Maja Bajevic, Etui, 2005, in situ project / single-channel video installation (20’50”), color, sound.
Exhibition view: Home Again, National Gallery of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ars Aevi Contemporary Art Museum, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (Curators Maja Bobar and Asja Mandic), 2006.
Photo documentation: Dejan Vekic
Before the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina the leather industry was one of the leading industries in Visoko, a region close to Sarajevo. A huge factory produced leather clothes for the market of ex-Yugoslavia as well as for export. It was one of the rare examples where industry was in sync with regional tradition. The treating of leather is something deeply embedded in the regional skill-set and economy — something like a second skin.
The factory is empty now. The huge building now uses only 20 percent of its capacity. During the war period it became completely out of date. Next to it an Italian company is building a new factory for leather clothes that will re-employ workers from the old factory — but only the young and healthy workers. Smaller, private leather manufactories do still exist though, often in houses or next to houses completely or partly destroyed during the war.
The project consisted of making a ‘dress’ out of leather — a protection — for a house in the center of old-town Sarajevo. The leather — the skin — took on the same protective function that it has for animals and human beings, only now it was for a house that is built out of material much stronger than the skin itself, making it an absurd situation. More than anything it reveals the fragility of the house; it makes it human. It is also reminiscent of the military (firearms are kept in leather protection), and at the same time alludes to the leather industry that has nourished the region for centuries.
This video installation addresses the question of economic transition in post-socialist countries. Does transition actually lead somewhere, or is it a self-satisfied, violent state of affairs? Or can protection from change in fact be an imprisonment as well?