Survival Art Museum '94

Year of Production
Summer 1994
Location of Production
Square in front of the National Theatre, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Museum (Exhibit) Pavilion – the only free-standing structure built amidst total destruction. The project was the extension of Survival Art Museum '92 project.
Original Language
Bosnian and English
The Siege of Sarajevo 1992 - 1996: homage to practical, cultural and personal levels of Survival; preserving and presenting Innovation, Ingenuity and Creativity of ordinary citizens.
Research Period
1992 - 1994
Within the besieged Sarajevo and globally via TV/Media reports and interviews
Multi-media Exhibit communicating personal, cultural and existential levels of survival through display of Survival artefacts and innovations, Sculptures, Paintings, Art Installations, Fashion, Jewellery and Illustrations.
Survival Art Museum '94 was presented within the Baby Universe Festival, organised by FAMA in summer '94. This was the second stage of the 1992 project and will culminate with the The Siege of Sarajevo 1992-1996 Museum planned to open in 2014 in Sarajevo.


Author / Executive Producer
Suada Kapic
Ognjenka Finci
Amra Zulfikarpasic
Art installations
Milenko Simic, Nedzad Begovic, Enes Sivac, Mustafa Skopljak, Nusret Pasic, Emir Kasumagic
© 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.

Survival Art Museum '94

Two months after the city was completely closed off, it became clear that the new reality (of destruction, the shelling and sniping, unlawful deportations, the disruption of lines of communication, the inability to leave the city) had to be accepted as our permanent condition. The acceptance of a distorted normality as the normality implied a change of the way of thinking, and the loss of all former habits once considered the true measures of a civilization which has disappeared. The need for balance made us realize that we must create as they destroy. And so the process began of establishing a balance between destruction and construction, fear and freedom, hunger and creativity, feeling the cold of winter and working – as the law of survival. Thanks to a short-term truce, we set Bosnian house on the square in front of the National Theatre, two years after the siege had started. The Bosnian House was the only facility built in Sarajevo during 1992-1996. It was a basic, recycled construction, but it proved that the theme we found as a golden vein amidst the siege could be further explored. It was important to take one more step towards creating a monument to human nature and strength.

About the project

The only free-standing structure built during the war, the Museum contained jewellery, sculptures, posters, fashion designs, stoves and comic books – the examples of Survival Art created during the Siege, under the barrage of shells and sniper fire. The Museum was integral part of the larger initiative FAMA organized that summer – The Baby Universe Festival. The Survival Art Museum was a small edifice crudely constructed out of materials scavenged from the Marshal Tito barracks. This tiny structure was oddly situated in front of the neoclassical, turn-of-the-century National Theatre building which sheltered it from snipers in the hills above the city. Inside, the assortment of creative oddities, most of which showed no obvious connection to the war that at times raged only yards away, exemplified that the Survival Art had an attitude. In the years to come a similar fate was shared by many, but Sarajevans demonstrated special survival abilities. The city was home of those who nourished hope against all odds, who recognized the fundamentals of human existence in the face of aggression and destruction. In spirit and in hope, Sarajevo was more resplendent than ever.

The subject of our research is the 1992-94 period in Sarajevo, the time of spiritual resistance and physical and cultural survival. Survival Art Museum exhibits the most inventive items like handmade stoves, lamps, types of fuel, carts for running away from snipers, etc. The other section of the Museum shows the records of accomplishments in the fields of sculpture, theatre, publishing, painting, design. Survival Art Museum was placed under the iron construction framing the Bosnian House built in August 1992. The catalogue of the Museum is the Survival Guide Sarajevo – a lesson on the ways of survival in times of post cataclysm.