Representing Bosnia and Herzegovina at the 55th Venice Biennale is Mladen Miljanovic, who describes his work as a “means of sublimating the negative forms of the past, taking performance, installation, images and photographs as media through which the forms of social trauma are being redefined.” His project, The Garden of Delights, is now showing at the Bosnian Pavilion, and is conceptually based on Hieronymous Bosch’s famous Renaissance triptych of the same name. Without ever being didactic, Miljanovic lightly goads the viewer into considering material objects as forming the common ground for the socio-political, economic and cultural fabric of Balkan society.

The Garden of Delights is both sensitive and anthropological: Miljanovic speaks strongly against “exploiting trauma and presenting the pathetic side of Bosnia”, choosing instead to focus on the positive connotations of remembrance with regard to nation building. His previous job as a tombstone engraver inspired him to incorporate more than one hundred tombstone motifs found and collected in the Central Balkans into his installation. In Miljanovic’s own words, “the graveyard is an area storing an encyclopedia of images of individual lives joined into a garden of collective eternity.” Even in tragedy and unspeakable trauma, there are defiant, resplendent symbols of hope.

Miljanovic’s work will be on display until 24 November.

Pavilion of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Palazzo Malipiero, 3198 San Marco, Venice

All images courtesy of the artist.