What originally began as a rather vague idea has evolved into a bold endeavor. In the middle of the mountainous landscape of central Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the municipality of Vareš, lies the remote village of Mijakovići. This quiet place near the historical remains of Bobovac is where the Artist in Residence Programme Zvjezdane staze’s journey begins.

My trip to Bobovac in 2019 was, one might say, guided by the invisible hand of fate. After spending hours looking at the ruins, I got hungry. The only possibility to get something to eat was in the nearby village, which was indicated by a sign in the vicinity of the fortress, pointing to the Ibrišimović Agricultural Household. 

Once there, I was greeted by a signpost for a hiking trail on Mountain Zvijezda (Mount Star) called Zvjezdane staze (Star Trek). Soon I discovered that Zvjezdane staze consists of a whole network of hiking trails that wound through the village and ascend to the highest peak of Mount Perun, Karaosovina (in South Slavic mythology, Perun is the highest god of the pantheon and the god of sky, thunder, lightning, storms […] and oak trees).

There were no elaborate plans or grand visions when I decided to buy an old Bosnian house in the Middle of Nowhere. Just a strange feeling of the uniqueness of this place.

Back in Vienna, I started fantasizing about a retreat where one could spend time with family and (artist) friends, contemplating. The Covid-19 pandemic put paid to those ideas, and I even began to think that I might never get there again.

A few years later, I got to know Andrea Nikolić, the artistic director of VaClaF: Vareš Classic Festival.

Now, as we approach our inaugural event in July 2024, I am stunned by the journey we have taken so far. All of this would be impossible without the incredible support, hospitality and kindness of the people of Mijakovići, who have been with us every step of the way.

Our goal is simple: to create a space where artists come together to reflect, create, collaborate.

At the heart of our initiative is a commitment to innovation and cooperation. AiR Zvjezdane staze wants to be more than just an Artist in Residence Programme – we hope to become an Incubator of Ideas, a melting pot where imagination and excellence merge. 

We are aware of the obstacles that lie ahead. There are no guarantees and no assurances – only the very potential of what could be. 

Driven by a shared vision and an unwavering belief in the transformational power of art,

Belma Bešlić-Gál 

[Founder & Artistic Director]

Vienna, April 30, 2024