All We Could Have Done (and What We Can Do Now),
Group Exhibition at Sophia University, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 2016

As a part of the Sophia University United Nations Week June 2016, a group one-day exhibition was held as a part of Symposium: “Facing the Challenge of Living Together: Past, Present and Future of Bosnia & Herzegovina”. Symposium was organized, arranged and moderated by professor Taro Komatsu, Department of Education, Faculty of Human Sciences, Sophia University.

More about event and symposium can be found in the press release at Sophia University website.

The idea of exhibition as complementary part of the symposium started in Sarajevo in March 2015. Professor Komatsu was visiting Bosnia & Herzegovina because of his ongoing research and when we met he said that he was interested in setting up an exhibition of visual artists from Bosnia who were, at the time, living or studying in Tokyo. It turned out that no artists fitted such criteria. In March 2016, when he came back again, we talked about other possibilities, and we came to conclusion that best thing to do is to involve my friend Taida Jašarević Hefford, internationally recognized print maker who has PhD in Arts and work experience from Japanese university, now assistant professor at the Academy of Fine Arts, Trebinje. The idea was to organize exhibition on behalf of Academy of Fine Arts, Trebinje, of her students` work. In this way, students from Bosnia could visually introduce themselves to students of Sophia University, Tokyo. And as this exhibition was a way to celebrate 20 years of B&H – Japan friendship, Taida, with her 10 years of living experience and education from Japan, and me, with my 20 years of watching anime and 15 years of studying Japanese arts, could be the support artists to this group. So it is 20 artists for 20 years, as follow:

Jelena Kukić, Jelena Medan, Jelena Milovanović, Jovan Janus, Lojović Milica, Milica Kerezović, Miloš Dostić, Miloš Kajgo, Monika Radovančević, Muhamed Kafedžić Muha, Narina Živanović, Nevena Kosović, Sonja Beloš, Stefan Rakić, Suzana Vulović, Taida Jašarević Hefford, Tijana Draškić, Tina Stanojević, Vladimir Tomić & Zorana Miličević.

As we were trying to come up with the name that would describe this exhibition and its relation to the symposium, unfortunate event of Jadranka ヤドランカ Stojaković passing away came into news. Immediately, we realized that she was the strongest link between those two countries, and being also a visual artist herself, a print maker, we wanted to dedicate this exhibition In Memoriam of her. As we were struck by her death, Taida, as her personal friend in Tokyo and later in Bosnia, and me, just as an admirer, were stuck to rather pessimistic name for the exhibition, All We Could Have Done, Jadranka’s most famous song, that is in line with Bosnian traditional cultural pathos, but we lacked a Japanese side to it. So to complement each side, additional line to the name was added – and What We Can Do Now. So full name of the exhibition was All We Could Have Done (and What We Can Do Now) or in Japanese 私たちにできたこと(そしてこれからできること). To me, it is as this big step that my country should take and yet not willing to. It is a despair of generation poisoned by the war, and younger generations that still have a chance to clear itself from that poison. This love for life, the energy to get up when you fall and move forward, and not to become immobilized by the grief, is something that I admire in Japanese culture, and I think that we also had it, but we have lost it, as we became country of beggars depending on other countries help. The socialism that I find in Japan, unpoised by raw capitalism, like it was in Bosnia before the war and yet so easily abandoned and forgotten after, was first unexpected thing that I found here in Tokyo.

As we already covered visual artist side of Jadranka, and her love for Japan, I remembered that my friend Damir Imamović met Jadranka for the first time in Tokyo, and he was the one who accompanied her on her last big concert in Sarajevo. His new album with sevdah compositions done by him was released recently. So I asked him if he could lend us the rights to play his album during the exhibition, and add additional note to the whole experience. In this way we also cherished Jadranka’s musical side, her singer-songwriter, her love for sevdah and saz, and her work in spreading the knowledge of those two in Japan. And as Jadranka said to Damir once, it is up to us to carry on.

To quote professor Komatsu „Altogether, 223 individuals turned up for the symposium and exhibition. More than a half of them are Sophian students. The other half are people who have been involved in BiH and the Balkans in one way or another, as well as quite a number of them originally coming from the Balkans. The event served as an opportunity to unite and reunite them.“ Just small note, 223 registered individuals for the symposium and uncounted number of visitors during the day.

So I would like to thank to:

  • Professor Taro Komatsu on his commitment toward this exhibition, and Sophia University staff and students who supported him/us in this project;
  • Marko Musović, Dean of the Academy of Fine Arts Trebinje, for the support of Taida and her students in this international exercise;
  • students of the Academy of Fine Arts Trebinje, who were willing to go out of their comfort zone and send their works in far off land; not many of their older colleagues are willing to take such step;
  • my friends, Taida Jašarević Hefford and Damir Imamović, for enriching my experience of Tokyo in their own unique way;
  • Jadranka Stojaković, for her legacy, we will carry it on.

The brochure from the exhibition available as .pdf file here.