker at 22 degrees Celsius.

Hozic explained that the general concept of the whole project was led by the three main brands: the name of Josip Broz Tito, the name of the atomic shelter that represents the region's joint heritage and was one of the best kept military and state secrets until it was revealed recently; and the idea of the Balkans and its art in the context of the events that happened during the last two decades.

It is expected that 30-40 artists from the region and the world will take part in the first exhibition at the Biennale. Those responsible for selecting the pieces for the Biennale are Branislav Dimitrijevic (Serbia), Jusuf Hadzifejzovic (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Petar Cukovic (Montenegro).

"This Biennale represents an opportunity to answer some of the questions regarding the Cold War, as well as better understand the past and look more rationally to the future," says Hozic.

This article is courtesy of Balkan Insight, the online publication of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, which contains analytical reports, in-depth analyses and investigations and news items from throughout the region covering major challenges of the political, social and economic transition in the Balkans.

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