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Laumeier Sculpture Park explores remembrance, connection, and strength of community in new exhibition
Installation view of Aida Šehović: ŠTO TE NEMA at Laumeier Sculpture Park, 2021. Photo by ProPhotoSTL.

ST. LOUIS, MO.- Laumeier Sculpture Park explores themes of collective remembrance, community resilience and healing through its exhibition Aida Šehović: ŠTO TE NEMA, on view September 25 - December 19, 2021 in the Aronson Fine Arts Center’s Whitaker Foundation Gallery. The exhibition is an archive of Bosnian-born artist Aida Šehović’s nomadic monument titled ŠTO TE NEMA (“where have you been” in Bosnian) that honors the victims of the Srebrenica genocide, during which more than 8,372 Muslim men and boys were systematically executed. The exhibition at Laumeier features a collection of more than 8,372 fildžani (small porcelain coffee cups) donated by Bosnian families from the diaspora, posters from the project, and a photo installation of the related body of work titled Family Album, 2018.

“The total number of fildžani roughly corresponds to the growing number of body remains found, identified, and buried to date,” says Šehović. “Uniting survivors and everyone else directly or indirectly affected by genocide, ŠTO TE NEMA creates an inclusive space allowing us to confront the universal issues surrounding genocide by remembering, mourning, and healing together as a unified community.”

Having fled her home country in 1992 due to the threat of systematic violence and persecution, Šehović combines ritual, politics, and social engagement to address her own cultural heritage and history. To mark the anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide, which began on July 11, 1995, Šehović presented ŠTO TE NEMA in partnership with Bosnian diaspora communities in various public squares around the world on July 11 every year between 2006 and 2020. In each city, the public was invited to participate in the creation of the monument by placing the collected cups on the ground and filling them with Bosnian coffee prepared on site throughout the day. The coffee remained in the cups in memory of the victims. In 2020, the final iteration of ŠTO TE NEMA in its original form took place in the Memorial Center Srebrenica-Potočari.

“We are so pleased to host Aida Šehović’s ŠTO TE NEMA archive here at Laumeier. Her project is powerful, meaningful, and relevant to our community in St. Louis. Her work addresses a number of big themes, such as remembrance, ritual and community, and more specifically how history and memory are represented in public space,” says Dana Turkovic, Curator at Laumeier Sculpture Park.

One of these themes that is being explored is the Bosnian daily ritual of sharing coffee with loved ones, which is an important cultural and familial practice in the region. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, an invitation for a coffee is an invitation for a conversation. Planned public programming at Laumeier will connect to this theme by encouraging participants to take the time needed to make and drink a cup of traditional Bosnian coffee, while coming together to connect with one another.

As Laumeier’s 2021 Visiting Artist In Residence, Šehović will make multiple trips to St. Louis to engage with the local Bosnian community around the ideas of collective remembrance, displacement, mourning, and community healing through monuments and public engagement. These visits will allow her to explore issues of importance to this region and shape public programming that will correspond to her exhibition. She will work with Laumeier’s 2021 Cultural Thinker In Residence, Bosnian-born community organizer Elvir Mandžukić, to bridge connections and develop productive partnerships within St. Louis.

Šehović’s first trip to St. Louis occurred in early April, during which, she met with representatives from the Center for Bosnian Studies at Fontbonne University, Privredna Komora BiH in St Louis, St. Louis Mosaic Project, and Missouri History Museum as well as several leaders of St. Louis’ large Bosnian community.

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