(The House Museum excavation, 2007)
A project by Katarina Šević and Tehnica Schweiz
In 2003, thirteen years after the fall of Yugoslavia, Serbian citizens were allowed for the first time to enter Croatian territory without a visa. Already in the first year, many took the opportunity to visit their abandoned properties and summer houses. Often the returnees met with the new owners who had taken possession of their former homes or the ruins of their houses. Serbian houses had often been destroyed by the joint efforts of the local communities and the army.
The Šević family’s summer house was built in 1971 in Žuljana, a small village on the Pelješac Peninsula. When we returned in 2003, we found that only the flat roof and the walls were standing. According to some neighbours the house had been temporarily occupied by soldiers, homeless and refugees.
In the past years we have spent a month each year restoring the building. Only the cleaning took us more than a week. During this we found various objects inside and around the house, some of which we kept. The objects are witnesses to the story of a house, and they become readable together. Therefore, we have decided to make an attempt to uncover the past of the house, and we have created the ‘house museum’. We excavated the terrain, and employing archaeological principles,archived the found objects in situ.
(A selection of objects from the museum)
We classified the objects into 3 categories:
1. xxxx – 1971.
The house, with the walls visible today, was built by Djordje Šević in 1971, on top of the ruins of a ca. 150 year old house. The objects in this category are those which we assume to originate from the times before the construction of the new house. Most of these we have uncovered from the soil while weeding.
2. 1971. -1990.
The new house was built on top of the ruin. The only standing wall of the ruin was built into the new building. This category contains objects which might have been used and owned by the Šević family, before the war.
This group is a collection of objects that have accumulated since the outbreak of the war. Unfortunately, we threw away most of these objects in the turmoil of the 1st cleaning. The few that have remained were made part of / incorporated into the museum collection.
(House Museum installation view, Budapest, 2007)