During the winter of 2011/2 several of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s cultural institutions closed their doors to the public with many more soon to follow. According to their website, the cause was “the failure of the country’s complex administrative apparatus to ensure operations through the design of adequate funding mechanisms”. The result has caused cultural artifacts, important to the past and present of Bosnia-Herzegovina to remain unseen by locals and visitors. Museums such as the Regional Museum and the Art Gallery have already closed in addition to the National and University Library.
Found in January 2012, Dr. Azra Aksamija, Assistant Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Dr. Maximilian Hartmuth, Historian/Art Historian at the Netherlands Institute in Istanbul, Turkey, along with academics, artists, librarians and other cultural activists living around the world came together to create a plan to respond to the shut downs, respectfully naming the organization ‘CULTURESHUTDOWN.NET’. The organization has no ties to government or political parties but instead has the purpose to help create a debate on the importance of cultural institutions in the life of the country, both in theory and practice. Through the use of multi-media and art projects, the organization hopes to bring world-awareness in drafting cultural policy recommendations for officials around the world, starting with Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The organization states that they “are a global volunteer, non-profit network of scientists and cultural producers, not connected to any governmental institutions, or a political party. As an open civic platform, we are welcoming contributions from authors of any ethnic, national, religious background or professional affiliation. Our ultimate aim is to unite on the global level to help prevent destruction of cultural heritage that belongs to all people of Bosnia and Herzegovina and enriches World heritage” (their website).
The organization has numbered six objectives to their overall mission. They are as followed:
“1.TO MAP STATUS QUO/PROVIDE INFORMATION to both local and global audience about the critical condition of cultural institutions in Bosnia-Herzegovina
2.TO RAISE AWARENESS about the structural, political, and economic problems behind the problem of cultural shutdown, showing how the ethnic conflict continues to take place in post-Dayton Bosnia-Herzegovina within the cultural sphere
3.To EXPRESS PROTEST against the retardation caused by stubborn ethnopolitics
4.To provide RESOURCES/TOOLS that can be useful for cultural producers by learning/from relevant case studies in different places
5.To CONNECT PEOPLE (cultural producers, policy makers, activists, etc) respecting their diverse religious/ethnic/national affiliations and based on their common aspiration for a peaceful and constructive coexistence, and thus encourage creation of a healthier civil society in the region
6.To INSPIRE NEW VISIONS for the future of coexistence in Bosnia-Herzegovina though pro-active visionary proposals and projects”
*Day of Museum Solidarity – March 4, 2012*
(All photographs are from their website)
The past event for CULTURESHUTDOWN.NET’s mission is to create a Day of Museum Solidarity as an international cultural awareness campaign. Dr. Aksamija and his colleges developed the campaign in order to bring awareness to all museums and individuals that if one museum can close, so can any other. He is calling for museum officials, museum visitors and activists to join together by “symbolically ‘erasing’ one precious artwork or artifact, rending it inaccessible for the Day of Museum Solidarity”, as he states on the official website. The website states that the directions to follow as followed: place yellow barricade tape in front of the chosen object. The tape features the CULTURESHUTDOWN logo. Once the tape is up, take a picture of the object being barricade from the public and then send the picture to the organization.