Baby Universe Festival (Summer '94)

Year of Production
Summer 1994 (5 July – 25 August)
Location of Production
Different locations within the besieged Sarajevo
Festival (Public Events, Exhibits, Mobile University – Academic Lectures, Performances, Concerts, Book Readings, Library events and Theatre plays)
Original Language
Bosnian and English
The Siege of Sarajevo 1992 - 1996: celebrating phenomenon of Cultural Survival, and introducing new educational models through the concept of 'Mobile University.'
Research Period
1992 - 1994
The besieged Sarajevo and globally via media reports and interviews
Amidst impossible conditions, the Festival succeeded to organise and stage close to 15 different types of events across the city. It hosted and presented works of local and international artists, professors, journalists, intellectuals, actors, musicians and theatre directors. Their work and talent was presented through series of Public Events, Exhibits, Mobile University – Academic Lectures, Concerts, Book Readings, Library events and Theatre plays.
The Project was organised in partnership with International Film and Theatre Festival Sarajevo (MESS). Festival Executive Director: Haris Pašović


FAMA events
Executive producer
Suada Kapic
Robert Donia, John Fine, Ognjenka Finci, Amra Zulfikarpasic, Enes Sivac, Mustafa Skopljak, Senada Kreso, Emir Kasumagic Dragan Rokvic
© 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.

Baby Universe Festival (Summer '94)

Thanks to the so called Blue Road, the siege was briefly lifted. Naturally, special permits were required to either exit or enter the city. Following the cultural survival strategy, together with Haris Pasovic, we decided to transform that short summer break into a holiday of culture and intellect. Using the matrix of life outside the siege, we arranged these events as a festival. The festival began in front of the National Theatre (today Susan Sontag Square, due to the huge support Susan Sontag provided to survival of the city under siege). That was the first time the citizens of besieged Sarajevo were offered opportunity to sit in the open air (exposed to sniper nests, but because of the truce there was no shooting), and listen to O Sole Mio performed by Srdjan Jevdjevic. His powerful voice and their faint feeling of freedom provoked heated emotions. People cried from the beauty of it all. For two years they stoically endured all the tragedy and horror, but Srdjan's voice and the summer breeze – as if coming from the sea – caused an outburst of emotions. That was the reason we gave them the festival: so that all of us would feel like normal people, even for the shortest of moments.

About the project

During the siege, the art in Sarajevo proved that the power of creativity significantly improved the people's spiritual strength even under the worst conditions. FAMA International and the International Film and Theatre Festival Sarajevo organized a summer art festival BABY UNIVERSE which took place in Sarajevo between July 5 and August 25.

Sarajevo: Art and Philosophy of Survival
Two and half years into the war, our city was stabilized. We created a new city, a new way of life and a new philosophy of living in a post-cataclysm environment. 2,000 shells a day brought destruction, theft, black market, death. The war destroyed the hardware of civilization – buildings and water, electricity, and gas lines. But Sarajevo did not die. Under the destruction, a thin line of purity remained. In spite of terror and all kinds of shortages, people kept working in order to save the essentials of a society and community.
We survived because we integrated humour and innovation into every part of our lives. The humanity was distilled into the obvious, such as food and water, and more subtly, into the community and art. Even in the worst imaginable conditions, the Art significantly improved our spiritual strength. All artistic forms and models, new and old techniques alike, proved to be important at all levels of survival, even the most fundamental ones. Creativity provided the mental freedom which in turn encouraged the spirit of tolerance and multiculturalism. With this renewed ethical approach towards living, our minds cleared and we once again felt like human beings capable of emotions.
Sarajevo is a symbol of liberation. Our ability to be born out of nothing mirrors the Steven Hawking's physics theory – the disintegration of stars creates an appearance of nothingness, but black holes allow information within them to escape. The siege that Sarajevo experienced will happen elsewhere in the world of the 21st century. Sarajevo is a hopeful example for the future, a sustainable model of surviving the modern urban cataclysm. The knowledge and skills accumulated during the siege have a great potential to inspire and prepare the world for the 21st century.
All is possible. Surviving on the bare necessities, Sarajevo no longer used pesticides or created pollution. We realized the New Age objectives of health, ecology, agricultural awareness, recycling, and self-sufficiency. But the perfect model of survival could only be realized through support of the international community. Sarajevo needs technology, education, and cultural information from rest of the world. And the world needs Sarajevo's experience and knowledge. All of us are ready for the isolation to end and this exchange to begin.

Baby Universe Festival (Summer '94) – List of Events:

• Elements for Construction of Landscapes
(July 16, 1994)

• Hamdija Kreševljaković Library
(July 18, 1994)
Hamdija Kreševljaković's House

• Survival Art Museum
(July 22, 1994)

• Mobile University
(July 29-August 22, 1994)
Hamdija Kreševljaković's House, The Jewish Museum

• Sarajevo's Naive Painting
(August 1, 1994)
Baby Universe Gallery

• Scheherzade 2001 (Book II)
(August 6, 1994)
Svrzo's House

• Silk Drums III
(August 6, 1994)
Svrzo's House

• Paul Auster: In the country of last things
(August 20, 1994)
Svrzo's House

• In the country of last things
(August 21, 1994)
Svrzo's House

• Outrunning the Wind
(August 24, 1994)
The Miljacka River

• Baby Universe Music
(August 25, 1994)
The Jewish Museum, Svrzo's House, Hamdija Kreševljaković's House. Survival Art Museum

• Survival show
(August 25, 1994)
Svrzo's House, the Miljacka River