Still by Milomir Kovacevic Strasni
1395 Days Without Red
Two films set in the same period, in the same city, using the same footage, action, characters and soundtrack, show individually harrowing visions of the four-year siege of Sarajevo by Serbian forces in the Nineties.
1395 Days Without Red, a project by Šejla Kamerić and Anri Sala, co-produced by the MACBA and London-based Artangel, was originally meant to be a single film before disagreements led the artists to edit two hour-long films separately.
From 1992 to 1996, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina became the epicentre of a slow war in which barbarities were committed “reminiscent of the Nazi era” (The Guardian). The films recreate a state of fear, abandonment and survival by necessity, in which individual citizens go about their daily lives under the constant threat of indiscriminate snipers. Protected only by the warning to dress as unobtrusively as possible, it is estimated that nearly 10,000 people were killed or went missing in the city during the siege, including over 1,500 children.
Filmed in present day Sarajevo, the films are set only to music, the first movement of Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony, Pathétique, played by the Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra. Artist and film-maker Šejla Kamerić was born in Sarajevo in 1976 and lived through the siege in her late teens, while Anri Sala, born in 1974, grew up under Albanian communism.
Alongside ordinary Sarajevans, Spanish actress Maribel Verdú plays a solitary woman retracing an infamous route known as ‘sniper’s alley’, where pedestrians trying to cross at street corners and open spaces along it became targets. In doing so, she relives the real experiences of Sarajevo’s citizens.
1395 Days Without Red removes the safe haven from which many of us viewed the Balkan war, when aerial images of burning buildings and mass graves seemed horrifying, but distant events. The films make the experience seem immediate and personal, suggesting that one of the most terrifying things about living in a state of fear is the importance of personal choices; when seemingly random events that otherwise would be inconsequential, such as a mistimed dash from one side of the street to the other, being lit by an unexpected beam of sunlight, or by wearing a bright bangle, could cost you your life.
MACBA, October 19th until January 9th, 2012. www.macba.cat