Šejla Kamerić‘s exhibition “When the Heart Goes Bing Bam Boom” in Arter Istanbul is full of ambiguities, hopes and horrors. Fury, euphoria, fear – a range of human impulses made it’s way into her works, which often deal with the horror of the Balkan wars the artist witnessed during her youth. However – one thing is clear: despite the cruelties they often address, Kameric’s works are bursting with life.
The Bosnian artist has made herself a name for expressing the highly political, often the traumatic in subtle, with a sensitive imagery, for her ability to chose a quiet, often even a sublime visual language to process horrors observed, confronted with or lived through.
Kamerić was sixteen when the Bosnian war broke out and she was marooned in the siege of Sarajevo for the four years of it’s lasting. The events of the war, the traces it left on people and land as well as the public processing (or non-processing) of that time’s events crucially influenced her art ever since. In an earlier interview, she describes her working process like this: „For me, art is not a goal—rather, it’s a means of self-identification. The work that I am doing comes very naturally from the things I experience, from things I am feeling, and that concern me. The things that I see or witness basically inspire all of my art. My art rarely is an act of conscious decision or purely conceptual“, and this is may be what makes her works so striking and intense.
She seems to approach these events from a very personal side, and that is materializing them to something nearly physical. Her works are rather infused by the political than aiming towards it. This way, Kamerić avoids being didactic or sensational. Her “self portrait” June is June everywhere consists of hundreds of hand-printed black and white photographs, all depicting the same thing: The wall outside Kamerić’s bedroom window in Sarajevo, right from where her head is resting while she sleeps. It’s marked, “scarred” by bullet holes. The marks on the stone equal the marks on the mind, even though more obvious, easier to depict. The almost meditative process of hand-printing the same image over and over again, so many times, becomes a clear stand–in for the processing and reprocessing of traumatic events, and ends with – and this is the vivid, life-affirming strength of many of Kamerić’s works -creation. It is a self-empowerment over the horrors.
Yet personal, her work is far from being a mere tool for processing an individual trauma. Her approach stays ever so intense when she gets too less autobiographical content. The video-installation “Dream House” shows a big, wooden house, laundry hung out outside, in an empty green landscape under a deep blue sky. It’s projected on a fine curtain hung in front of it, puckering and slightly moving, as though breathed on, which makes it look like a dream or a faint memory. The house swells and swells than, until it fills up the whole image. The rushing sound in the background that first reminds of wind now makes one think the house is somehow inflated, and might eventually burst. However, before that happens, the house starts shrinking again – but shrinks into a different background and time of the day. From that part on, the Dream House shifts between numerous settings and skies, from impermeable fog to the Northern lights. The slight movement of the curtain and also the background sound – that now also, reminds of somebody deeply breathing – turn the house into an organic entity.
Wherever it’s set, it remains the same. Yet there lies something impermanent to it, a house – symbolizing clearly home and settlement – not able to settle, it, to inflict the landscape it impermanent stands on and barely inflicted by it, traveling, shifting. The title of the work bares the same ambiguity – implying both the house and home of one’s dreams and the one he has only dreamed of, that never comes into being in reality. In fact, the image shows a refugee home close to Sarajevo. Having that in mind, the building – dreamlike, yet at the same time strangely humanized by the artist – serves as a strong image for the human condition to search for a place of ones own.
The exhibition “When the Heart Goes Bing Bam Boom”, curated by Başak Doğa Temür, is Kamerić’s first solo exhibition in Turkey. Over three floors, it presents works from over the last sixteen years.
Šejla Kamerić graduated from the academy of fine arts in Sarajevo and had numerous solo exhibitions in Eastern Europe, Spain, Austria and Korea over the last years. She engages various artistic techniques in her work, varying from painting over installation, sculpture and video art. Her short movie “What do I know” – which is also part of “When The Heart goes Bing Bam Boom” – was awarded best short film at the Zagreb Film Festival and Best Fiction Film at the Adana Film Festival in 2007 and 2008.
“When the Heart Goes Bing Bam Boom”
December 11th 2015 – February 28th 2016, Arter Istanbul, Istiklal Caddesi no. 211,
Open Tuesday – Thursday: 11 am – 7 pm
Friday – Sunday: 12 – 8 pm
Also have a look ath the review of the 2nd Biennale in Konjic: http://senseoftime.inenart.eu/?p=4003