Mai 27, 2017 – August 6,2017
Taysir Batniji, Bernd Behr, David Brognon / Stéphanie Rollin, Annalisa Cannito, Olga Chernysheva, Edith Dekyndt, Jan Peter Hammer, James T. Hong, Hilary Koob-Sassen, Milomir Kovacevic, Susanne Kriemann, Dorit Margreiter, Eduardo Paolozzi, Vesna Pavlovic, Dan Perjovschi, Lia Perjovschi, Jorge Ribalta, Alexander Sokurow, Sandra Vitaljic, Jan-Peter E.R. Sonntag, among others
Iris Dressler, Hans D. Christ
The point of departure for this exhibition, which is on show at the Württembergischer Kunstverein from May 27 to August 6, 2017, is a particular place, Tito’s bunker in Konjic (Bosnia and Herzegovina), which is equally negotiated as concrete location and as open-ended metaphor.
The atomic fallout shelter, built from 1953 to 1979 near Sarajevo, today serves as a unique site for a biennial of contemporary art: the Project Biennial D-0 ARK. The objective is to establish a museum there based on artworks that have been shown at the biennial.
Iris Dressler and Hans D. Christ have been invited to curate the 4th Project Biennial. In parallel with this project, they are developing an exhibition for the Württembergischer Kunstverein. The idea is to deal with the bunker both in the very heart of the place itself and from a distance—in its absence or as a kind of phantom.
While their project for the bunker, which already features over 120 works of art from the previous biennials, will be limited to six new artistic interventions, the aim in Stuttgart is to bring into play, based on a broad spectrum of artistic work, various lines of reference and associations: ranging from the Second World War to the Cold War to the siege of Sarajevo to recent wars; from the atomic bombs detonated over Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the atomic plant accidents in Chernobyl and Fukushima; from the bunker as “living machine” and survival shelter to gated communities. The bunker will be reflected as infrastructure, as promise of deliverance, as post-cataclysmic projection surface, as dispositif of selection—but also as a utopian (or heterotopic) space.
Counting among the circa twenty artists showing their work in the Stuttgart exhibition are also those who have developed projects for Tito’s Bunker. Likewise included in the exhibition will be various historical and current reference materials.
From 1953 to 1979, the former head of state in Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito, initiated the top-secret construction of a gigantic an—at least theoretically—nuclear-safe bunker in Konjic, a town that is situated around 40 kilometers south of Sarajevo (and today located in Bosnia and Herzegovina). This shelter, drilled 300 meters deep into the mountain and occupying a space of 6,500 square meters, was conceived for the survival of 350 chosen representatives of the country’s political and military elite of that time—including just one woman: Jovanka B. Broz, Tito’s wife. Tito himself outlived the accomplishment of the structure by just one year.
Not until the 1990s did the existence of this construction project, which cost 4.6 billion US dollars, become public knowledge. At this time, still no global atomic war had happened, fortunately, but the nation (or more precisely: its “elites”) that was (were) to be rescued in this bunker had disappeared: it was quasi atomized.
In 2011, the two artists Edo und Sandra Hozic succeed in launching the Project Biennial D-0 ARK, whose site was to be Tito’s Bunker. From the very beginning, their aim has been to amass a collection of art through the biennial that would ultimately serve as a basis for a museum in the bunker: a museum where contemporary art and military history will meet (likely not without friction).
Before the transformation of the site into a museum, the 4th edition of the biennial will be held, curated by Hans D. Christ and Iris Dressler. Their idea was to develop a project about Tito’s bunker for two venues: the bunker itself and the Württembergischer Kunstverein.
The Exhibition at the Württembergischer Kunstverein
While the project in Konjic especially focuses on the infrastructure of the bunker and its planned transformation from military shelter into an art and military museum, the exhibition in Stuttgart examines the bunker primarily as a metaphor and object of very diverse projects and fictions—for example, surveillance and control. The scope ranges from the modernist “living machine” and the postmodern gated community to the experimental fields of logistics—represented by the bunker as a survival capsule and also the slave ship or modern container vessel—and the promise of “surgical warfare.”
The history of atomic threats (and the supposed containment thereof) are of interest here, as are projects like Biosphere 2: a failed experiment carried out in the 1990s to prepare for an escape to Mars.
Tito’s Bunker refers to the imagination of a post-cataclysmic “zero hour” or “tabula rasa,” to the—both economic and political—exploitation of fear and to the illusions of safety, isolation, and escape. It is associated with the question of who is allowed to survive and who is not, and it is thus, in a certain sense, proximate to the museum as dispositif of selection and preservation of (cultural) heritage.
However, Tito’s Bunker—as a potential site of inclusion within a hostile environment—appears to engage in an incredible inverse relationship to the almost four-year-long besiegement of the City of Sarajevo (1992–96) during the so-called Bosnian War. The exhibition takes up this chain of associations, among others.