Very Normal, Very Normal – On a Utopia of Urban Rights explores the potential for utopian visions of the future for Sarajevo. What Sarajevo could become in the future and how it might look, we asked 13 individuals, from whom we expected strong indications, or challenging suggestions if nothing else. Instead, after many hours of lively discussions, we came to realise that the scope of a “utopian” projection today resembles that what was once considered normal. Normality itself has become a utopia.

Understanding what normality in a city like Sarajevo might entail, we compared the European Urban Charter 1 & 2, based on a hard-to-object and wonderful idea of a city for everyone and everyday, with the reality of the city. According to the Council of Europe, these documents, the first one drafted in 1992 and its important revision from 2008, detail what the urban environment should provide for the European citizen. Nothing utopian – but, at first glance, rather an attainable state of utter normality.

Confronting the points outlined in the Charter with the viewpoints and opinions of 13 thinkers, writers, designers, cultural producers and critics we spoke with in Sarajevo – about what the ideal city of the future should be – the normative character of this document quickly becomes subverted. Fragments of the conversations about Sarajevo, a city so burdened by the past that it barely consciously lives in the present moment, arranged by the points of the Charter, indicate elusive and utopian character of its, actually, very normal standards. The absurdity of the expected rights to the city in the context of Sarajevo, combined with the aspirations of our interviewees towards devising normalcy, have provided a framework for a search of utopia today.

The publication Very Normal, Very Normal leads us through doubts, dilemmas, flashes of utopia, pessimism, occasional optimism, motivations, and a couple of brilliant ideas about today’s Sarajevo and its possible future. The accompanying Pickpad poster takes us to the year 2023. The time in which there is no more transition, a time of retro-utopia and black humour, a time in which this city has finally landed in the hands of its citizens.

  • [research and text ] STEALTH.unlimited (Ana Džokić, Marc Neelen), Asja Hafner and Anja Bogojević
  • [conversation partners ] Stjepan Roš, Nebojša Jovanović, Faruk Šehić, Sabina Ćudić, Nejra Nuna Čengić, Amer Tikveša, Namik Kabil, Slobodan Anđelić, Saša Madacki, Suada Kapić, Adnan Harambašić, Zoran Ćatić, Nihad Čengić. We wish to thank them for thirteen insightful conversations and deliberations in and on Sarajevo – that form the base for this publication.
  • [“pickpad” addition, special contribution ] Nenad Veličković
  • [videos ] Ervin Prašljivić and Asja Hafner
  • [design and illustrations ] Enes Huseinčehajić
  • [photography ] Feka Jusović, February 2012
  • [transcript ] Ana Hafner
  • [proof reading ] Kenan Efendić
  • [translation ] Enes Zlatar
  • [publisher ] SCCA/
  • [print ] Amos Graf, Sarajevo – May 2013, 500 copies
  • [special thanks to ] Ervin Prašljivić, Aida Hajro Ines Latić and Dunja Blažević
  • [background ] Very normal, very normal is the fourth part of the Cities Log research series, initiated by STEALTH.inlimited and investigating the contemporary development of cities in the region of post-Yugoslavia and Albania. It takes place the project Individual Utopia Now and Then – Discontinuity of Generation Dialogue or What Do We Have in Common? The project Individual Utopia Now and Then has been supported by the Swiss Cultural Program in the Western Balkans, the Open Society Fund Bosnia and Herzegovina, the European Cultural Foundation and the ERSTE Stiftung.
  • [timeline ] February 2012 – May 2013