Alma Suljević

Mother of Nation

During the seminar run by Bojana Pejić, we had the opportunity to hear that since the beginning of the 20th century there has been the building of Croatian Cultural Society “Napredak” in Sarajevo, with a sculpture of the Mother of Croats, and that, on the building of the Serb Cultural Society “Prosvjeta”, there has been the sculpture of the Mother of Serbs. During this presentation we have learned that the only nation in the “European family of nations” that does not have its Mother of Nation is the Bosniaks.

Having learned this, I talked to my friends – women who are authors, artists and composers and exchanged views on their proposals. Some proposed Hasanaginica, others, Queen Katarina. Proposals were many, but I was most impressed – in these years of the post-war turmoil in Bosnia – by the mothers from Srebrenica: the socially invisible, without any help from the state (while their beloved ones are not yet exhumed nor identified), on the 11th of each month, they get to streets with empty pillow-cases with embroidered names of their dead relatives – seeking truth. They have become subject of manipulation. Many of them are becoming aware of their position, but they persevere, and unlike the Mothers of Krajina, the Mothers of Eastern Bosnia, and the Mothers of Herzegovina, the Mothers of Srebrenica have grown into a true institution.

I have decided to propose the following: on one of the pillowcases I would embroider the Mother of Nation as I imagine her – as a sculpture standing and holding with both hands a pillowcase with the names embroidered on it. With this pillow-case I would then travel around Bosnia and talk to women in order to find out what they think of it and do we need the Mother of Nation at all or not, and if we do, how do they envisage her. These talks would be recorded so that our women’s talks would be initiated around these issues and we would do things according to our agreements.

Project received for the competition for new monument/artwork in public space in the category “Work in progress”.