Pula - Croatian Defenders’ Home, from 1st until 10th December 2017

  • Emir Imamović Pirke

Herzegovina Reads

The Balkan wars, waged in the last decade of the past century, have not only resulted inthe independance of the seven states, but also in shifts regarding identity, politics and culture within preexisting, well-known and distinctive regions. While Istria has been strenghthening its identities andits distinguishing features, and Dalmatia,on the other hand,has suffered through an enormous identity crisis, almosthalf of Bosnia and Herzegovina has essentially ceased to exist.

As a Mediterranean region, Herzegovina exists solely within the name of the country - Bosnia and Herzegovina. Despite it being a single area spreading from Konjice to Neum, and from Tomislavgrad to Trebinje, two borders cut through it: the one made legal between the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Bosnia's Serb Republic, and the invisible, but deeply traumatic one, drawn up aftera year-long armed conflict between Bosniaks and Croats.

For the first time in its centuries-long history, it's as if Herzegovina is no more. Still, this does not imply that Herzegovinian culture - whether created in Herzegovina itself,or imprinted on the memory of Herzegovinians living far from the banks of the rivers Neretva, Radobolja, Bregava, Lištica or Trebišnjica - vanished away as well.

Today we can approach the subject of Herzegovina from different angles, but when discussedin the context of literary production, visual arts, theater, music and film, then one can, and is bound to talk about poets belonging to different generations, prose writers, screenwriters, theatre and film directors, painters, musicians – both living and dead -who were born in Herzegovina or spent their formative years there, such as writer Mirko Kovač, poets Savfet-beg Bašagić, Aleksa Šantić, Antun Branko Šimić and Mak Dizdar, Oscar-winning director Dušan Vukotić, writer and painter Zulfikar Žuka Džumhur, sevdalinka singer Safet Isović, director Fadil Hadžić...

Herzegovina also represents artistic or emotional roots of Bosnian-born Safet Zec and Herzegovinians Bobo Jelčić, Ivica Đikić, Marko Tomaš, Goran Bogdan, Mile Stojić, Ozren Keba, Sergej Trifunović, Almin Kaplan, Elvedin Nezirović... We could go on listing names, everybody having their own way of doing it, until somebody not acquainted with this matter, but having good intentions,would askif there was an end to this piece of land immersed in stone and wonder how much folk can fit into Trebinje, Stolac, Mostar, Široki Brijeg, Jablanica, Nevesinje, Čapljina, Čitluk, Bileća, Konjic, Grude...

The programme „Herzegovina reads“ is not bent on teaching anyone, whoever it might be, everything (s)he should know about Herzegovina. Instead, it intends to showwhy, and because of whom – and the list is unusually long – it is worthwhile to start learning about Herzegovina: why one should read its authors, see its artworks and plays, listen to its sound andget a taste of it.

In other words, by means of presenting the best of what has emerged from and about Herzegovina, this programme intends to lead the way to further exploration of Herzegovina's multilayered substance which produced art bound to this land both when it aspires to the global, the worldly, and when it zooms in on the window of a stone house in Počitelj, a piece of karst landscape scorched with heat,or the whiteness of the mountain peaks marking the region. Žuko Džumhur referred to the latter when writing „When I took this trip, this „wanderlustful roving“ across Herzegovina, I spent a lot of time searching for a map, a real map. Then the monastery Humac near Ljubuški came to my mind, and I remembered myfriends, professor Bonacije and doctor Leonard. In the monastery I came across the first museum everin BiH, founded in 1884, four years before the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo. This is where I came across the map of the Roman paths spreading trough Herzegovina...“

„Herzegovina Reads“ represents one more map for the journey which is not far away, but it can last for as long as it takes. And it takes a lot...