“Our Family Garden”
Performance – workshop
Eduarda Smiļģa Teātra muzejs, Rīga, E.Smiļģa 37/39
June 18th 2022, 11:00
Smirna Kulenović is a transdisciplinary artist, researcher and educator. She is currently graduating (2022) from the department of Interface Cultures at the University of Arts and Design, Linz (MA), Austria with her thesis “Performing Landscapes of Care” and collaborating with Ars Electronica Center (BioLab and Deep Space). Her practice focuses on performance, participatory, and public art – as methods of addressing cultural, personal and environmental embodiments of identity and memory in post-crisis landscapes. Her latest artistic research focuses on interspecies dialogue and ritualistic microperformativity in the production of analogue and digital mnemonic landscapes.
She is the founder and artistic coordinator of the Collective for artistic research in public space Dobre Kote in Lisbon (Portugal) and Sarajevo (BiH) and the international Nomadic Collective for Performing Spontanoues Action TAZ 22 (Brazil, Italy, France, Portugal, Austria, Bosnia), as well as the curator and founder of the independent art gallery “Brodac” in Sarajevo. Her works are shown, performed and kept in collections internationally from the Royal Institute of Arts Stockholm, Courtauld Institute of Arts London, Careof Milan, Atelier Concorde Paris, Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb, the History Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the National Gallery of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Maneouvre Gallery Berlin, Zaratan Lisbon,…
“Our Family Garden” was designed as a healing ritual. The 28-year-old Kulenović invited women – not only from Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia, but from all over the world – to gather and plant seeds of medicinal calendula into the soil which once held wartime trenches. These plants, also known as marigolds, have antibacterial and antifungal properties, and can be used to treat wounds. Symbolically, the flowers also heal Bosnia’s ethnic divides, and Kulenović’s own personal relationship to the surrounding landscape. “The house where I grew up with my family is just a five-minute walk from [Zlatište]. As children, we used to go there for picnics. When I found out that my grandfather went up to these trenches to defend the city, as well as us, during the Bosnian War, this place started to haunt me”. Together with her mother and her grandmother, Kulenović started to plant seeds of wheat in the area, which had been abandoned since the Siege of Sarajevo in 1995. Witnessing the healing potential of this small gesture, the artist was inspired to open the ritual for a wider audience: creating a lasting, constantly self-transforming, organic monument to the conflict. “The hate speech of our country’s politicians is reflected in official monuments, which are often subject to the manipulation of history. An organic monument is necessary to access this political agenda without using harmful words, but communicating through a healing ecosystem [instead].”