Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Biennial in Tito’s Nuclear Bunker Continues to Go Strong

The Biennial takes place in a nuclear bunker. Photo: Daniel García Andújar via danielandujar.com

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s biennial, “D-0 ARK Underground,” has been held inside a military nuclear bunker in the small town of Konjic, near the capital Sarajevo, since 2011. The exhibition’s theme since its inception has been the Cold War, and its location couldn’t be more emblematic of its thematic direction.

Built between 1953 and 1979, during the height of the Cold War, the $4.6 billion shelter was designed to protect former Yugoslav president Josip Broz Tito, his family, and Yoguslavia’s government and army elite in case of a nuclear attack. The very existence of the top-secret facility wasn’t revealed to the public until 2000.

280 meters underground, the shelter was preserved intact with all its symbols and signs of the region’s former ideological system. As many monuments representing previous political ideologies were destroyed, the ARK bunker is a confounding exhibition space merging past and present.

Eleven years after the bunker’s discovery, a group of artists, curators, and benefactors breathed new life into the Cold War relic transforming it into a space for contemporary art. Director Edo Hozic told the New York Times, “I think this is the most expensive museum ever built in human history.”

The bunker is accessible through the garage door of a nondescript residential house Photo: Velija Hasanbegović via Radio Sarajevo

The bunker is accessible through the garage door of a nondescript residential house
Photo: Velija Hasanbegović via Radio Sarajevo

As the biennial aims to restore cultural ties in a region that remains fractured following the ethnic conflicts that shook the region between 1991 and 2001, it is organized in partnership by two countries: Montenegro and Serbia in 2011, and Turkey and Croatia in 2013.

This year’s edition sees an Albanian-Austrian collaboration with curators Adela Demetja and Margarethe Makovec from Albania, and Anton Lederer and Rotor Graz from Austria, Der Standard reports.

The “D-0 ARK Underground” biennial opens on April 24th.


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