Mostar – The Flowing and Interspecies Un-war Archive of the Neretva river

Neretva, as an archival medium, is extremely unstable, highly contaminated, and productive. Rivers are temporary repositories—as their waters flow, they remember through sedimentation, while organic metamorphosis and constant movement of organic and non-organic materials create flowing, living and interspecies un-war archives with capacities to slowly transform war violence and its diverse materiality.

In 2017, following research and documentation activities, artist Armina Pilav, archaeologist and diver Damir Ugljen, and filmmaker Matija Kralj, began an interspecies archiving of post-war ecologies. This was done in collaboration with the Neretva river itself, and flows and streams through the city and landscape in general, including existing war archives and hybrid material alliances in Neretva and the city. The violent transformation of the city of Mostar and the river Neretva started during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1992 to 1996. The city historically had been developed along the river banks, the east and west side of Mostar, which are connected by nine bridges, that were important spaces of sociality before the war. As a consequence of the destruction of bridges during the war, the construction of temporary war bridges, and embodied traumas from the inhabitants’ war survival strategies, Neretva and her socio-organic system significantly changed; not only in environmental terms, but also in its spatial and social modes. During wartime, the river ecosystem started to collect and deposit non-organic materials, pieces of exploded bombs, bullets, remnants of temporary bridges built during the war, and other debris. Since that time, the river’s natural ecosystem is constantly becoming, introducing, and re-introducing natural and hybrid species and spaces. Today, the remnants from the war as an integrative part of the pre-war river environment manifest toxic formations of disruptive landscape, in continuous perpetuation.

The Flowing and Intersspecies Archive of the Neretva River from Un War Space Lab on Vimeo.

Documents from the Un-war Archive

Index: Collection/ Holding – Document type (V-Video, P-Photograph, G-Graphic, T-Text) – Location (B-Belgrade, M-Mostar, P-Prizren, S-Sarajevo) – Sequential number.

Photo credit above: Armina Pilav, Un-war Space Lab; Exploding remnants on the Neretva river banks.