My Refugee Shoes and My Refugee Clothes(1998–2002 revised 2017)

    Charlottenborg Exhibition HallCopenhagen

You all know that Banja Luka, my home town, was subject to a strong earthquake, and some objects of great historical value were badly damaged. Actually I decided to pick out a drawing I did my self with a motive from Banja Luka the Ferhadija mosque from year 1579 and I would like it to be the front page of this first issue of our magazine ’Our Word’. The Ferhadija is a very dear structure to me. With its perfect composition and situation, it is one of the architectual masterpieces of this region.

(—Professor Predrag Marjanović, autumn 1969)

Textby Frederikke Hansen & Tone Olaf Nielsen(2017)

The installation belongs to a body of work that examines how memory and the historical context of a place influence the way in which individuals and society relate to the world.

My Refugee Shoes and My Refugee Clothes is a readymade, a work of art made from manufactured objects, which consists of the teenage shoes and jacket that the artist wore in 1992 when he fled across the border from Bosnia to Croatia. The clothes are simply placed in the corner of the exhibition space and with this readymade format, Ibrahimović is able to capture the urgency of war: the work represents the moment when everyday life is brutally interrupted by a conflict, a disaster, or a crisis so violent that you have no time to pack anything except the clothes on your back. The absence of the body in the installation simultaneously shows what happens to your identity when you flee: life as you know it stops, you are stripped of your different identities – ‘teenager,’ ‘son,’ ‘Bosnian,’ ‘student,’ ‘friend’… – and reduced to one: ‘refugee.’

At a micro level, the work speaks of the fact that people remember their own past selectively, which can result in the dual forgetting of oneself and the collective history to which one belongs. At a macro level, this forgetting allows for repetition: the periodic historical recurrence of violent conflict, mass killing, forced migration, inhospitable resettlement, and xenophobic retort. For each new repetition, the last instance has been forgotten, as if the past is incapable of instructing the present. (– Sarah Lookofsky )


  • Fundamentalisms — note that the word is plural. Every man is an island, fundamentally right, in his own right? But there are so many islands around. These some forty artists (from Europe, the US, and the Middle East) throw their individual views at you, and they cannot all be The One.

    ROR (Revolutions on Request) — a group of four Finns — makes a team of Jesuses play table football against a team of Shivas and sells large stickers with butterflies and cartoon bursts in swastika formation. Nothing seems untouchable: all can be played out against all.
    Gili Dolev is a storyteller who does not fumble with his heavy subject: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. His animation Promise Land (2002) employs aggressive stereotypes, meant to be fun in their narrow know-it-all attitude, placed in a musical/TV - reportage context. Technically and in terms of content, this up-tempo farce has bite.

    Amel Ibrahimovic was overtaken by real life in a way that makes his piece more personal than usual. Frontier police at the Slovenian border recently held him back in a repetition of what happened to him ten years earlier on the very same day. Rules may be established, but their enforcement comes down to the individuals carrying them out. The text material of Ibrahimovic's piece makes it clear that big schemes function in singular ways. Though some rules are believed to be just, individuals may understand otherwise. We may live on ingrained habits like frontier policemen unwilling to update the rules because this is less complicated than actually facing and responding to nuanced reality.