June 1994

Behija Zlatar

‘When Mehta, the conductor, came from the Airport to the Holiday Inn Hotel, he immediately wanted to go to the theater to see our orchestra and choir. And when he heard the first few bars, he was delighted with them. And this is what pleases me so much; that we have such great artists in our city who can perform Mozart’s famous work with Mehta.’


JUNE 1994

• Kresimir Zubak becomes president of the Federation of BH. The session of the Constituent Assembly of BiH is completed.
• Amendment to the indictment against criminals in the city changes the charge from "opposition to authority" to "military rebellion". Military prosecutor Ismet Mehic says this is intended to calm tensions in the city.
• A fashion show, "Back to No Future," is held.

• The BiH delegation will not go to Geneva for peace negotiations because the Bosnian Serbs have not retreated 3 km from Gorazde.

• The Writers' Union of Russia gives the "Mihail Solohov" prize to Radovan Karadzic for his poetic works.
• Bob Dole, the Republican leader in the U.S., arrives in Sarajevo.

• Peace negotiations in Geneva: cease-fire signed.

• Sarajevans get water during the night, due to reduced power consumption.

• A BiH mountaineering expedition headed by Muhamed Gafic climbs Mont Blanc on June 8th, at 3pm.

• U.S. Congress opposition to Clinton: Congress urges the President to unilaterally lift the arms embargo on Bosnia.

• Larry Hollingworth, a British aid worker, is knighted. He has worked completely alone, without protection, walking in front of the first trucks in convoys with humanitarian aid.

• Inside the building of the burnt out National Library Mozart's "Requiem" is performed. Conducted by Zubin Mehta, Carreras sings to pay tribute to the fallen people of Sarajevo and those killed across the country.

• Sniper incidents occurr- a passenger is injured in a tram near the hotel "Holiday Inn". A UN APC, which is supposed to protect the tram, did not react retreated. A second UN APC arrives to shelter the tram.

• Sculptor Alma Suljevic builds "Centaurs" from the burnt out shells of trams.

• Haris Silajdzic is appointed President of the Federation BiH; his deputy is Jadranko Prlic, who represents Croats.
• Sarajevans attend foreign language courses. The "Interlingua" school operates throughout the siege.

• NATO is ready to send 50,000 troops to implement the agreement if an agreement is reached in Geneva.
• The Humanitarian Organization "Marie Stopes International" opens to counsel for "post-traumatic stress disorder." Based on their votes, most women choose aerobics as their treatment.

Cultural survival

The besieged city defends itself by culture and thus survives. Groups and individuals create whatever they used to create before the siege In impossible circumstances they produce films, write books, publish newspapers, produce radio programs, design postcards, stage exhibitions, performances, make blueprints for rebuilding the city, found new banks, organize fashion shows, shoot photographs, celebrate holidays, put on make up... Sarajevo is the city of the future and of the life in the post-cataclysm. In it on the ruins of the old civilization a new one is sprouting, an alternative one, composed of remains of urban elements Sarajevo lives a life of futuristic comics and science fiction movies.

Sarajevo's Art and Philosophy of Survival

Two and half years into war our city has stabilized. We have created a new city, new way of life and new philosophy of living in post-cataclysm environment. 2 000 shells daily brought destruction, theft, black market, death. The war destructed hardware of civilization – buildings, water, electricity, gas lines. But Sarajevo has not died. Under this destruction there is a thin line of purity. People work in spite of terror and nothingness to retain essential elements of this society and community.
We have survived so far because we integrated humour and innovation into every part of our life. The essentials of humanity have distilled into the obvious, such as food and water, and more subtly, community and art. Art significantly improved our spiritual strength, even in the worst imaginable conditions. All artistic forms, models, techniques, the new and the old, were important during all levels of survival, even the most fundamental. Creativity provided us with mental freedom, which in turn encouraged the spirit of tolerance and multiculturalism. With this renewed ethical approach towards living, our minds cleared and we once again felt like human beings capable of a free flow of emotions. Sarajevo is an example of freedom in process. Our ability to exit out of nothing is a mirror image to Steven Hawking's physical theory – the disintegration of stars creates the appearance of nothingness, but within this nothingness is a black hole, an exit.
The siege Sarajevo experienced will happen elsewhere in the world during the 21st century. Sarajevo is a hopeful example for the future, a self contained model of how an urban city anywhere can survive a modern cataclysm. The knowledge and skills accumulated during the siege has the potential to inspire and prepare the world for the 21st century.
Everything is possible. Subsisting on the bare necessities, Sarajevo no longer uses pesticides or creates much pollution. We are realizing America's New Age objectives of health, ecology, agricultural awareness, recycling, and self-sufficiency. But the perfect model of survival can only be realized through the support of the international community. Sarajevo needs the technology, education, and cultural information from rest of the world. And the world needs Sarajevo's experience and knowledge. We are all ready for the isolation to end and for this exchange to take place.

The Baby Universe Festival
Summer 1994, Sarajevo


The monumental City Hall was built during the period of the Austro-Hungarian rule in 1894. It was built in a pseudo-Moorish style with many decorative elements on its facade, in its central hall, on the staircase and in the ceremonial halls. In 1945 the building regarded by many as the most beautiful building in Sarajevo, was turned into the National Library which contained more than 1 million books, a great number of domestic and foreign periodicals and a collection of rare books. On August 25, 1992, exactly one hundred years after its building had begun, the shelling of the City Hall stared from the Trebevic and other mountains. It was hit by 50 shells and it started to burn a short time before midnight. The uncontainable fire destroyed the whole building, including most of the books. The Sarajevans remember the day by the ashes of books flying above the city. The destroyed City Hall building, the symbol of the besieged city and the barbarity of the aggressor, became the place where concerts and art exhibitions by local and foreign artists were held. The City Hall building is also the place where foreign cameramen keep bumping into each other and where they always start by shooting the glass construction of the City Hall roof turning beneath it in circles.