The fourth and second-to-last biennial of contemporary art opened on Friday at the atomic shelter built by communist Yugoslavia just outside the town of Konjic. The vast shelter, known as the Atomic War Command (ARK), was built from 1953 to 1979 in utmost secrecy and it could have accommodated hundreds of Yugoslavia’s top military and government officials for up to six months.
The biennial opening ceremony was attended by guests and government officials who pointed out the importance shelter has for art and cooperation in the region. This year, six artists added their works to the contemporary art collection in the shelter.
The event was attended by Italy’s deputy minister of culture, Antimo Cesaro, who was there to speak about Italy’s support to the biennial and the collection.
“Culture is a great form of diplomacy and cooperation. We encourage Bosnian authorities to continue protecting and promoting Bosnia’s cultural treasure,” he said.
German ambassador Christiane Hohmann said it was an original idea to organize the event in the shelter, adding it is a great place perfectly repurposed. She added that knowing history is very important to German people and that they are convinced that facing the past is necessary for a successful coexistence in a community.
“Trust, tolerance and understanding are pillars for a better future of BiH. This project gives us a chance to deal with the past, but at the same look to the future,” she said.
The first biennial was organized in 2011, with Serbia and Montenegro being partner-countries. Turkey and Croatia were partner-countries in 2013, and Austria and Albania in 2015. The fifth and last biennial will be organized in 2019.