Through a reflection on the Partisan Memorial in Mostar by the visionary architect Bogdan Bogdanović, Hysteresis focuses of the gap between the attempt of building an ideal space of dialogue, remembrance, inclusion in Mostar and the real events occurring in that particular site since the sixties.
One of Bogdanović’s most extensive projects, the cemetery honours Partisans from the region of Mostar killed in World War II. Names of eight hundred known fighters are carved into gravestones laid out on several terraces. After being restored in the mid-2000s, the cemetery subdued renewed vandalism and neglect. Another restoration of the complex is underway, and so, in the passage of time, the complex is destroyed and restored, losing its original material and with it, event after event, some atoms of its authenticity.
Hysteresis: Phenomenon, whereby the instantaneous value of a quantity that is determined by another depends not only on its value at the same time, but also on the values it has had in previous instants. Also hysteresis describes a loop, which at every turn loses energy converging to a final collapse, which here, as metaphor, describes also the phenomenon of actions performed again and again, in order to recover progressively from a collective trauma, while the object used for the ritual is depleted.
Two empty bases, whose measures are in proportion to the size of the space which hosts the work – a homage to Bodanović, who built his architecture using features that reflect a strong bond with the territory. On the back of both the bases there is a squared niece containing a photo of the memorial. The bases contain the same image, but one is mirrored horizontally. The empty bases are black. It is a colour that, in my work, refers to an absence, a void; also the height is 45 cm and encourages (especially children) to climb on the platform. Standing on it puts the viewer immediately in the position of the participant, which I believe is the essence of Bogdanović’s memorial architecture: memorials, architecture, any work of art, are for the living, not for the dead.
On the walls around the bases, there are three texts in black letters. The first one contains fragments of Bogdanović’s writings and his reactions to the madness of war. The second text is the artist’s vision of the duality that Mostar’s memorial embodies, creating a tension between two poles. The third is the socio-cultural context analysed by researcher Sarah Sajin.
Mostar’s Partisan Memorial is a cemetery and a place where life has been conceived in the shadow of the trees
It is a monument that does not resemble a monument
It is a communist memorial but has no symbols that can be linked to any political propaganda
It is a memorial, yet it reflects actual struggles
Like Penelope’s woven fabric, the memorial is incumbent upon constant renewal
It is a place of freedom and therefore reflects various and contrasting expressions of freedom
Fragments of Bogdanović’s writings
The play is a thought, and the thought is a happening. Where people do not know how to play, they cannot create their cities and their spaces Everything has already been invented.
Everything finds its place
The toy called the city was cruelly shattered, and my game lost life and meaning
What can you learn, out of a broken cognitive model? Which is the ornament and the discerning world behind the ruins of Vukovar, Sarajevo, Mostar?
A world without monuments would be better than one where monuments are needed
Monuments express a political will of memory
Memory politics tells us more about politics than about memory
Re-writing of history helped to legitimize the break-up of the Yugoslav federation and to naturalize new national borders
The destruction of the memory of the shared space was a central objective of the war Memory politics can be the continuation of the war by other means
The social significance of the monuments dedicated to the antifascist struggle has been eroded by the radical change of the political context
Can any person, any policy or monument shape people’s memory?
Can we expect from a monument erected for the glory of a destroyed country that it creates what the existence of the new system is continuously denying?
The play is a thought, and the thought is a happening. Where people do not know how to play, they cannot create their cities and their spaces. Everything has already been invented. Everything finds its place. The toy called the city was cruelly shattered, and my game lost life and meaning. What can you learn, out of a broken cognitive model? Which is the ornament and the discerning world behind the ruins of Vukovar, Sarajevo, Mostar? A world without monuments would be better than one where monuments are needed.