Bust of academician Vojo Dimitrijević as a “skeleton from the closet” for the Sarajevo City Administration


During Skaka’s time, the city authorities paid money to the artist Alma Suljević for the bust of the great Vojo Dimrijević. However, nothing has happened for three and a half years

Written by: Rubina Čengić

Although it was supposed to be on the pedestal in front of the Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo until November 25, 2018, the bust of academician Vojo Dimitrijević is still not there.

The former mayor of Sarajevo, Abdulah Skaka, signed a contract with Alma Suljević in 2018, and the city paid her 9,900 KM for the job. However, today Suljević says in regards to everything: “Simply, it just happened”.

The Mayor of the City of Sarajevo, Benjamina Londrc Karić, says that she did not know anything about this contract until the journalist’s inquiry and that for her this is a skeleton from the closet.

– We only found out about that contract based on a press letter. It is strange that it did not go to the public procurement procedure, and even more strange that all the money was paid in advance, but now we are where we are. The ombudsman wrote to Ms Suljević and if she does not speak up on this issue – we will go to court and ask for a refund, and I will initiate an urgent procedure before the City Council to create a bust – says Londrc Karić.

 A new deadline is awaited

Suljević, on the other hand, says that he is in negotiations with the City Administration and that he expects a new deadline for the creation of the bust.

– I made the mould then, in 2018. Voje Dimitrijević’s son, Braco Dimitrijević accepted it, we transferred everything to Enes Sivac’s foundry, but then the coronavirus came, and later I got sick. The foundry of Enes Sivac was robbed, his device worth 13,000 KM and all the tools were taken, the moulds were broken, later he also fell ill…. I’m afraid we’ll have to start all over again because I changed the concept of that work, and we no longer have moulds, busts, or casts. I am afraid that we will have to work outside BiH because there is no reliable foundry here, so it will most likely be in Novi Sad, where Stijepo Gavrić also worked – says Suljević.

On the remark that the corona pandemic started in 2019 and 2020, and that the deadline was November 2018, Suljević says that it simply happened that way.

But let’s start from the beginning.

In November 2017, Suljević sent the City of Sarajevo Administration a Proposal for making, casting and setting up a portrait of Vojo Dimitrijević and returning the cast of the feet to the place in front of the Museum of the Assassination on June 28, 1914.

In the letter, it is written that academician Braco Dimitrijević, otherwise, Voja’s son, asked her to be the author of a portrait of his father, academician Voja Dimitrijević, and that the feet on the spot from which Gavrilo Princip shot Prince Ferdinand are the first among works of conceptual art in BiH, and that she has the original casting of the mold…

In July 2018, Deputy Mayor Milan Trivić wrote to the Legal Service of the City Administration and requested that a contract be made with Alma Suljević, that the then Mayor Skak approved the request and that the total price was 9,900 KM, and that the City Administration also accepted it.

The contract between Alma Suljević and the mayor of Skaka was signed on August 31 in 2018. It stipulates that the bust will be installed by November 25, 2018, Statehood Day of BiH. It is also foreseen that Suljević will be the exclusive holder of the copyright.

By the same contract, the City Service for Education, Culture, Sports and Youth is in charge of monitoring its implementation. The payment of the total amount plus tax (11,450.70 KM) was made on September 30, 2018, but the work has not yet been handed over to the city administration.

First mistake

Trivić believes that everyone in the city administration could have known about this case and that it is a shame that the bust is not finished yet.

– Braco Dimitrijević recommended Alma Suljević to us, and my first mistake was that I entered the process like that, but I simply thought that there was no point in doing it without the family. At the beginning, I had full confidence in Mrs Suljević, but towards the end, everything kind of dragged on. At one point, Enes Sivac came and claimed that he had not received money for his part of the work, later he came again and asked the mayor to hire his daughter, and then Alma Suljević somehow disappeared. I personally called countless times, asked if more time was needed, if anything else was needed… Everything remained unanswered. Towards the end of the mandate, I started the procedure to terminate that contract because Mrs Suljević proved to be very irresponsible, and when I was leaving the City Administration, I explained to the deputy mayor what it was all about, because ultimately the budget was damaged – says Trivić.

He recalls that a similar work was done for the bust of Isak Samokovlija in cooperation with the Jewish Municipality.

– This was done by Mr Stjepo Gavrić, he chose the foundry in Novi Sad because, as far as I remember, the price was more favourable for him, and everything was completed on time as we agreed and without any problems – says Trivić.

The City Service for Education, Culture, Sports and Youth says that they have only been formally included in the contract and that they have nothing to do with it.

Studio robbery

Sivac says that it is his fault, that it is his responsibility and that he will do everything again – he has a picture of Voja Dimitrijević and that he needs from a month to a month and a half to do it.

– The bust was made at the Academy, and then we brought it to my studio in the foundry in Vogošća. I received the money for the material, Alma paid the assistants at the Academy who worked on it, we made a mould in wax, then in fireclay and we were supposed to cast the bronze that I had bought earlier, but then my studio was robbed, they took all the tools, they broke the moulds because, I guess, they thought there was bronze inside, they also took away the bronze I bought earlier and now I have nothing left. The damage from that robbery is 15,000 KM, and in the meantime, I lost my job at the Academy and we live on my wife’s salary from education – says Sivac.

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