Bedtime Stories

Six-channel sound installation │ 03'13" │ 07'34" │ 04'30" │ 05'19" │ 03'24" │ 04'54" │ loop │ 2011
[in collaboration with Adela Jušić]

During the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, people had to spend a lot of time sleeping and living in basements, sometimes for days and weeks at a time without leaving those spaces at all. Sarajevo was under the siege during 1425 days; the longest siege of one capital city in the history of modern warfare. Living in houses was almost impossible due to the constant grenade attacks.

The basements in the apartment buildings had small spaces, one for every apartment. These spaces were transformed into sleeping rooms. The size of these spaces could be as little as one-meter-wide and two meters long because their natural function was storage. These storage spaces were usually full of old things, or things that just don’t belong inside apartments. They were emptied as soon as the first grenades fell on Sarajevo. Because of the size of interior spaces, only the bed could fit inside, and nothing else. Most of these spaces had wooden bars and not real doors. Sometimes as many as three people slept inside each one. It is hard to imagine this life inside a basement. People formed a special community with its own rules and a new system of survival. They shared everything, from food to clothes, from happiness to misery. 

Through written and audio interviews, we collected stories that happened in the basements during the war. The stories are written or told by our friends and family members. Without too many instructions or limitations, contributors were asked to describe a personal experience, an event, to tell us a story that happened in the space of basement, or possibly in some other kind of war shelter in the sieged city. As a result, we have gathered a diverse array of texts, from the more structured narratives, to the more emotional responses, or literary ones. 

Focusing on individual stories around a specific set of events, we show the spectrum of very different perspectives and diverse approaches to documenting and remembering a situation of deep historical relevance.


Sound recording: Lana Čmajčanin and Adela Jušić
Sound editing and music: Ognjen Šavija
Language: Bosnian-Herzegovinian, English
Voice over: Neda Tadić
Translation assistance: Mike Iacavone

Special thanks to our friends for the stories
Leila Čmajčanin, Emir Kapetanović, Aida Vežić, Šemsudin Maljević, Jasenka Paralija

and special thanks to
Haris Bilalović, Dejan Vladić, Sloven Anzulović