KAMEN is located in a quiet rural area of Orah, a village that is home to just a few families and a 14th century Orthodox monastery. The residency building overlooks Bileća lake, which was artificially formed in 1968. When the lake was constructed to provide hydroelectric power to the region, five whole villages were flooded and even the remains of a Roman villa complete with floor mosaics. In the summertime, when the water level drastically lowers, these ruins appear. And it becomes possible to strolling through the remains. Two small islands in the center of the lake can then be reached on foot.
At KAMEN, in our day-to-day, we live with what the seasons bring us. Not only is for instance the water-level a marker of the seasonal changes – also in terms of what grows in our garden and the cultural responses to the seasons, do we allow the time of the year to guide us.
In the region there are impressive ancient sites, overlapping historical remnants from different historical ages, dam projects, a few small towns, cultural ceremonies, mountains, caves, sinkholes, and underground rivers to explore.
At KAMEN, we foster a communal ecology that is intimately connected to life in the region. The residency is focused on creating self-sustaining and regenerative circumstances, for both the community and the landscape as a whole. We for instance have a grey-water system installed from which we water our gardens. Our fruit orchard and vegetable garden bear an abundance of produce, from which we love to make compotes and liquors, and eat most of our daily meals. Aside from what we grow, nearly all other food that we consume is purchased locally.
Orah, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Google Maps coordinates 42.815860, 18.417979
KAMEN assists residents in making meaningful connections and engaging in collaborations with local constituencies, as appropriate to each artist’s particular interests. KAMEN has been forming partnerships with a range of local cultural institutions, art associations and projects.
At this point we have several partners in Trebinje, the nearest city, just 15 km away from the residency. Gallery KC, the city’s Cultural Centre, houses multiple floors of gallery spaces, a theatre stage and a cinema, that the residents are invited to utilize for a possible final presentation. Also, the Museum of Herzegovina, with its team of anthropologists, ethnologists and archeologists, offers resources and collaborations. At the Academy of Fine Arts, residents can propose workshops or projects for students to engage with. KAMEN facilitates residents in these partnerships. However, we are not an outcome-oriented residency program.
We also work with the Devon Karst Research Society, in support of their “Proteus Project in the Trebišnjica River Basin“. Together with international environmental scientists, biologists, speleologists and volunteers, the Devon Karst Research Society has been collecting data on the region’s underground cave structures, water springs and fauna species for over twenty years. The region’s iconic karst geology, marked by its water-soluble lime stone and underground rivers, has been rigorously mapped by this group of passionate researchers.
Our circle of partners also includes several smaller associations that practice traditional crafts (weaving, crochet, embroidery, manufacturing musical instruments and icon painting), singing and dancing. Farmers, fishermen and beekeepers are our closest neighbors.
Residents are encouraged to engage or collaborate with these local communities, organizations, ecosystems and what they offer, in whichever way is pertinent to their project.