PROJECTS - Lana Čmajčanin - visual artist

551.35 - Geometry of Time

Installation │ lightbox, print on Barrisol canvas │ 2014
Dimension 306 x 395 x 25 cm

551.35 – Geometry of Time confronts us with various delimitations of the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, whose borders were set and changed following dynamic and intense historical processes. It points out the social and political reality of Bosnia and Herzegovina by illuminating the conflictual and unstable nature of its territory. For centuries the borders were set by wars and peace treaties, while in 19th and 20th centuries they were constituted by turbulent ideological events. At the time cartography turned into political geography and produced openly nationalistic, imperialistic, intentionally educational maps with a clearly underlined territorial nature. Besides the territory they represent, historical maps of Bosnia and Herzegovina thus also map the interests and conquest plans of cartographers throughout history. 

In 551.35 – Geometry of Time the light object that illuminates multiple layers of overlapping maps of the territories of former Yugoslav republics serves the same purposes as the special tables used in the army to enable a more precise, clearer reading of maps. Since the density of marks makes the borders unclear, the work can be read as an overlapping of all previous text that results in illegibility and the inability to consider the sovereignty and statehood of this area as it is today through the numerous layers of the past. 


Installation entitled 551.35 - Geometry of Time acquaints us with the concept of what might be called geometry of geopolitics. The installation consists of 35 selected maps which defined the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina during the last 551 years. Overlapping on a lit background, instead of showing distinct and clear borders, these maps evidence their shifts, deviations and instability caused by colonial, imperial, conquering, migrational, martial, as well as ‘peace-keeping’ redesigns. Monumentally conceived with a view to presenting ‘objective’ borders, this installation makes incursion into the geometry of the course of history, since the expected and distinct borders are replaced with a palimpsest of previously subjugated and thus forgotten truths. Palimpsest as a metaphor, transposed from the textual into the domain of visual, calls into question the very linearity of historical time, as well as political and, above all, military strategies of space organisation, thereby highlighting the repetitive patterns of creating (dis)continuous history and cyclicality of historical violence. 

Jelena Petrović