Before the Fall there was no Fall
Thinking and acting between preenactment and reenactment
Before the Fall there was no Fall is a research-based project that I will develop into a series of (video) works, public encounters and a book in collaboration with other makers and thinkers over the course of 2020. The resulting works will form the closing chapter of a series of works that I have made in recent years.
Central to the project is the way in which different representations of the (ethnic) “Other” were formed by the international community during the wars in Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Western politics itself produced a “civilized” Europe by (re)producing its “barbaric Balkan” counterpart as the radically “Other”. It is in this context that the United Nations signed one of its most controversial resolutions to date, formally establishing a “UN Safe Area” around Srebrenica.
In recent years I did intensive research on the role of representation of the genocide that took place in Srebrenica in the summer of 1995. The core of the research consists of a collection of VHS tapes that I discovered in 2014 in a closed archive of the Dutch Ministry of Defense. The tapes document military exercises of Dutch UN battalions prior to their deployment to UN designated Safe Area’s Srebrenica, Bihać and the Sapna finger, located in Eastern Bosnia in 1994/1995. After four years of negotiation, and on the basis of the Freedom of Information Act, the tapes were finally released to me in the fall of 2018.
The development of the material will translate into a series of episodic video works in which I want to focus on how the perception of race has instilled a profound impression on the culture of a Dutch Western military regime and how that cultural archive has influenced the behaviour of its soldiers. Central to this is the question of how thinking the “Self” in relation to the “Other” has influenced the behaviour and interpretation of their role as Dutch UN peacekeepers. And how to insert the found and archival material into public discourse in such a way as to shift the common perception of the events that took place in Srebrenica?
Text: Anna Dasović
Anna DASOVIĆ’s artistic practice focuses on the rhetorical structures that make genocidal violence visible and those deployed to obscure politically inconvenient aspects of such conflicts. Central to her work is an exploration into the figure of the bystander and the ways in which the unimaginable and the unrepresentable—categories produced by the discourse on genocide—are evoked to neglect the responsibility of witnessing through representation. Dasović is interested in that rejection and in the exclusion of knowledge that is held in the body but denied by society’s authorizing structures. Though Dasović studied photography, and her installations and videos retain an element of formal precision, she now works in a broadly interdisciplinary manner. Her methodology involves archival research, fieldwork, interviews, and bibliographic research.