Michelangelo Pistoletto has been conferred with Sarajevo’s honorary citizenship: the news was revealed in the past few days, following the decision by the mayor and the whole city council. The deliberation had been set in motion by a motivational letter presented to the administration by Ars Aevi (Ars Aevi Muzej Savremene Umjetnosti Sarajevo), the city’s museum of contemporary art. After considering the application, the mayor Abdulah Skaka and the other politicians have decided to honour the artist from Biella. It is yet to be established when the official ceremony will be, but it might be on 6th April, a meaningful date for the city; that Saturday is in fact “Sarajevo day” (a celebration with a strong historical value for Bosnia and Herzegovina), an opportunity for the administration to reward deserving citizens who have distinguished themselves for virtual activities throughout their professional life. The same way honorary citizenships – if any have been bestowed – are officially conferred.
Art Aevi’s proposal was not accidental, since the collection of this artistic organization includes works by Pistoletto and other world famous artists such as Jannis Kounellis, Joseph Beuys, Braco Dimitrijević and Joseph Kosuth. Not only that, the relationship with Pistoletto has much deeper roots: he was the first artist to donate a work, La porta dello specchio (The door of the mirror), to Ars Aevi’s first part of the collection – the Art of the Epoch; these are the premises of the establishment of the bond with Enver Hadžiomerspahić1, who founded the collection together with his son Anur during the siege of Sarajevo, as an expression of the cultural resistance of the capital. The artistic relationship with Pistoletto has continued throughout the years, with new works and collaborations, and with the creation of Sarajevo’s Rebirth/Third Paradise embassy. In 2017, for example, it was in Sarajevo that the Rebirth ambassadress Manuela Gandini staged a Third Paradise performance that saw the participation of over 600 youths of different ethnicities from seven different cities. Last September, the artist also donated his work Luogo di raccoglimento multireligioso e laico (Multi-religious and lay meditation place)2 to the city: that was the first stage of development and international promotion of Ars Aevi, which aims at permanently installing works by the most famous artists in its collection in urban structures around the city.