The New York Times goes underground to find Jusuf Hadzifejzovic, a prominent Bosnian artist and curator, doing his openings in a disused shopping mall:
The gallery he started three years ago, Charlama Depot, is situated in the midst of the Centar Skenderija, a dreary underground shopping mall that has seen better days. Though the mall was once a symbol of prosperity during the days of the former Yugoslavia — the sporting facilities above the mall were a site for the Winter Olympics of 1984 — many of its shops have gone out of business because of the economic downturn.
Mr. Hadzifejzovic saw opportunity in the growing number of empty shops, and persuaded the director of the mall to entrust around 40 of them to artists, free of charge, scattered among the remaining manicurists and bridal boutiques. Beginning in October, the mall began to show artists’ work as part of Mr. Hadzifejzovic’s Sub Dokumenta exhibition. The project, expected to involve artists from as far afield as New Zealand and Italy, will have its official opening in March; the exhibition will continue through the end of the year.
The chance to see contemporary Balkan art on such a scale is increasingly rare in the city. Ars Aevi, a world-class contemporary art collection, can currently be viewed by appointment only at the Centar Skenderija; a new building by the architect Renzo Piano to house the collection was scheduled to open in 2009 but awaits financing. And with the Bosnian government largely unsupportive and individual financial support hard to come by, young local artists scramble from project to project, space to space.
But other art sites do exist. Pierre Courtin, a French-born curator, runs the five-year-old Galerija 10m2 and its newly opened twin gallery, the Duplex/10m2. As an exchange student visiting Bosnia, Mr. Courtin was struck by the fact that there was nowhere for his fellow art students to present their work. He came across a tiny shop for rent, and with a grant from the French Embassy, he and his partner Claire Dupont opened Galerija. Hidden down the back alley of yet another shopping center, this space is smaller than its name suggests — more a location for experimentation than an actual gallery.
Art Crops Up in Sarajevo’s Shuttered Shops (New York Times)