Aida Šehović

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Artist Statement

Every act of remembrance carries with it a dimension of forgetting, and consequently a betrayal of the original events. This failure to remember an event accurately is at the core of my practice. I try to create spaces in which these absences of memory and forgetting engage the viewer. While dominant or central culture has the means to memorialize its past (usually in stone and bronze), I am concerned with ways in which the margins can inscribe their own histories through ephemeral and temporary acts and practices.

Namely, “Što Te Nema?” is an on-going project that I have been working on for the past ten years. Conceived as a participatory and nomadic monument, “Što Te Nema?” travels to a new location annually to enable different communities to commemorate the Srebrenica genocide collectively and in a public space on its anniversary (July 11th). Organized in close collaboration with local Bosnian diaspora groups, most of whom have survived ethnic cleansing and genocide, “Što Te Nema?” emphasizes the absence of the victims while reaffirming the community that remains. Drawing on the Bosnian tradition of coming together for coffee, “Što Te Nema?” consists of a growing collection of donated porcelain coffee cups (fildžani) that are assembled on the ground and filled with coffee throughout the day by anyone interested in participating. The preparation and pouring of the coffee along with the dialogue that takes place around the monument show us that neither memories nor grief are fixed to one time or place. Creating a meditative and disruptive response to the conclusive and definite answer of official historical accounts, “Što Te Nema?” thrives on a process of ephemeral but continuous, personal and yet public acts of remembrance that can achieve permanence through sustainability.

“Obstacle Course Patriot Challenge I” is a project commissioned by Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City in 2013. Occupying a space between sculpture and architecture, it was envisioned as a work of art and a fully functional environment. Obstacle courses are paraphernalia of battleground energy. Displacing them from their original military environment into an open public space complicated their references to American militarism, transforming them into playful interactive objects. “Obstacle Course Patriot Challenge I” is a result of an extensive research into military training practices including interviews with former veterans and a visit to the Westpoint Military Academy, where an international obstacle course military competition was held. The site-specific sculpture was built with the help of local community volunteers, artists and several veterans. The sculpture fulfilled many different roles serving as a playground for children and teenagers, as an outdoor gym for athletes in the neighborhood, and a place of serious debate and conversation surrounding war and involvement of military forces.

Ultimately, I am interested in reconciling histories of loss, trauma and violence in space through intimate, repetitive and shared acts of remembrance that rely on the mechanism of social engagement.

 

CV

Education

2010 MFA, Combined Media, Hunter College, New York, NY

2002 BA, Studio Art and Anthropology, University of Vermont

Public Interventions

2015 Što Te Nema? (Geneva), Place de Saint Gervais, Geneva, Switzerland

2014 Što Te Nema? (Toronto), Yonge-Dundas Square, Toronto, Canada

2013 Što Te Nema? (New York), Washington Square Park, New York, NY

2012 Što Te Nema? (Istanbul), Taksim Square, Istanbul, Turkey

2011 Što Te Nema? (Burlington), Church Street, Burlington, VT

2010 Što Te Nema? (Stockholm), Normalmstorg, Stockholm, Sweden

2009 Što Te Nema? (The Hague), Het Plein, Den Haag, The Netherlands

2008 Što Te Nema? (Tuzla), Trg žrtava genocida, Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina

2007 Što Te Nema? (United Nations), The UN Headquarters, New York, NY

2006 Što Te Nema? (Sarajevo), Baščaršija Square, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Selected Group Exhibitions

2015 Unfinished Conversations: Reconstructing the Invisible, Grand Central Art Center, Santa Ana

2014 Oblique Strategies, Peter Fingesten Gallery, Pace University, New York, NY

2013 Queens International 13, Queens Museum of Art, Queens, NY

2013 EAF13: Emerging Artist Fellowship Exhibition, Socrates Sculpture Park, LIC, NY

2013 The A.I.R. Gallery 40th Anniversary Exhibition, A.I.R. Gallery, Brooklyn, NY

2013 I’m Open to the Idea, The Nightclub, Miami, FL

2012 Size, Scale, Repetition, General Practice, Miami, FL

2012 Testing, Heliopolis, Brooklyn, NY

2012 Soul Seekers: Interpreting the Icon, Trinity Museum, New York, NY

2011 The Typhoon Continues and So Do You, Flux Factory, New York, NY

2010 I Carry You in My Heart, Hunter Times Square Gallery, New York, NY

2009 MA’s Curate MFA’s, Hunter College Gallery, New York, NY

2008 Altered States, The Francis Lewis Gallery, St. George’s Church, New York, NY

Awards, Grants, Fellowships and Residencies

2015 Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Process Space Residency, New York, NY

2014 Artist in Residence, Grand Central Art Center, Santa Ana, CA

2013 Emerging Artist Fellowship, Socrates Sculpture Park, Long Island City, NY

2012 Oma’s Soup Grant, Hunter College, New York, NY

2009 Graf Travel Grant, Hunter College, New York, NY

2007-10 Jacob K. Javits Fellowship

2006 Artist in Residence, Santa Fe Art Institute, Santa Fe, NM

2006 ArtsLink Award, CEC ArtsLink, New York, NY

2005 Artist in Residence, Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT

2005 Artist Development Grant, Vermont Arts Council

Selected Lectures, Panels and Symposiums

2015 “To Remember and Reflect,” Katzen Arts Center, American University, Washington, DC

“Recovery or Semblance of Recovery (with Ellie Krakow and Sarah Plazas),” Staging Sex, Staging Self: A Performative Lecture Series, Skowhegan Project Space, New York, NY

2014 “Cups of memory – Remembering Srebrenica Genocide through “Što Te Nema?” Monument,” Visiting Artist, Connecticut College, New London, CT

2013 Visiting Artist Lecturer, Yale University, New Haven, CT

2012 Visiting Artist Lecturer, Hunter College, New York, NY

Visiting Artist Lecturer, Yale University, New Haven, CT

Visiting Artist Lecturer, Trinity College, Hartford, CT

2011 Visiting Artist Lecturer, Yale University, New Haven, CT

Bibliography

2015
Karabegović, Dženeta and Dr. Koinova, Maria. “Remembering Srebrenica in Different Contexts.” Politics Reconsidered (July 17, 2015)

2014
Douara, Deena. “Toronto Bosnians to fill coffee cups to mark Srebrenica Genocide.” Globe and Mail (July 11, 2014)
Karabegović, Dženeta. “Što Te Nema? – Transnational Cultural Production in the Diaspora in Response to the Srebrenica Genocide.” Nationalism and Ethnic Politics (Vol. 20, Issue 4, 2014)

2013
Goyanes, Rob. “Just Because I’m Open to the Idea Looked Slapped-Together Doesn’t Mean It Wasn’t Cerebral.” Saltyeggs (January 22, 2013)
Hosic, Irfan. Iz/Van Konteksta, Sarajevo: Connectum
Hallenbeck, Brent. “Bosnian artists turn conflict to creative expression.” Burlington Free Press (December 7, 2013)
Queens International 2013, ex. cat. New York: Queens Museum
Smailkadic-Brkic, Azra. “Findzan kahve koji nema ko popiti,” Novo Vrijeme (July 13, 2013)

2012
Hawkes, Martine. “Containing testimony: archiving loss after genocide.” Continuum (Vol. 26, Issue 6, 2012)
Hosic, Irfan. “Odlasci kao pravilo.” Dani (March 30, 2012)
Khimji, Ali. “Where were you?” Emel (April 2012)
Kiliç, Şükrü Oktay. “Kahveleri hazır ama onlar yok.” Radikal Hayat (July 12, 2012)
Soul Seekers: Interpreting the Icon, ex.cat. New York: Trinity Museum

2011
Mindich, Talia. “Coffee and Remembrance.” Burlington Free Press (July, 8 2011)
Pickard, Ken. “A Bosnian Who Calls Burlington Home Commemorates the Srebrenica Massacre.” Seven Days (July 4, 2011)
Ryan, Matt. “Where are you?” Burlington Free Press (July 11, 2011)

2006
Hawkes, Martine. “Transmitting Genocide: Genocide and Art.” M/C Journal (September 1, 2006)