Virus is one of the places in Mostar that most inspires me. A local designer uses a tiny storefront owned by her family to create an independent, alternative gallery, where she gathers and exhibits art of young local artists, somehow scraping the money together to keep the gallery open. Across the street is a posh corporate-funded gallery.
Okay, you guys are gonna kill me for continuing to post about these protests, but hey, they are the biggest protests Bosnia has seen since 1992! The most significant innovation is the development of plenums, where citizens can freely gather to share ideas and jointly make demands on the government. I went to one in Mostar, where a skype link was created with the Sarajevo plenum. Citizens of all ages and backgrounds came and anyone can speak for up to 5 minutes. It’s so moving to see how overjoyed people are to finally say what they think about the disastrous political situation in Mostar– still no Mayor or city council 14 months after the elections.
Say what you wanna say, and let the words fall out! Slogans say: “Election day you’re fired”; “Stop nationalism”; “We want the names of all billionaires”; “Existing parties may not longer rule”; Delete the elite”.
Buildings in Sarajevo were burned as well; when I got there the protests were established and peaceful. Demonstrators stopped traffic for weeks, but only for predetermined hours. They moved dumpsters to block traffic, and then moved them back again at the end of the day. The sidewalks were full of pedestrians because the trams were stopped. At the protests friends gathered in small groups to chat. (Popular support for the protests was measured to be at 88% countrywide.)
“I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!”
Protests have been rocking Bosnia. They started with a protest over corrupt privatizations in northern Bosnia and spread to 31 cities. I was in Mostar. Riot police slid by like ghosts. A few protesters set fires to buildings they saw as symbols of corruption and dysfunction. It was significant, in a city otherwise divided along ethnic lines, that the protesters and the targets of destruction were explicitly representative of both sides. These days a ‘plenum’ of Mostar citizens who gather to formulate demands for change in the government is being held at Abrasevic.
We usually think of “broadening one’s horizons” in terms of trying new things, but I think sometimes trying the old things can be just as broadening. After six years of living in beautiful Bosnia and Herzegovinia, I’m starting to plan my move back to the US next year. I just spent two months on a sort of vision trip, reimagining American life from this vantage point. This year of reflection and action is a bridge into my future plans. Whether physically, emotionally, spiritually, or intellectually, it’s so important to explore new directions.
Pendleton, Oregon. January 2014.
“Every finite present has its limitations. We define the concept of ‘situation’ by saying that it represents a standpoint that limits the possibility of vision. Hence an essential part of the concept of situation is the concept of ‘horizon.’ The horizon is the range of vision that includes everything that can be seen from a particular vantage point… A person who has no horizon is a man who does not see far enough and hence overvalues what is nearest to him. On the other hand, ‘to have an horizon’ means not being limited to what is nearby, but to being able to see beyond it… Working out of the hermeneutical situation means the achievement of the right horizon of inquiry for the questions evoked by the encounter with tradition.”
-Gadamer, Truth and Method
I come from a tiny town in eastern Oregon, Pendleton, where I spent most of January. I’m proud of its authentic western charm, but often feel like my adult life is completely alienated from its smallness and remoteness. Walking in the sculpture garden at the Hirshhorn, I found a sculpture by an artist from Pendleton! Somehow it seemed like a sign. Thanks Kenneth Snelson, b. 1927, Pendleton, Oregon.
Needle Tower 1968
Aluminum and stainless steel