“my petites madeleines are water canisters” : The Genres, Images, and Intertexts of Bosnia’s Remembered War

Lecture | February 19 | 5-7 p.m. | 3335 Dwinelle Hall

 Antje Postema, Lecturer, Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian Language, UC Berkeley

 Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ISEEES)

In Bosnia and Hercegovina, wartime artistic patterns of genre, image, and intertextual reference have set the terms for postwar memory-making. These versatile, enduring patterns also illuminate the reciprocal influence of memory and art in Bosnia from the 1990s to the present.

While wartime authors like Semezdin Mehmedinovic and Ozren Kebo infused the practical, didactic genres of the map and the glossary with irony, postwar authors like Alma Lazarevska and museum designers like Jasminko Halilovic have freighted these same genres with pathos. Artists have returned again and again to evocative images, as they have to specific genres: literary texts, films, and oral histories have reworked the image of Sarajevo’s ruined Vijecnica, the burnt-out National and University Library that was made iconic by wartime prose, photography, and documentary film. Both during and after the war, art thrived on intertextual allusion. The Bosnian graphic collective TRIO riffed on Munch’s The Scream and subverted the Coca-Cola logo to memorialize the horror and the spectacle of the 20th century’s longest siege. Postwar artists and writers likewise invoke touchstones from Bulgakov to Blade Runner.

Drawing on a range of Bosnian literature, visual art, and memorial practice, this talk details how patterns set by wartime cultural production and adapted in the postwar period have structured – and have themselves been shaped by – the crucial but difficult work of reckoning with wartime pasts in private memory, artistic creation, and public discourse alike.