Dana Turkovic, Curator of Laumeier Sculpture Park, and Aida Šehović, Independent Artist stopped by to talk about Aida's exhibition ŠTO TE NEMA, which runs through December 19, 2021.
Aida Šehović is an artist and founder of the ŠTO TE NEMA nomadic monument. The project began as a one-time performance with a presentation of the first 923 collected porcelain cups (fildžani) in 2006. Since then, ŠTO TE NEMA has evolved into a participatory community art project organized in close collaboration with Bosnian diaspora communities in a different city each year. For the past 13 years, ŠTO TE NEMA has traveled throughout Europe and the United States, and currently consists of more than 7,500 donated cups (fildžani). This year Šehović worked with Bosnian diaspora communities in Switzerland to bring ŠTO TE NEMA to Helvetia Platz in Zürich on July 11, 2018.
Aida Šehović was born in Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and like thousands of fellow Bosnian Muslims, fled her country due to threat of systematic violence and persecution in 1992. She lived as a refugee in Turkey and Germany before immigrating to United States in 1997. Šehović earned her BA from the University of Vermont in 2002 and her MFA from Hunter College in 2010. She received the ArtsLink Award in 2006, the Jacob K. Javits Fellowship in 2007, the Emerging Artist Fellowship from Socrates Sculpture Park in 2013, and the Fellowship for Utopian Practice from Culture Push in 2017. She was an artist-in-residence at the Santa Fe Art Institute, the Vermont Studio Center, the Grand Central Art Center, and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Her work has been exhibited extensively including at Flux Factory, Socrates Sculpture Park, and Queens Museum in New York City, where the artist is based.
About ŠTO TE NEMA:
When Bosnia and Herzegovina declared its independence from Yugoslavia in 1992, ethno-national divisions plunged the country into war. In July of 1995, Bosnian Serb forces invaded a United Nations Safe Area that included the town of Srebrenica, where thousands of Bosnian Muslims had sought refuge from the surrounding violence. While Bosnian Muslim women and girls were forcibly displaced from Srebrenica following the invasion, the remaining 8,373 men and boys were systematically executed. In 2006, the International Court of Justice officially ruled that these events qualified as genocide. Today, ethnic divisions still divide the region. Serbian and Bosnian Serb leaders continue to deny that the Srebrenica Genocide ever took place.
In response to this denial, Bosnian-American artist Aida Šehović created ŠTO TE NEMA [lit. “Why are you not here?”], a nomadic monument commemorating the 8,373 Bosnian Muslims who died in the Srebrenica Genocide. Šehović has been collecting the porcelain cups traditionally used for coffee service in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the goal of having one cup for each victim. For the past 13 years, on July 11th – the anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide – Šehović partners with local communities around the world to organize the ŠTO TE NEMA monument in the public square of a new city.
Each successful annual rendition of the monument represents a triumph over the forces of rejection, exclusion, and denialism that encourage societies to look away from past atrocities and prevent vital communal remembrance and healing processes from taking place. Reflecting the inclusive and universal spirit of the monument, passersby are invited to participate in the construction of ŠTO TE NEMA by filling cups with Bosnian coffee and leaving them in the square, undrunk, in memory of the victims of the Srebrenica Genocide.