THE ART SPACE
The creative blasting power of Bomb Gallery will unfurl in the city centre of Mostar. Our objective is the deconstruction of the stereotypical structure which marks existing exhibition spaces and models. Geographically distant as well as conceptually different from all existing private galleries, commercial art fairs, institutions and museums, Bomb Gallery will strive to promote the idea of a free art space, in which we live, work and collaborate with a selection of artists from all over the word. We intend to include young, emerging artists pursuing unusual, controversial approaches. In order to qualify, artists should not only deﬁ ne their work in the abstract context of the global art discourse. Instead, we are looking for artists whose work is involved with and informed by the realities of the tangible around them. Their works should not provide deﬁ nite answers but raise questions. In the best case, a free art space such as Bomb Gallery can make a decisive contribution to the creation of a future in which an open and unbiased spirit prevails on the Balkans and beyond . In the course of the process, the city of Mostar will demonstrate that it can be a source of impulses for both the local and the international scene, that it has the potential to be a platform for the arts, and that it can rise again to be the multicultural hub it once used to be.
The young artist Anita Kapraljevic has been observing the development of her home town Mostar for years. Whenever she came back to visit Bosnia-Herzegovina, she was struck by the drastic changes of this region during the war and after. When she realized that there is until now not a single independent art space, she came up with the idea to create a free gallery in Mostar. Obviously, the lack of a critical contemporary art community is a sensitive issue that will have to be addressed carefully. Artists who wish participate will be expected to embark on a mindful search for their own ways of presentation with regard to the city. We see the cultural tabula-rasa situation of the post-conﬂ ict society as an opportunity for the development of new structures. In this context, Bomb Gallery will stand for a unique concept of contemporary art aiming to pursue a truly multicultural approach. The members of the core group developing Bomb Gallery share an acute awareness for the necessity of artistic collaboration, on a national as well as on an international level drawing from different sets of experiences, we all are convinced that creative exchange will allow us to proﬁt from the collective international consciousness of the group as well as from each individual’s artistic input.
The kind of art which we intend to show does not necessarily have to be political, at least not in the sense that it would transport speciﬁc political messages. Instead, we aim to create a free, independent gallery, in which international artists can meet and network. The project is based on the idea of a mutual exchange at eye level. The initiative aims to create a platform for contemporary art in the Balkans which can provide a free open space for artistic experimentation and interaction.
THE CITY OF MOSTAR
When the grenades fell down on the bridge of Mostar in November 1993, a whole world, and not only a stone arch, collapsed for the inhabitants of the city. The 450-year-old bridge was more for them than a part of their daily life. It was a metaphorical connection between different cultures. Mostar, a city with around 111 000 inhabitants, located in the south of the former Yugoslavian autonomous republic Bosnia Herzegovina, has always been a place where East and West meet. Mostar’s diversity, however, proved ill-ﬁt for times of war. Ten years of fratricidal conﬂ ict have all but effaced the multicultural imprint which had been characteristic for the city throughout its history. Now, the city is deeply divided, split into a Croation and a Muslim half. Mixed neighbourhoods hardly exist anymore. This division is not only visible in Mostar’s geography, it also scars its political, social and cultural structure and reaches deep into each aspect of everyday life. The development of national and international initiatives for political and social renewal remains slow. Also, the vacuum of free cultural discourse created by the war, is still wide open. The city centre of Mostar as well as its suburbs are therefore ideal locations for a project like Bomb Gallery. We assume that this speciﬁc socio-political environment can give rise to an artistic debate in pursuit of a new social sphere extending beyond all existing borders. At the same time, the project will set the stage for practicing co-existence and debating variety. It will be a place for regional and international exchange, where people can come to share their impressions.
ARTISTS AS CURATORS
Every day, Bomb Gallery will hit like an art bomb, its creative blast wave spreading impulses, ideas and inspiration over Mostar and far beyond. During the production period, the fallout risk will built up incrementally. As a result, a multi-layered process of interaction betwen art space and city will progress. Bomb Gallery will also reﬂect on the collective emotions and experiences prevalent in Mostar. Signiﬁ cant insights will take shape both within the gallery and in the public space. The city and the gallery will co-exist next to each other and become increasingly conﬂated. Any place of Mostar can turn into a site for installations, performances and actions. In the future, it is conceivable that many other cities could open art spaces emulating the model of Bomb Gallery. It is important to stress that Bomb Gallery is explicitly not intended to be a usual artist-run gallery. We want to act as curators, not exhibit our own works. Only the works of the artists we invite to contribute will be shown. Our artwork is Bomb Gallery itself, a dynamic, innovative social sculpture meshed into its urban surrounding. An adequate press campaign including advertisement in local as well as international newspapers will accompany the project and raise the attention of public interested in art all over the world. Alongside with publications in traditional media, ﬂyers, posters and art magazines, a web site is being prepared where information on the artist currently on display as well as a schedule of past and upcoming events will be available. Documentation will be all that remains of the project. For this purpose, the process and results of Bomb Gallery will be recorded in a bilingual catalogue. The documentation could be exhibited in different art spaces. It would theoretically allow for Bomb Gallery to be perpetuated as a model for cultural renewal as well as a blueprint for experimental galleries in cities all over the world.