Sarajevo New Primitives

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In 1982, the spiritual and social climate in Sarajevo changed. The time of postmodernism had begun and a cultural phenomenon began to appear that was, and continues to be, the most autochtonic movement of this region, which went by the name of Sarajevo New Primitives (SNP). The phenomenon definitely signaled an essential change in perception, according to which Bosnia and Herzegovina was a "world of perpetual darkness," a profoundly deep province. "That cherishing of provincialism isn’t accidental. It has for a long time suited the ruling ideologies and policies, it also served the spiritual needs and, even more, the will for political power of the people who, from the war onwards, authoritatively and selfishly transformed people into the masses, because that is how they are easily ruled. Because the province sanctions every spiritual exclusivism, elitism; and everything that comes from without, from the centers that determine fundamental spiritual progress, is received here as degenerate, stunted and is reduced to the level of banality. Degeneracy already exists in that initiative is always expected to come from the outside, without the wish and without the courage to find it in oneself and in one’s own world." Finding a way out of the stereotype of degeneracy, a way to stop the frustration resulting from all types of repression, could only be accomplished by "people with an urban mentality, without complexes of rural origins." At first glance, they were from the margins of society, those that acted underground, practicing subculture and alternative trends, mostly rock musicians. More and more like-minded companions joined them from other disciplines: film, theater, literature, design, architecture, comics, photography and painting. The general spirit of the generation was more and more defined in terms of understanding: my world, my mentality, my sensibility, my sense of humor. It was a time of liberation from that foreign matter that comes from the outside, and time for self-consciousness and self-reliance to take the stage. The movement began without any kind of firm system, except for the basic idea, which was the ‘reexamination of identity.’ The entire phenomenon or movement is a symbiosis of sometimes inconceivably connected things. The indignation of the elite culture towards more ‘primitive forms of spirit’ (urban mentality) was replaced by general mockery at the expense of one and the other, particularly through language and image. In the sphere of visual arts, a space was opened for media without tradition: video, photography, comics and especially graphic design of posters and record covers. In all themes the urban fringe is present but in a highly sophisticated manner, on the highest level technologically possible. Thanks to the media and the technology of print, sound and image, the long-term cultural colonization of Bosnia and Herzegovina was thrown out in practically one stroke. The movement overcame the environment in which it originated and was accepted in the entire region of Yugoslavia in an unprecedented manner. Even at the award ceremony for European film in 1989 in Paris, a special diploma was awarded for "the creative spirit that comes from Sarajevo." In this atmosphere of creative spirit, self-consciousness and self-reliance, Sarajevo was the most open Yugoslav setting. The Skenderia Center and the City Gallery Collegium Artisticum, with YU Dokumenta, the Sarajevo Winter Festival and Obala Art Center, brought to Sarajevo everything that was worth while, a critical selection that was worth presenting and evaluating in equal measures.

Source: Meliha Husedžinović, "Aspects and Positions of Art from Bosnia-Hercegovina 1949-1999" [1]