Сарајево concrète

Lasse-Marc Riek


The recordings that form the basis of my sound piece Сарајево concrète were made in 2004 in the cities of Mostar, Dubrovnik, Sarajevo, and on the old front lines. However, the main focus is on Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, heavily fought over in the Bosnian war, which lasted from April 1992 till December 1995. In the surroundings of Sarajevo there were still many landmines and houses perforated with bullet holes. Villages that were in the front lines were partly abandoned and/or heavily destroyed. These are places where war and terror reigned in the early and mid-1990s.


In 2004, I still saw many traces from that time. I had come to Bosnia to find out what was still audible from the war, which at this time was ten years past. With support of the German development organization, GIZ (Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit), I was able to visit places in a diplomatic vehicle that would otherwise have remained inaccessible for me. We drove to villages that had suffered heavily from the fighting back then. Everywhere I spoke with eyewitnesses from all ethnic groups and of all ages. Some told me of the atrocities that still haunts them years later. Intentionally, I did not record any of these interviews. However, the artistic intervention in the second part of Сарајево concrète can be understood as a response to these conversations.


The central core of the recordings that contribute to this sound piece is the documentation of everyday life: churches and mosques, streetcars, people on the sidewalks and in cafes. Ten years after persecuting and murdering each other, people were living together again in the urban density of Sarajevo. To me, the horrific accounts of the eyewitnesses became the framework in which I encountered the hopes that were animating the newfound everydayness. This optimism informs the sinus tone's upward tapering height, its pressure dissipating in lightness toward the end of the piece.


The material for Сарајево concrète, mainly the sounds of people’s daily routines and their places of worship, is an expression of reverse experiences. What had been destroyed during the war was still missing about a decade later. The violence had left several blank spots. Yet, the recordings not only give space to this emptiness left behind after the war, but also demonstrate the full daily life that filled it. It is a memory of loss that can only be heard in the concrete afterlife. Сарајево concrète is made from such memories.