The Damned Dam


The year is 2027. Tarik is a young engineer. Merima is his beloved. They can save the townspeople of Lukavac if they broadcast the radio drama “Catastrophe” from the year 2000. Heroes and fairies, love and dystopia, rivers and lakes, dams and factories, B&H and EU, epic geography and oral tradition: between these a future romance is shaped.

In Lala Raščić’s project The Damned Dam the motif of the flood is embedded in the fictional narrative that is composed on the basis of field research and on specific locations and events in the Balkan region the artist undertook in spring/autumn 2010. The collected materials are processed as videos, paintings, audio recordings, a blog and performances that form the elements of this modular project. The narrative strategies that the artist employs in her work are informed by Bosnian traditions of oral literature. Based on the study of these traditional forms, the artist delivers a fantastical story set in the future intersected by socio-political concerns of the day.

The project The Damned Dam developed over a series of public presentations and exhibition-events centering around discursive  and performative programs that have taken place in Sarajevo, Belgrade and Banja Luka before being exhibited as an elaborate video installation and documentation exhibition in Zagreb, November 2010.

The process of research and development is mapped on the project’s blog:
(in Croatian/Bosnian)

In the year 2000 a group of progressive radio broadcasters aired a radio drama entitled Catastrophe on Radio Lukavac (Lukavac is a small industrial town in Bosnia and Herzegovina). The radio drama tells of the nearby dam breaking.
The broadcast had a profound effect, like that of Orson Wells’s War of the Worlds.

In 2008 I heard the story about the Catastrophe broadcast from my brother Arslan. The story instantly grabbed my attention and I started to research this event, thinking it was just an urban legend.

At that time I was in New Orleans and one day I popped into a used bookshop in the French Quarter where I found and interesting title: The Nature of Narrative. In this book I was for the first time confronted with the idea of the illiterate poet as performer; the singer of epic tales, romances, ballads. I found out about the research of Millman Parry and Albert B. Lord on Balkan oral traditions.

My storytelling is not direct continuation of this oral tradition, it is inspired by it. My artistic intention communicates with this tradition through the universal experience and empathy of all oral narration, transcending borders and generations. Having said that, my performance is something else, taking place in a different time, space –  and with a different purpose. L.R.

Produced / Organized by:
[blok], Zagreb,

Project partners:
DELVE, Zagreb,
KONTEKST, Beograd,
SCCA, Sarajevo,

Supported  by:
Ministry of Culture of Croatia