The Balkans Project began by founding an interactive place for dialogue and exchange that investigates areas of correspondence, empathy, difference, and misrepresentation. The original project, Americanization/Balkanization directly confronted the notoriety of the then recent geopolitical strife. Ultimately, Americanization/Balkanization reflected the pervasive over-simplification of complex cultural histories, current conditions, and future potentials in the Balkans. Through interviews, profiles, dialogue, and artwork – the early Balkans project sought to create an innovative and artistic platform to promote better understanding of the complexities of a post-conflict Balkan society and the impact of the conflict on the United States and the World.
Since, the Balkans project has evolved as a single artistic endeavor focused in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina. The project, Meet Me at the Bridge, emerged from a research trip taken in July 2012 that was followed by Nicolas Estévez’s 4-week residency at Provisions in 2012, the title inspired by the iconic Stari Mostar: the old bridge that connect the city’s eastern and western halves. Mostar’s ethnic diversity, before and after the war, serves a symbolic purpose. Mostar represents both the ethnic tension that resulted in war as well as the present-day challenge of social reintegration.
Performative artist Nicolas Estévez has set out to immerse himself in local civic and social organizations documenting the relationships he created to serve as a memento for those involved as well as offers rare personal insight into life in today’s Mostar. During his first residency Estévez’s performative actions allowed him to become a cultural conduit, inviting people to bridge him to their places, their histories, and their memories through conversations and quotidian activities. The culmination of the initial phase of this ongoing relational process consisted of a pop-up exhibition and celebration held at the storied Bohemian Club, to which Estévez was inducted in the summer 2012, during his first research trip.
With the support of Provisions, Estévez will create a publication that documents the bridges he has created and is creating with the people of Mostar. Even more so, the publication desires to plant a seed for further discussion, scholarly or popular, on the barriers that divide not only Mostar, but all cities, and on the resilient bridges that connect the dreams of its inhabitants.