Memory Module – Guardian of the tragic past memories

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Nihad Kreševljaković FOTO: VELIJA HASANBEGOVIĆ

The Memory Module is a cultural project of the International Theater Festival MESS, which was launched as an idea during the siege of the city of Sarajevo in 1995. Today it is a manifestation with the longest continuity when it comes to programs aiming at preserving and developing a culture of memory.

When the program was designed, the basic theme was the relation between mind and emotions. The idea was to try to find answers to questions: “How is genocide, destruction of cities, cultural and religious heritage possible in the midst of Europe? How is it possible that at the same, time so rapidly, the technological development and destruction of everything that it creates is so effective? How to defend yourself from this? What is the effect of all this on art “?

Affirmation of Art

Since then, until today, the goal of all organized programs was to preserve the memory of the tragic past, but also to recognize all the values ​​that this period produced. On the other hand, Memory Module did not deal exclusively with the experiences from Bosnia and Herzegovina, but tried to keep track of developments around the world year after year pointing to art and human magnitude in radical situations. Memory Module has always affirmed and favored art as a synthesis of ethical and aesthetic criteria.

In 1996, within the Module of Memory in Sarajevo, scientists, historians, philosophers and artists from the country and the world gathered at the conference “Living With Awareness of Genocide”. Among the guests were Joan Ringelheim, director of the Holocaust Museum of Holocaust Oral History Department, and Claude Lanzmann, author of the film and book “Shoah”, which was presented in Bosnian language.

In the years that followed, as part of the Modul Memoria program, about 200 different programs were implemented. Books in Bosnian were published, such as the book “Love thy neighbor”, by Peter Mass, or “The invention of solitude” by Paul Auster. TV production of “Mahaabharata” by Peter Brook has been presented, TV series “A Glorious Accident” by Wim Kayzer, was also presented. A large number of theatrical plays of domestic and international directors have been played. Within the Module of Memoria, documentary film GRETA of director Haris Pašović was also realized. This is a film about Greta Ferušić, the only woman in the world who survived both, the Auschwitz and the siege of Sarajevo. On the tenth anniversary of the siege of the city, besides numerous other programs, a fashion show was organized in which the models were wearing clothes of citizens of Sarajevo from the time of the siege…

When it comes to knowing the role and importance of MESS during the siege of Sarajevo, it is no wonder that the organizer of this program is exactly one of the biggest and most important theatrical festivals in South East Europe.

Thanks to the work of the MESS Festival, as well as other cultural institutions in Sarajevo under the siege, the term “cultural resistance” was created. During that period, guests of the MESS Festival in Sarajevo were some of the world’s most important artists such as Peter Schumann, Vanessa Redgrave or Susan Sontag… MESS Festival produced hundreds of other programs in the days of the siege, and produced “Waiting for Godot” directed by Susan Sontag, and organized the first film festival where the crowds came running across the crossroads exposed to sniper rifles and grenades.

Rich Program

As part of this year’s 2018 Memory Module Program, numerous art programs will again be presented in Sarajevo that remind us of the strength and potential of man to strive for beauty, goodness and justice in the worst situations. The audience will have the opportunity to see the photographic exhibition by Velija Hasnbegović about the people who were victims of the war, and today they are heroes of peace. Bosnian-American Suki Medenčević exhibits photos under the name “Windows to the World, Windows to the Soul” … A group of photographers presents photographs by the name FREEDOM in which they deal with the story of refugees.

European premier of fantastic film NEVER LEAVE ME, by one of the most successful BH director Aida Begić also follows the drama of children who were left without parents during the refugee crisis. The Bosnian award-winning film of Alen Drljević MUŠKARCI NE PLAČU will also be shown, as well as the short film by British director Chris Villiers “Snow for Water”, which received a special award at the Berlinale 2018 Festival.

Audiences will once again have the opportunity to be acquainted with the specific heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina through films, performances, photographic exhibitions, book promotions, conversations and art installations. On that occasion, they will testify that difficult experiences are not a reason for lamenting fate and the past. Memory Module, for more than two decades, proves that hard and painful human experiences are actually the reason and motive for all of us to be better and more compassionate as humans.

Writer: Nihad Kreševljaković, Director of MESS