Cultural Survival Newsletter 1993-1994

Year of Production
1993 - 1994
Production location
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Original Format
Printed Newsletter (text / photographs)
The Siege of Sarajevo 1992 - 1996: a chronicle of Cultural Survival in the besieged city.
Research Period
1992 - 1994
Records and analyses of cultural and intellectual life within the besieged city: individual creations, public events, multi-media projects, and performing arts.
No. is Issues
winter 1993, spring 1994, summer 1994, autumn 1994
Two sets of two pages printed on each side of an A3 sheet.


Author / Executive Editor
Suada Kapic
Maja Razovic
Art Director
Vjeceslav Kocijan
DTP – Layout
PL Studio
Printed in
Zagreb, Croatia
© FAMA International


Because of their influence, those who watch, observe, analyse and explain meaning to the masses are considered a kind of elite; however if this elite use faulty methodology or have impure intentions, it can lead to disastrous consequences. We, the founders of FAMA, the first independent multi-media company in the former Yugoslavia, were fully aware of the sensitivity of the area in which we chose to invest. From the very beginning of the disintegration of Yugoslavia, we knew that documentation, of all types and forms, would play a vital role in the fate of current and future generations. In keeping with our own personal principles, our methods rely on fact, oral history and recorded documentation (documented documents). It is through our unique insight and gift of foresight that we have been able to develop a step by step methodology that 'makes the obvious visible'.

Gaining insight. This involves watching events attentively with an open mind as an observer rather than a participant, in order to note significant elements of the observed phenomenon; then putting these elements together to identify early signs of any emerging dominant trends that might launch a new process of cause and effect.

Continuing research through oral history. Those who participated in an observed event talk about their own experience of it, without commenting on other participants. These elements are recorded in photo/video format.

Structuring the research. Putting first hand facts and documented documents of a particular event, period or phenomenon into a structure that transfers this knowledge in a form acceptable to an audience, devoid of any indicators that would point to a conclusion. Readers, viewers, students, researchers draw their own conclusions on the basis of the given format.

Converting the structure. This phase involves producing a format suitable for mass production (maps, albums, films, encyclopedias).

Creating a study pack. We have created an educational pack consisting of different sections that can be used for different levels of education, as our unique contribution to the interpretation of the period 1991-1999.

Cultural Survival Newsletter 1993-1994

The situation of the siege was becoming increasingly demanding. The terror was getting more and more sophisticated as practice makes perfect, so we could no longer count on the survival routine. Nothing could be predicted so we could only expect the unexpected, and that which was happening at any given moment was the only thing we were sure of. In order to gain mental stability, we needed to strengthen the counterbalance. In our case it meant following the outstanding creativity unconstrained by the limiting circumstances. Nothing seemed possible by the logic of the external world, or the logic of our former lives. However, we found out that the citizens of Sarajevo lived by the logic of reality and that reality offered new opportunities. We therefore decided to name this condition Cultural Survival, and to follow this subject as a special discovery about human nature.

About the project

Cultural Survival

Sarajevo is a unique city on the planet. It is the site where our civilization was dismantled by intentional violence. But Sarajevo is also a symbol of civil defence, the place where violence was fought with tolerance, fascism with art and culture, destruction with rebuilding, death with humour, an outburst of rural culture with urban one, urban terror with persistently maintained normal city lifestyle. Sarajevo was deprived of all civil, existential and social rights. It was deprived of its right to life. Everything that makes a normal urban living was taken away from Sarajevo and its citizens, all that could be taken away was taken away from them, all except their right to survive by maintaining their right to culture. But among all the destruction and dying, kids were born, birthdays celebrated, weddings carried out. In the city surrounded by the deadly circle of primitivism the exhibitions were opened, movies made, festivals organized, theatre plays and musicals performed.

Sarajevo lives a post-cataclysm. Sarajevo has become a picture of civilization emerging out of cataclysm, making something out of nothing, sending messages for the future. Not because the future is necessarily a future of wars and disasters, but because humans grow old and are born into a world ever less secure. The spirit of the cultural survival is all that survived under the ruins of Sarajevo, all that survived the shelling of our civilization. A renewal of that spirit, the spirit of Sarajevo, must start – now. Sarajevo will otherwise become the graveyard of principles of multiethnicity and human rights.