Survival Map 1992-1996

Launch event for the 'Survival Map 1992-1996' (Sarajevo, 1996)
Supporter: City of Barcelona
(on the photograph: Pascal Margall holding the map (representing the City of Barcelona), and the event presenter Troka Mladen Jelicic)

Year of Production
Location of Production
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Original format
Printed Map (hand-drawn map and the map legend)
Original Language
English and Bosnian
The Siege of Sarajevo 1992 - 1996: mapping out different levels of survival within the urban environment. First project of its kind visually and textually explaining and presenting 'what it means to be besieged' within a single format.
Research Period
1992 - 1996
A single printed sheet with content on both sides.
Front page: a hand-drawn map of the Siege of Sarajevo with key siege and survival elements of an urban environment.
Back page: a legend, enlarged map sections and text description for 57 highlighted sites, buildings, and elements.
Special Thanks
The map which has become an irreplaceable document of the siege of Sarajevo was made possible thanks to the City of Barcelona.


Suada Kapic
Graphic Designer / Illustrator
Ozren Pavlovic
Drago Resner
Text by
Nihad Kresevljakovic
LayOut Design
Emir Kasumagic
Vanja Matkovi
Printed in
Zagreb, Croatia
Autorska prava
© FAMA International


Because of their influence, those who watch, observe, analyse and explain meaning to the masses are considered a kind of elite; however if this elite use faulty methodology or have impure intentions, it can lead to disastrous consequences. We, the founders of FAMA, the first independent multi-media company in the former Yugoslavia, were fully aware of the sensitivity of the area in which we chose to invest. From the very beginning of the disintegration of Yugoslavia, we knew that documentation, of all types and forms, would play a vital role in the fate of current and future generations. In keeping with our own personal principles, our methods rely on fact, oral history and recorded documentation (documented documents). It is through our unique insight and gift of foresight that we have been able to develop a step by step methodology that 'makes the obvious visible'.

Gaining insight. This involves watching events attentively with an open mind as an observer rather than a participant, in order to note significant elements of the observed phenomenon; then putting these elements together to identify early signs of any emerging dominant trends that might launch a new process of cause and effect.

Continuing research through oral history. Those who participated in an observed event talk about their own experience of it, without commenting on other participants. These elements are recorded in photo/video format.

Structuring the research. Putting first hand facts and documented documents of a particular event, period or phenomenon into a structure that transfers this knowledge in a form acceptable to an audience, devoid of any indicators that would point to a conclusion. Readers, viewers, students, researchers draw their own conclusions on the basis of the given format.

Converting the structure. This phase involves producing a format suitable for mass production (maps, albums, films, encyclopedias).

Creating a study pack. We have created an educational pack consisting of different sections that can be used for different levels of education, as our unique contribution to the interpretation of the period 1991-1999.

Survival Map 1992-1996

There are events in our life that elicit our hidden talents which under different circumstances would be quite unnecessary. It so happened that we, as observers and participants of the phenomenon of the besieged city, realized that we could identify the specific needs of the time by carefully observing events. That is how the map of the besieged city was created. While choosing our daily route, we suddenly realized that an accurate map would be an invaluable asset for moving around the city besieged by hundreds of pieces of heavy and light weaponry, where in place of road signs there were warnings like Watch sniper, or If you see a piece of the hill, the hill can see you as well (snipers were placed on the hills, and Sarajevo is situated in the valley). And so we began to 'scan' the city, gardens, parks, hazardous areas, crossroads, buildings, protection from sniper fire, streets ... and later included these pieces of information into a hand drawn map of the besieged city. We copied the weaponry positions around Sarajevo from the original JNA map, soon realizing that the map format does not allow for all the weaponry that terrorized the city for four years – the weaponry is therefore symbolically represented on the map. As a unique historical document, the map found its way into the map collections around the world. One red line around the city once and for all explained what 'a town under siege' meant.

About the project

The uniqueness of this map among attempts to visualize the history is also due to the uniqueness of the Sarajevo experience: at the end of the twentieth century, a European city came under the longest siege in the history of warfare. For four years people could not get out of the city on which the entire world's media was focused 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Survival map was created on the basis of documents and photographs taken during the siege, in order to produce an image of altered geography of a city isolated from the rest of the world although under the eye of the world media. The map is a testimony to the city's survival thanks to a whole new civilization created on the ruins of the old one, a testimony to the city's recycling, usage of the solar energy, water purification pills, and satellite communications. The map contains all the details of survival, describing also how facilities essential for every city managed to function. The map shows secret passages and tunnels, special corridors invented to enable personal movement around the town given its exposure to sniper fire all day-long. The map shows the city which replaced its parks with vegetable gardens, its rose gardens with corn fields, electricity with medieval lamps and central heating with hand-made stoves, and tap water with water from canisters filled only at a few places in town; personal recreation was replaced with running under sniper fire, caloric food with plants from window gardens, television with the art of conversation, and art was turned into a resistance to terrorism. When future generations start to research this phenomenon and the period of disintegration of Yugoslavia, this map will make it easy to understand the city's geography and its limitations during the siege.

From the Survival Map editorial published in 1996: "The capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo, was attacked on the 5th April 1992. The city in the Miljacka River valley is surrounded by mountains where 260 tanks, 120 mortars and a great number of smaller calibre weapons were placed pointed towards the city. The Yugoslav National Army, backed by local terrorists, encircled the city and began to tighten the noose around its 500,000 inhabitants. On the 2nd May 1992, the city was completely closed off. A part of it was occupied, while the part that could not be conquered was exposed to gunfire and artillery shells. Every day the city was hit with 4,000 rounds whose targets included hospitals, museums, mosques, churches, schools, synagogues, libraries, the city maternity hospital, and queues for bread and water. The aggressor destroyed the main post office, the water, electricity and gas lines were cut off. The food was soon gone. Cemeteries begun to spread. On the 26th February 1996 the northern entrance to the city opened, releasing Vogosca and Ilijas, and Sarajevo was officially declared an open city. After the Dayton Agreement and the arrival of IFOR, the aggressor started leaving the occupied areas of the city. They looted, burned and destroyed everything behind. On the 19th March 1996, the aggressor left Grbavica – the last city area to be returned to the B&H Government by the Dayton Peace Agreement. The siege lasted from the 2nd May 1992 to the 26th February 1996, or 1395 days – it was the longest siege in modern history."

Later on, all these projects demostrated our chosen method as the key for documenting events if they are to serve as a valuable contribution to interpretation of and learning about the 1991-1999 period in the former Yugoslavia. Besides its educational role, the project has also proved as a significant contribution to the processes of truth and reconciliation, as well as to the democratization process of our post-war society.