On Saturday we had the pleasure being able to visit the infamous and mysterious ARK D0, aka Tito’s Bunker.
A relic of the Cold War, the bunker was commissioned in 1953 as a way for the late-Josip Broz Tito and his high command to escape the horrors of a potential atomic war. The bunker lies underneath a stone mountain out side of the city of Konic and at its completion it was stocked to keep 350 people alive for 6 months. The bunker took 23 years and over $4.6billion USD to complete, only for Tito to pass away one year after it’s completion date in 1979. The bunker remained a tightly held secret until the break up of the Yugoslavia in 1992. After being utilized briefly during the Bosnian War in the 1990s, the bunker remained unused until 2011 when then bunker was used to host a biennale of contemporary art. 2015 marks the 3rd biennale exhibit to be hosted by the bunker. Artists utilize the bunker to showcase art installations that draws on themes of the cold war, the atomic era, militarism, major social issues in the Balkans, Tito, and the bunker itself.
As lover of contemporary art and an individual fascinated by the cold war mentality, when the opportunity to see the bunker came up, I couldn’t say no. It was apparently a process to find a time to go, arrange transportation that knew how to get to the bunker, and to find a guide for the bunker, but we got there somehow.
The entrance to the bunker is a simple garage door to a house on a windy mountain road. Once you’re in the bunker, one is immediately struck by the size of the complex. Furthermore walking through the bunker and seeing the level of planning preparation that went into the potential action place for bunker allows the fears of the era become very real. As someone born in 1991 as the Cold War finally fizzled out, the fervor, terror, and panic of the atomic age was always more a of a collective joke or a far off time my generation could not relate to despite my parents having lived through it all.
The contemporary art exhibit was also exquisite. I loved to see how so many artists not only choose to work with the space, but embrace the space of the bunker. Even the most surreal of exhibits felt natural in their spaces, that this was where they belonged, that what lay the bunker was a manifestation of all of imaginations, and we happened to walk into this dream world by chance.
All in all, it’s one of coolest things I’ve done or seen on any of travels throughout the world and still am in awe I got the chance to go.