In and out
It is in the circumscribed and intimate atmosphere of the small room of Gallery B-312 that the witness of an intervention carried out by Emanuel Licha, in the summer of 2001, in a building devastated by war, in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, is presented. This intervention, initially filmed and photographed in the absence of an audience, is presented here in its video-documented version. Geographer by education, Emanuel Licha has been sensitized to "landscape issues and ways of interpreting it in its different social, historical and political contexts". His fine arts approach and his interest in architecture have allowed him to "cross-reference these concerns with those concerning the object as considered by a discipline such as sculpture". -In & Out's in situ intervention consisted for the artist in penetrating inside a building, a former elementary school, through a red velvet tube previously fixed to the opening of a hole made by the impact of a shell on one of the exterior walls thus disintegrated, and to exit immediately by retracting the tube with it. For the artist, "this simple action underlines the violence of entering a building through a hole created as a consequence of war" and at the same time underlines the idea of turning over, "that a house from which one is expelled in wartime creates this turning over effect: what was inside is found outside" and vice versa. -For the occasion, the place occupied by the small room was arranged in autarky, creating a kind of reliquary for the appropriation of the witness moment. The shrine is entirely closed except for an opening made in the temporary partition, the only access and permeability opening between the two rooms of the gallery. From the outside, this opening, in the form of a hole on a human scale sufficient for the passage of a body, reveals only shards of light and the sound fragments struck by mortar fire. But from the inside, this experience is of a completely different order, the darkness of the room reinforces the feeling of oppression sustained by the abrupt bombardment of images and the symbolic violence perpetuated by the hammering of sound. Curious or less claustrophobic minds will pass through this passage giving access to the room which has become momentarily condemned, in order to experience aesthetics in all its brutality. -This intervention demonstrates in a scathing and brutal way the intrusive effect of war that can easily be compared to rape, both physical and symbolic, from which one never emerges unscathed; it also demonstrates that the repressive aspect of this type of conflict attacks not only individuals in their social and moral integrity, but also in their physical and mental space. The choice of the site of a former elementary school devastated by war cannot be fortuitous and is a powerful reminder that military conflicts are not just adult games, that so-called collateral damage targets the very basis of any society.
-Translation of a text by Marc Desjardins