It was July the 11th – Srebrenica Memorial Day. A huge TV Screens on the facade of a shopping mall showed a live stream from Srebrenica Memorial, the Memorial for victims of the genocide which happened in 1995 in the town of Srebrenica. Ordinary people in Sarajevo were also a part of the ceremony on this day as they wore the Flower of Srebrenica on their clothes – a small white piece of fabric with a green dot in the middle. The white part symbolises mourning women leaning over a coffin of a lost one, since the coffins in Srebrenica are covered with green fabric – as a symbol for Islam.
In the morning we met the young local photographer Armin Graca who helped us identifying the places from the collected photos we took with us to Sarajevo. The photos are taken in public space and show different scenes from the siege. Armin described his link to the city as a love-hate relationship and complained a bit about tourism, as the newly built cablecar destroyed the secrecy of his favourite place in the city: the abandoned bobsled track from the Olympic games.
In the evening we went to the centre from Ottoman era, while discussing about our general perception of public space in Sarajevo. As we already mentioned in the first blog, the parks are well maintained but there is nobody lingering there. What really annoys us are the tiny sidewalks, which sometimes just have a width of 30 centimetres.
Cozy space are mostly connected to a commercial use while green spaces and patios are often a fallow where cars are parked occasionally.
Another interesting discovery is the huge amount of small shacks for police and security employees, which are spread all over the city and can be found in front of embassies or government buildings. Probably its just the high density of embassies and government buildings which gives the impression that there are a lot of those shacks compared to the amount of inhabitants of Sarajevo. While getting closer to the centre, we feel that the space is getting more crowded, but we also discover that people are sitting on stairs, socles of statues and flowerpots, while benches are a rare occurrence.
When arriving at the Ottoman centre, Baščaršija, we felt like we would have teleported ourselves 2,000 kilometres to the east. The urban structure of Baščaršija is very different from the Austro-Hungarian one – smaller buildings, narrow streets, pavement of white stone instead of crumbled asphalt, to which we already got used in other parts of the city. One of the greatest difference was the absence of traffic, while other streets are dominated by cars. On the one hand it was a relief for our ears and lungs on the other hand we had to deal with masses of tourists and a Disney Land-related shopping experience where public space without commercialisation does not exist.
After we got through the very crowed Baščaršija, we found an empty parking lot in front of the National Library, which became the symbol of the cultural urbicide in Sarajevo. Although the rebuild National Library became an important sign for a reunited Sarajevo, the space around the building is not inviting to stay there. Was public space left out when rebuilding the city?