photographs: “Under Construction,” SCCA, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (Curator Dunja Blazevic), 1999. photo: Havis Menija, Dejam Vekic

Women at Work - Under Construction

ArtistMaja BAJEVIĆ
Material/ TechniqueDV
Size/ Duration11 min. 48 sec.
Copyright Notice© Maja BAJEVIĆ
Year of acquisition/ donation2001
DescriptionBorn in Sarajevo, former Yugoslavia (now Bosnia-Herzegovina) in 1967.Lives and works in Paris, France and Berlin, Germany.

Upon receiving an award from the Bosnia-Herzegovina ULUBiH art association in 1991, Maja Bajević studied at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where she remained, due to the Bosnian War, until 1997. She then returned and spent several years in her home country, although she now works mostly out of Paris and Berlin. Bajević’s works, which center on performance and video, blend together in a complex way the environment around her and her own experiences as well as strongly reflecting history and social conditions. In particular she gives expression in a diverse and multilayered manner to various social problems in contemporary society by focusing on and incorporating into her works issues surrounding migrants, the role of women in society, and people and things on the fringes of society.

A representative work from the early stage of Bajević’s career and one of three works created under the title "Women at Work". Over the course of five days, Bajević and five refugees from eastern Bosnia staged a performance that involved embroidering patterns on the netting on the National Gallery of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was covered in scaffolding and netting as part of the repair work on the parts of the building destroyed during the Bosnian War. This footage, which captures this performance, shows the women appearing at around sundown as if relieving the male construction workers who have finished work for the day and silently embroidering patterns under lights. Amidst the contrapositioning of the national cultural heritage items stored in the museum and the homely, local handicraft being created by the women, and the complex intermingling of the daytime construction work of the men and the silent, night time embroidery of the women and private and public realms, the work raises in a multifaceted way issues surrounding gender and the prevailing social situation.