War on architecture : scenographic strategies in tracing post-war home in the former SFR Yugoslavia

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This research investigates domestic spaces in the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia following their destruction and abandonment in the wars of the 1990s. It establishes case studies and frameworks for examining sites according to the significance of ‘home’ - before, during and after acts of violence. The research questions the aims, meanings and consequences of the phenomenon of violence against domestic space, in the light of widespread ethnic, cultural and political violence across the globe. The study is distinctive in terms of positioning domestic space as a direct casualty and witness of violence. Its scenographic perspective, here applied inversely, frames war-torn domestic interiors as abandoned mise-en-scenes inscribed with layers of spatial narratives, traces of time, and tactile remnants of past violence and trauma. The study is established on theoretical framing, historical contexts, field trips and an artistic component. Analytical grounds are discovered in phenomenological theories of ‘home’, scenographic and artistic influences, and the ideas of scholars and artists from social, historical, architectural, spatial and psychological studies. The artistic component that I refer to throughout the thesis as ‘TRAVEL’ is a physical and conceptual investigation of the aftermath of ethnic conflicts, and seeks to represent live actions and direct experiences. TRAVEL is an artwork that explores events and phenomena within the critical context of conceptual and performance art, resulting in photographic artefacts presented as a spatial installation and visual essay. This research casts light on the destruction of domestic space, proposing that acts of violence transform the meaning of ‘home’ from the core infrastructure of human existence, identity and belonging to a symbolic representation of ‘the other’. Strategic acts of violence are framed as modes of cultural and ethnic cleansing, and domestic space as their true medium. War-torn domestic ‘homes’ represent survivors of history, and, in metamorphosing into uniquely powerful monuments of collectively-lived trauma, hold the capacity to transform our own relationship with the past.
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