skip to Main Content


Smoking Gun, 2008. Installation: soundproof room, pedestal, vase and synthetic civet musk. 619 cm x 726 cm.  

Harvest, 2008. Two-screen video, produced in collaboration with Vladimir Tomić.

Smoking Gun is an installation designed as a soundproof room that visitors are invited to enter. On a pedestal inside the room, there is a vase with a strong odour of  synthetic civet musk, which is used sparingly in perfumery, but when used in concentrated form it emits an aggressive unpleasant smell that resembles the odour of decomposing bodies. The smell is accompanied by a powerful sensation of silence in the purpose developed soundproof room that blocks the noise from the outside as well as absorbing sounds within the room.

Both the smell and the silence refer to the experience of death and loss, which the artist witnessed in relation to the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the period between 2002 and 2007 Cirkinagic conducted a series of interviews with individuals who witnessed mass executions or who were imprisoned in concentration camps. Listening to their testimonies, he discovered that many witnesses shared a similar experience of unbearable silence. This phenomenon of sudden absence of sound caused by one’s hearing being unexpectedly disabled, appears when a person is in a state of shock. The blocking of certain senses is an instinctive defence against mental strain or physical stress in extremely traumatic situations. With Smoking Gun the artist creates a soundproof space with the purpose of imitating the ubiquitous and almost physical silence the witnesses of war crimes have experienced. When stepping inside the artwork, visitors can, to a limited extent of course, get a feeling of this inconceivable state of shock.

For the catalogue of the exhibition Smoking Gun (2008), the senior curator Dorthe Rugaard wrote: “Maybe it’s precisely this dimly lit, soundless room with a passage to the world outside that Čirkinagić wants to put us in for a while. At least that’s what he is literally doing in the exhibition’s sound absorbing room – an installation cleared of representations and motifs. He hints at the idea of a minimalistic sculpture where the work is reduced to a spatial and structural object devoid of a representative, symbolic, emotional or story-telling content so that we only have our own bodily reactions to the concept to cling to.  But he uses this technique to draw attention towards our own presence and sensory system in an attempt to specifically activate the story-telling potential of the room and pass the war and his personal experiences to us.”

The installation Smoking Gun was exhibited together with the video Harvest. This video was devised in collaboration with video artist Vladimir Tomić and is based on a reconstructed version of a story they heard during their artistic research in Northwest Bosnia and Herzegovina. The story is about a boy who mows the field that once was a mass grave. He regularly harvests the grass that sprouts from the grave. This is symbolic confrontation between the boy and the dark past of his homeland, mixed with the omnipresent sense of transience of life. The video is recorded on the original location with the actual boy from the story. “In the light from the setting sun, the young man is seen standing on the exact spot of the grave. He is harvesting the grass that with a morbid irony grows especially vigorously right there.” as  the senior curator Dorthe Rugaard expressed it in the catalogue for the exhibition Smoking Gun (2008).

Back To Top