Wednesday, 3 July 2013

The Four Faces of Omarska

The Four Faces Of Omarska

Yesterday two members, Jelena Petrović and Milica Tomić of the Grupa Spomenik (Monument Group) came and ran a full day workshop, the work from which culminated in a final public event in the evening.


The Four Faces of Omarska is an ongoing art project questioning the strategies of production of a memorial commemorating those who had died in the 1990's ethnic cleansing wars in former Yugoslavia. It is constituted of networks of human relations, experiences, their opinions and discussions on the three eras and four faces of the Omarska mine in Republika Srpska.

1. The Omarska mining complex, surface mining site and the deposits of metal in Bosnia during socialism;

2. The Omarska camp, a place of mass killings and torture in the 1990s wars on the territory of the former Yugoslavia;

3. The Omarska mining complex, owned by the multinational company Arcelor Mittal;

4. Omarska as the filming location for the historical ethno-blockbust er Sveti Georgije ubiva aždahu [St. Geogre Shoots the Dragon], a recent Serbian film production.

(Writing taken from Website)

The second group response involved an interview with the monument group who were interviewed with five question and allowed 2.45 minutes (the length of 100ft of 16mm film) to answer, simultaneously, behind, a projection of the Londons Olympic ArcelorMittal Orbit was projected onto a blackboard where 'In the name of cinema, I have not seen and will not see this film' (Pavla Levi, see text 4 below) was written by one man, and rubbed out by two. The idea was to draw a link between the Orbit which is so close to us geographically (Olympic Park in Startford, London) and its relationship to ArcelorMittals ownership and work at the Omarska mine. 
Milica speaking about the 'Whitehouse' on the Omarska site
A group speaking about their ideas half way through the day. 

Over the course of the day, we, as a group were invited into the archive that the FFO group have been collecting material for since 2009. The FFO group has been faced with questions of how to archive undocumented events, information and different experiences around the Omarska Mine.

They often use public working meetings, reading groups, workshops and declarations, using both digital and analogue archives.

After Melica and Jelena introduced the project in the morning, we were then asked to get into groups of five to make a series of responses to what we had seen, heard and been told.

I think it is fair to say, that collectively, as a group we felt reasonably uncomfortable with this prospect since most of us did not feel they had a very deep understanding of the conflict, or what had gone on.

How could we make work about something that was so distant from us, geographically, dislocated from our own experience?

How could this information be presented?

What medium would we use to express ideas that occurred on encountering the small part of the archive?

The final event culminated in five separate performances using a series of mediums such as projection, spoken word, video and translation. To finish the audience was asked to vacate their chairs and leave the building to go on a short circular walk from, to the park and back again. The walk was a space to think about events where human life had been lost.

References, further information.

1. Working Group For Faces of Omarska website

2. Relationship between Omarska Mine and Londons Olympic ArcelorMittal Orbit’s-olympics-orbits-of-responsibility

3. Pavle Levi text on refusing to see a film as a form of protest, in relationship to St. George Shoots the Dragon (2009)

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