The Project Biennial of Contemporary Art, D-0 ARK Underground takes place for the second time in Konjic, a small Bosnian town not far from Sarajevo, in a Atomic shelter named ARK, codename Istanbul, which Yugoslav army built between 1953 and 1979. This shelter occupies a space of 6.500m2 and consists of 12 connected blocks. It resembles a complicated labyrinth, with residential areas, conference rooms, offices, strategic planning rooms, and other functional areas.
The construction and existence of this bunker was kept secret until the 1990s, when ARK was finally revealed. ARK was built as a military bunker by the former Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) to function as the Main Centre for Military Operations or Military Command and as the shelter for President Josip Broz Tito, his family and his closest associates in case of war.
It was the best kept military secret in Yugoslavia.
Six people knew about the secret called ARK (Atomic War Command): four generals, the Prime Minister and Josip Broz Tito.This exclusive club represented a sort of a Praetorian guard charged with defense of the entire Yogoslavia – its achievemnts, its ideology and its values, fates and lives – from an impending catastrophe.
Nowadays, ARK wants sunshine instead of fluorescent lights, the sound of wind blowing through trees instead of the dull noise of its massive air-conditioning unit. It looks forward to the chatter of people and the sound of their footsteps instead of the noise produced by the closing of its steel anti-nuclear doors. It wants, for the first time, to let images and sounds of life into its dark chambers.
And in its solitude, which lasted half a century, it happily welcomes artists.
Artists bring stories from the real, outside world – sometimes lethargic and funny, sometimes prophetic and horrifying. Today, watching and listening to artists’ messages, we are learning about our past and our present, and beginning to have a feel for what awaits us in future.
Edo Hozic, Director of Project Biennial
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