What happens when citizens have the agency to represent their personal experiences in a city? What does a “map” look like when it is drawn and constructed by the people who inhabit the delineated space? What happens to a map when it encompasses themes beyond geography and topography? How can map-making subvert a history of occupation, annexation and conflict in this region?
Fellows channeled their questions into creative energy to build an art-meets-activism “artivism” campaign to address the politicized and charged borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina, more specifically, of Sarajevo.
These are some of the questions Fellows from the Humanity in Action 2018 Sarajevo Fellowship program asked themselves when reflecting on the history of the country, and of Sarajevo more specifically, as a region whose borders have long been redrawn and dictated by imperial powers and the international community. Fellows then channeled their questions into creative energy to build an art-meets-activism “artivism” campaign to address the politicized and charged borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina, more specifically, of Sarajevo. Embarking on a mission to build an interactive, emotionally-driven map of the city that subverts conventional map-making processes, the project resulted in an interactive mapping campaign entitled “Tvoje Sarajevo” (Your Sarajevo) to make space for the citizens of Sarajevo to transcend location and ethnicity and define the emotional landscape of this city on their own terms.
The fellows spent four days collecting over 100 stories and tagging them on a physical map in different parts of the city, and later created a digital map to be accessed online. Their interactions with people on the street who shared stories seemed to prompt inner reflection from the participants, giving them space to think about a special place, reflect on their relationship to their city and consider Sarajevo as an emotional landscape. This too related to the political message of the campaign: Fellows did not ask for the identity of the participants.
Behind each story is an individual whose political and ethnic identity is not relevant to the project, and thus allows these stories, emotions and experiences to become universal.
The hope of these Fellows is that the campaign continues to deconstruct the idea of a map as defined by geography and borders by incorporating emotion and subjective experience into the map-making process.