Bojan Stojčić

Bojan Stojčić,“Your visa got approved,” “Die deutsche Turnkunst,” “Silent Hymn,” and “Silent Presence,” all 2020

Deutschsprachige Version des Artikels

When in January 2020 the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin attempted to make a joke on Twitter, the way the social media channel was used turned into an embarrassing blunder. Staff members decided to take part in the game on Twitter “Seduce someone in four words” and tweeted “your visa got approved.” These four words sparked multiple reactions. Many people responded by describing the incredible difficulties they experience in obtaining an entry or residency permit for Germany from this same office. The Foreign Office subsequently released the statement, “Being funny is apparently not always our strong suit,” and thereby again demonstrated a lack of sensitivity about its power to facilitate or hinder entry into the country. Artist Bojan Stojčić from Bosnia-Herzegovina preserved both these tweets by the Foreign Office, presenting them in the exhibition as light boxes. The way he lay a bouquet of flowers in front of his work on the opening night of the exhibition underscored the unconscious self-revelation communicated by the tweets.

Also with the other projects produced during the Fresh A.I.R. Scholarship of the Stiftung Berliner Leben, Bojan Stojčić draws attention to boundaries and politics that are often invisible but nevertheless present in everyday contexts and that define belonging and deny access. His video project “Die deutsche Turnkunst” examines traditional physical exercises in this context. The title of the work is taken from the title of the famous treatise on gymnastics by Friedrich Ludwig Jahn from the year 1816. For his work, Stojčić filmed 88 people who recently migrated to Berlin as they performed an exercise from the historical publication outside in the city. These video performances are shown on twelve screens in random order. One sees people hopping up and down, doing knee bends, stretching, and assuming various fighting positions. It is uncanny that many of the two hundred year old exercises are still familiar today, and they only become ridiculous through multiple repetition or due to the location where they are performed. A twist is added through the way that the city landscape offers alternatives to the devices designed (such as the parallel bars, the high bar, etc.) in the form of bicycle stands and bars used to block things off.  Only when the protagonists use construction site materials to perform Jahn’s exercises does the imagery take a humorous turn.

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The gymnastic exercises thus have an ironic quality, especially because they are carried out by groups of people not originally addressed by Jahn, women and those not considered to be German. Although known today primarily as the “father of gymnastics,” Jahn was a fervent nationalist, whose stated aim was to strengthen and toughen German men. According to Jahn’s ideas, gymnastics not only served the purpose of training the individual, and assumedly male, German, but also as a means of creating a national public body (Völkskörper). When Stojčić reenacts these exercises today with his performers, he not only calls into question the monuments by which Jahn is still commemorated in Germany (like the one in the Hasenheide Park in Berlin), but he also asks whether gymnastics was not a biopolitical technique of modernity, which was not only intended to optimize the functioning of male subjects but also to create an internal mindset. He also asks to what extent the resulting body ideals are still relevant today. And there is a certain humorous twist to his work, which leaves open the question as to what happens when migrants carry out exercises originally developed for Germans.

With the work “Silent Hymn” Stojčić makes reference to another bodily act or ritual that is linked to the concept of the “nation.” The work consists of a white men’s shirt displayed on a hanger in the exhibition space. It bears the outline of a hand where it would be held over the heart, with the appearance as if the wearer had been sprayed by black paint while singing the national anthem. It recalls the controversy surrounding football players who do not carry out this ritual in the manner expected, when certain parts of an anthem remain unheard, or patriotic emotions and national identity is challenged.  It also recalls discussions about certain lyrics for national anthems that are controversial—a discussion currently ongoing in Stojčić’s native country—and that are not sung.  

Finally, his work “Silent Presence” deals with a very different kind of unheard presence or silence. In a three-part series of photographs we see Stojčić himself lying on the floor, while someone vacuums around him. In the second image we see hands scrubbing the floor, and in the third the cleaning lady leaves the room, her face still concealed from view; the silhouette of the artist on the carpet is clearly visible. Marks of his quiet presence remain.

Text: Dr. Kea Wienand

About Bojan Stojčić

Bojan Stojčić (Sarajevo, 1988.) is an artist from Bosnia and Herzegovina. An alum of Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo, Stojčić was most recently granted the Collegium Artisticum Book Award for the self-published artistic project “No Trace Promises The Path”.

Aside from various collective and solo exhibitions, the latter most recently in Grenoble, France and Novi Sad, Serbia, Stojčić is featured in several European collections, including the agnès b. Foundation and Deutsche Telecom collection. When he is not in Berlin, Stojčić runs his art and design studio in Sarajevo.

More information about the artist:

Facebook / Instagram

The online showcase of Fresh A.I.R. #3

Fresh A.I.R. showcase

The online showcase offers an opportunity to get an overview of the highly diverse projects of the third group of Fresh A.I.R. artists with their different kinds of media and aesthetics.

On view are video and photographic materials about the individual projects, each of which is accompanied by an explanatory text that aims to offer insights into the work’s aesthetic experience.

learn more abouth the online showcase