Snapshot: America in the time of Coronavirus

Sep 14, 2020

Irfan Hošić, a Visiting Fulbright Scholar from Bosnia & Herzegovina, witnessed a challenging moment in the US’s history, with the Black Lives Matter movement and the impact of a global pandemic.

In June 2020, Irfan and his family took a trip through the US, from Detroit to Cleveland, Pittsburgh and New York. They documented their trip and edited it into a short video providing a snapshot of the US in 2020.

“It was a last minute decision for us to make this spontaneous road trip. It turned out to be uplifting and motivating. It shall be one of our most unforgettable and life lasting memories.” - Irfan Hošić

Interview with Irfan Hošić

What inspired you to take this road trip and record your experiences?

We were always dreaming about road-trips through America and this was the perfect moment for it.

Being in USA for me and my family was an extraordinary chance to spend time together, do new things, and discover the country. We had a lot of plans, yet they changed due the pandemic. We recognised that life must go on and that we are smart enough to live with the virus. So we decided to make a road trip from Detroit where we lived, to Cleveland OH, Pittsburgh PA and New York City NY.

The decision to hit the road was made at the last minute, and thrilling point was: “let’s do it now or never”. We were scared because many of our friends from NYC reported that the situation there was terrible. However, we said to ourselves that we can manage it.

We were always dreaming about road-trips through America and this was the perfect moment for it.

Your research and curatorial practice focuses on art in the context of crisis and conflicts. How did your experiences as a Fulbright Scholar in the US enhance your work in this area?

From the beginning, I chose to work and collaborate in Detroit. I had the opportunity to learn about Detroit in my previous visits to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 2013 and 2015. Detroit is a very unique place with a strong sense of solidarity which probably emerged out of crisis that is shaping the city since over the last few decades. Its streets and neighbourhoods cherish openness and inspire diverse practice of do-it-yourself culture. There are a range of different socially engaged initiatives that are so authentically Detroitish.

I was thrilled by the kinship between the post-socialist context of Sarajevo and the post-capitalist context of Detroit.

As an art historian I was so curious about how art production, art management and art organisation comes out from such soil. What are the constitutive elements of its art production and, moreover, how is Detroit’s case similar to the places I come from, particularly Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I was thrilled by the kinship between the post-socialist context of Sarajevo and the post-capitalist context of Detroit. Some American scholars even call Detroit a post-American place which is so intriguing and interesting.

As a curator I was so inspired with Detroit’s bottom-up initiatives and so-called post-studio practice. At the moment I am establishing a Center for Contemporary Culture KRAK in the city of Bihać in Bosnia, and on its conceptual level, I am bounded to the social practice I met in Detroit. I would even claim that Detroit is well known not only for its Motown Production from the 1960’s, Techno music from the 1980’s, but also for its authentic social art practice. Detroit is a capital and place to be. I am looking forward to the future opportunities to establish collaboration between Bosnian and Detroit artist, educator and practitioners.

You lead on initiatives to promote interdisciplinary academic and artistic initiatives in the Bihać region of Bosnia and Herzegovina. For those unfamiliar with Bihać, what distinguishes the city’s artistic and cultural identity?

A once strong industrial city, Bihać is nowadays a shrinking city: this creates a unique and challenging context for me as an experimenter and practitioner.

Bihać is a small Bosnian city on the border of Croatia and the European Union. After the fall of socialist Yugoslavia and the independence war in the 1990’s, political, economic and cultural dynamics have been radically reshaped. A once strong industrial city, is nowadays a shrinking city: this creates a unique and challenging context for me as an experimenter and practitioner.

Recently, Bihać as a bordering city became a hotspot on the global migrant route toward Western and Northern Europe. With its population of c. 70,000 citizens, Bihać became a gathering spot for around 10,000 migrants and refugees.

The rhythm of the life in the town changes from season to season and builds an interesting ambience for different strategies of engagement and social interaction. Yet, there is an opportunity for Bihać to support the enhancement of human rights and democracy – the goods that are hard to achieve and to keep intact.


About the author

Irfan Hošić’s scope of research is modern and contemporary arts, design, fashion, and architecture. He is the author of the book Iz/Van konteksta (Out of Context, Connectum Sarajevo, 2013). He is also editor-in-chief of nomadic fanzine Revizor. Hošić was a curator of the Pavilion of Bosnia and Herzegovina at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013. He is also the author of several exhibitions, such as What is Abstraction? (2007), Art and Terrorism (2009), Alem Korkut. Sculpture (2011), Clothing as a Symbol of Identity (2012), Spomenko Škrbić. Works (2013), Artefacts of a Future Past (2020), and some others. He is also the editor of numerous theoretical and scientific publications such as attention! Clothing, Art, Identity (2014), Crisis, Arts, Action (2015), Retrography of Design (2017) and Design and Crisis (2020). He is the founder and director of the Foundation Revizor (2016) and founder of the Center for contemporary culture KRAK (Bihać, 2019). As a Fulbright Visiting Scholar, Irfan spent a year at College for Creative Studies and Wayne State University in Detroit (2019/2020). Irfan is an assistant professor at the Textile Department at the University of Bihać, where he lectures Art History and Modern Art and Design. He works as an art critic and a freelance curator.


Other news