Artists from Sarajevo arrive in Belfast

Queen's University hosts major cross-cultural event exploring art and conflict

The role of the arts in conflict transformation in Belfast and Sarajevo will be explored at Queen’s University, Belfast next week, when the Belfast/Sarajevo Initiative for the Creative and Performing Arts welcomes some of Sarajevo’s best-known artists. 

The artists will discuss their work and the role of the arts in documenting and remembering the conflict that raged in the Bosnian city in the early 1990s. The event has been organised by three Queen's postgraduate drama students. 

Conference organiser Michelle Young, from County Tyrone, said: 'While Belfast and Sarajevo have endured terrible conflicts, both cities have emerged from these conflicts to become major centres for culture and arts. 

'This conference does not attempt to compare the Bosnian War to the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’. Rather, we aim to look at how art in all its forms – from photography, to theatre, to film – can document a conflict, record the conflict-transformation process, and help remember the past.'

Artists from Sarajevo will be in residence at Queen's from October 26-30, working with students and participating in presentations and round-table discussions with a selection of Belfast practitioners working in the fields of art, photography and theatre. 

Events include a photography workshop with the renowned documentary photographer and artist, Andrej Djerkovic on Tuesday 27, and the screening of the multi award-winning film, Snijeg (Snow) at the QFT on Wednesday 28. The film is introduced by screenwriter and producer, Elma Tataragic. 

Public events include a round-table discussion on placing the photo image in a post-conflict context, with contributions from Andrej Djerkovic and Sean McKernan, Frankie Quinn and Sean Hillen, and a day of cross-cultural exchange at the Brian Friel Theatre on Friday 30 with Paula McFetridge of Kabosh, David Grant and playwright Owen McCafferty.

Merita Zekovic, from the former Yugoslavia, is studying for a PhD in cultural exchange between Belfast and Sarajevo. 'Visionary director Haris Pasovic will share his thoughts on the survival, role and responsibility of theatre during and after conflict. Pasovic is responsible for some of the most iconic theatrical events in the former Yugoslavia, including a spectacular production of Romeo and Juliet in front of the parliament building in Sarajevo in 2002.'

Professor Anna McMullan, chair of drama at Queen’s, said: 'This event will not only help us better understand the important role of the arts in conflict transformation, it will also strengthen links between Queen’s and the Academy of Performing Arts in Sarajevo, and between the vibrant arts communities in both cities.'

The Belfast/Sarajevo Initiative takes place October 26-30 at Queen's University, Belfast. Click here for more details.