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The Stećak is one of the names used to denote the rich tradition of the Balkans stone monuments/tombstones. As cultural heritage, they belong primarily to the Bosnian and Hum's (today Herzegovina) Medievality. The Stećak has been recognised by UNESCO and listed on its world culture heritage list in 2016.

My doctoral research of the 'art of the Stećak' is a combined research-creative work that offers a new, enriching interpretation of the Stećak phenomenon from the sculptural and sociological angles. I find in Stećak an anachronistic knot of various sculptural contents and traditions - complexity and inspiration for enlivening and (re)interpretation of the tradition in the form of contemporary memorial sculpture and my personal artistic expression. Through the creative resurrection of the medieval tombstone i revive this extinguished tradition and adapt in within the context of our time, transforming the five hundred years of the Stećak’s discontinuity into Adiscontinuity of the Stećak.

Apart from focusing on the purely sculptural content of the medieval Stećak, i have researched its historic, political, and cultural relevance, With this approach, i have contributed towards a deeper understanding of the Stećak and its timeless sculpturality that has, in my interpretation, become, in the morphological and symbolic sense, a parallel to the Bosnian multi/intercultural identity.

My Thesis titled 'A Memorial for the Twenty-First Century: 'The Timelessness of the Bosnian Stećak and Its Relevance to Contemporary Visual Art' has been successfully examined by three independent Australian academics and the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD/Dr. Sci.) degree awarded to me at Queensland College of Art, Griffith University (Brisbane, Australia), an institution with a 135-year long tradition, the oldest of its kind in Australia.


Public Sculptures and Other Outputs/Results of Addis' Doctoral Research:

Memories in stone Exhibition

1. Sjećanja u kamenu / Memories in stone (Exhibition) - 2011, various materials, variety of sizes

This exhibition at the Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Canberra (Australia) was the first official presentation of the creative and practical results of my research of the Stećak. Among the variety of works, I exhibited these initial pieces and studies that led me to comprehensive research of the Stećak. At this occasion I also presented some of the research’s earliest creative results executed as drawings, small-scale models, and reliefs.

2. Illustration for the cover page of Places of Pain, 2012, charcoal on cardboard, 0.7m x 1m

Illustration for the cover page for book ‘Places of pain, Forced Displacement, Popular Memory and Trans-local Identities in Bosnian War-torn Communities’ by Hariz Halilovich, published by Berghahn Books in 2013. The illustration is inspired by the motif observed on some anthropomorphic cross-like Stećaks.

Mak Dizdar Museum

3. Concrete reliefs at Mak Dizdar Museum, (Kolo (concrete, 2m x 10m); Soul hunt (concrete, 2.3m x 5.5m);

Dreamer (concrete, 1.2m x 0.8m); Letters of Mak (concrete, 0.7m x 12m))


These monumental reliefs created at Mak Dizdar Museum in Stolac (Bosnia and Herzegovina) are directly corresponding to and reflective of the art of the Stećak. They are based on the usage of mediaeval ‘samples’ and motifs incorporated into my own contemporary re-conceptualised and imagined symbolical realm. Here I commenced my search for a ‘narrative’ that would, despite its strong mediaeval iconography, be closer to our contemporary ‘coded’ world than to the Stećak’s medievality.

Bosnian town of Pocitelj UNESCO Heritage Site

04. Čuvari / Sentinels, 2012, limestone, 3 x 1.7m x 0.4m x 0.3m

This Stećak triptych is permanently placed at the mediaeval Bosnian town of Počitelj (the UNESCO Heritage Site), as my first public sculpture created within this research opus, which revives the Stećak tradition. It is a memorial dedicated to time and eternity. This contemporary sculpture is a study of the traditional Stećak, visually fitting into the environment, and symbolically guarding this unspoiled mediaeval town. The ‘timeless’ role of my Stećak is emphasised by bridging of the prehistoric and contemporary sculpture aesthetics. I succeeded in opening ‘the truth and depth’ of these two seemingly opposed aspects within each other while establishing an ‘authentic community of existence’ (Campbell 2011), intercultural and interoppositional.

Letter of Mak Addis Elias Fejzic

05. Slovo Makovo/Letter of Mak, 2012, (bronze and wood, 0.35m x 0.25m x 0.20m)

This sculpture-award was, as an illusion of the Stećak, created in the shape of an open book and letter ‘M’, created in honour of the poet Mehmedalija Mak Dizdar, symbolising the close relationship of Dizdar’s poetry with the Stećak. The work is commissioned by Mak Dizdar Foundation Sarajevo and Sarajevo City Mayor Office (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and is now gifted as an annual poetry award.

contemporary Stecak

06. Fejzić B&Hierophany@terraAvstralis.MMXIII.Addis, 2013, sandstone, 2m x 1m x 1.2m

My contemporary Stecak, permanently placed in the Formal Gardens of Parliament House in Canberra (Australia), was unveiled on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Commonwealth of Australia. B&Hierophany@terraAvstralis.MMXIII.Addis symbolises the Bosnian presence in Australia, and Bosnian and Australian mutual multicultural values expressed within the Stecak's multisculpturalism. Being “one of the greatest diplomatic achievements of Bosnian art and culture since Bosnia and Herzegovina became an independent state” (Amina Džuvić, email to the author, 2013), this Stećak revives the tradition in the most official way. B&Hierophany@terraAvstralis.MMXIII.Addis is the first Stecak made on another continent, made in foreign stone, and presented as a gift to be placed in front of another country's Parliament House. The title of the sculpture is in an email address format, symbolising its role as a contemporary communication 'artefact', bridging spaces and centuries in its own way. The sculpture is a 'metaphysical' contemplative sanctuary where Bosnia and its multiculturalism can be unharmed. The 'Manifestation of the sacred' Bosnian multicultural essence is directly presented with the symbol constructed from David's star, the Cross, and the Crescent which I named Abraham's seal.

Forgotten & Unknown

7. Zaboravljeno & nepoznato / Forgotten & Unknown (Exhibition), 2014, various materials, variety of sizes

I was invited to participate in an exhibition at the ‘European Union Info Center Sarajevo’ (Bosnia and Herzegovina) in 2014. The Selection Committee, impressed by my work and doctoral research at QCA, considered me as a “perfectly corresponding with [their] aim to promote the communication between Bosnia and Herzegovina, Europe and the world through culture” (Edin Atlić, personal correspondence with the author, September 2014).

The exhibited works (drawings, prints, reliefs, miniatures glass engravings) combine figurative and symbolical motifs with Shakespeare’s, Goethe’s, Dizdar’s, and traditional verses transliterated into the Bosnian mediaeval Cyrillic alphabet.

My focus was to further explore the use this alphabet traditionally used for the inscriptions on the Stećak, later transformed and known as Bosančica, but today out of use. The Cyrillic Alphabet was named after Cyril who, with his brother Methodius (both Christian Saints), invented the Glagolitic alphabet in the ninth century primarily in order to be able to write in Slavic languages. Cyril’s and Method’s disciples later upstaged the Glagolitic alphabet by a new set of letters: a predecessor of the late mediaeval and modern Cyrillic alphabet(s). Glagolitic and Cyrillic alphabets facilitated the introduction of Christianity to Slavic people. The Cyrillic alphabet was based on the Greek alphabet, with inclusion of additional letters for the Slavic language phonetics that did not exist in Greek (Curta 2006; Fine 1991; Sedlar 2011).

Between the fifteenth and the nineteenth century, under the influences of the Latin and Arabic alphabets, already diverse mediaeval Bosnian version of the Cyrillic alphabet developed a variety of regional characteristics and decadent forms of letters (Kardaš 2015, Nakaš, 2010; Fine 2009, 508; Truhelka 1889, 1891).

With the Stećci, I have creatively revived the usage of this mediaeval Bosnian alphabet. The evolution of its original graphemes inspired me to introduce additional signs and modifications in order to achieve correct transliteration of different languages. For example, an English verse spelled originally, but at the same time inscribed in the Bosnian epigraphic Cyrillic alphabet, becomes a metaphor for being caught in-between ‘the forgotten and the unknown’—which is also a metaphor for being Bosnian today.

Trn srca pjesnikova Poet’s heart thorn

8. Trn srca pjesnikova / Poet’s heart thorn, 2014, marble, 1.65m x 0.45m x 0.35m)

Named Poet’s heart thorn, this contemporary Stećak, permanently placed in the garden of Mak Dizdar Museum (Bosnia and Herzegovina), honours the famous Bosnian poet Mehmedalija Mak Dizdar and his intimate relation with the art of Stećak, also reflecting what we share in our common search for our own artistic expression based on the Stećak and in relation to (re)defining of our Bosnian identity (Dizdar, 1999; Buturović, 2002).

Isa Bey Stone Srajevo Adis Elias Fejzic

9. Isa Bey Stone I and II - Isa Bey Stone I, 2014, marble, 0.6m x 0.4m x 0.35m

These sculpture awards are named after Isa Bey Ishaković (founder of the city of Sarajevo), and are awarded to the prominent scientists, artists, cultural/political activists, and foreign statesmen. Isa Bey Stone I was posthumously awarded to Alija Izetbegović the first president of independent Bosnia and Herzegovina, and it is permanently exhibited in the Alija Izetbegović Museum in Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina). The second sculpture from this series, Isa Bey Stone II was awarded to Kolinda Grabar Kitarović, president of Croatia (Figure 37b), now placed in the Office of the President of the Republic in Zagreb (Croatia). Similarly conceptualised, and executed, both pieces represent the multidimensional Bosnian cultural history. I drew my inspiration from the Stećak in combination with characteristic elements of the sepulchral art of the Ottoman period in Bosnia, and these sculptures are directly related to my doctoral research.

Isa Bey Stone II, 2015, marble, 0.4m x 0.5m x 0.3m

10. Mak, 2014, marble, 0.45m x 0.3m x 0.3m

The portrait of Mak Dizdar is permanently exhibited in Mak Dizdar Museum in Stolac (Bosnia and Herzegovina). Dizdar wrote poetry that enlivens the mediaeval thoughts and verses found on the Stećak as his own contemporary poetry of the twentieth century, which is exactly what I am doing with the Stećak as a sculpture.

Wi-Fi Architrave

11. Wi-Fi Architrave, 2015, marble, 2 x (2m x 0.5m x 0.7m)

Wi-Fi Architrave is a Stećak diptych permanently placed in front of Federal Ministry of Culture and Sport in Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina). This communicates my need for a better understanding of Bosnian history and the establishment of a dialogue between Bosnia’s present and past to envision a better future. The composition consists of two Stećci executed as two smart stones (resembling two smart phones), and positioned as two columns. The ‘invisible’ third part, a Wi-Fi architrave connects them. A range of relief motifs are conceptualised as a combination of Stone Age and Mediaeval carving synchronised with the language and iconography of modern communication. This metaphor is emphasised by the cyphered inscriptions of the verses by Shakespeare, Goethe, and Dizdar transliterated in the Bosnian Cyrillic alphabet.

Ars Memoriae Exhibition

12. Ars Memoriae - Shadow of the heaven e Exhibition, Srebrenica, 2015

The exhibition at the Potočari Memorial Center, Srebrenica (Bosnia and Herzegovina), 11 July 2015, on the twentieth anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide, the worst crime in Europe since World War II. The exhibition was realised as part of the International Conference “Srebrenica 1995-2015: Evaluation of Legacy and Long-Term Consequences of the Genocide”. Based on the sociological concept of the “ripple effect” (Long 2001), the inaugural Exhibition is planned to be held annually, providing a deeper cultivation of the memory and broadening its significance and global impact. I considered both the artistic creativity and the observers’ critical reflexivity based on the present-day ethnographic research method developed in an “attempt to come to grips with the predicaments and struggles—theoretical and practical – of contemporary social life” (Arce and Long 2005, 8). The art works I created on this occasion were composed of three original works/series created in different materials and all related to my doctoral research:

Shadow of the heaven , a ‘sculptural constellation’ featuring monumental sculptures, and al-fatiha@ba.rock and copernicus@ba.rock both permanently exhibited at the Bosniak Institute, Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Adis Elias Fejzić al-fatiha@ba.rock, 2015, ‘artificial stone’, 2m x 1m x 0.6m;

and copernicus@ba.rock, 2015, ‘artificial stone’, 2m x 1m x 0.6m

13. Bosnian Triumphal Gate I and II

Bosnian Triumphal Gate I (Brisbane version), 2013, artificial stone, 2.5m x 2.5m x 0.6m

Bosnian Triumphal Gate (Brisbane version) is monumental work created for Down the Rabbit Hole, a visual art research collaborative project between the Queensland College of Art (QCA), Griffith University, and the University of Southern Queensland, and was co-curated by Beata Batorowicz and Sebastian Di Mauro. This sculpture, at the symbolic level, represents the complexity of Bosnian history, its syncretic format and content. It also conveys my personal view on historical triumphal gates.

Bosnian Triumphal Gate II (Prague version), 2015, 2.5m x 2.0m x 0.6m


Bosnian Triumphal Gate (Prague version) created for the 9th International Festival Architecture Week Prague 2015 (17 August – 18 October 2015) (http://www.architectureweek.cz). I was invited to exhibit the contemporary work from my doctoral opus (along with the presentation of the traditional art of Stećak) by the organisers and the Prague Embassies of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia to represent these countries. As the only contemporary artist invited to complement the presentation of the traditional Stećak, I see this as a significant international recognition of my doctoral research. This Gate is part of the series of doctoral works.

This sculpture at the symbolic level represents the complexity of the Bosnian history, its syncretic format and content. The meaning of ‘triumph’ in Bosnia has not been experienced by anyone throughout Bosnian history, and no one can claim that they have triumphed over anyone else, which is probably one of the important reasons why no one has ever been in a situation to erect a ‘real’ Bosnian Triumphal Gate. Up until the moment when I personally invented the Bosnian Triumphal Gate, it never existed; not as an idea/term/phrase, not as a form, not as a sculpture. A triumphant gate of any kind has not been documented in the known Bosnian historical sources, among documents and artefacts, nor in our rich narrative tradition. In this context, my Bosnian Triumphal Gate, through which there is no passage, is a novel invention and is also the most-Bosnian with all its attributes, namely it is the most suitable representation of the so-called ‘triumph’ in Bosnia. This tragic-comic sculptural undertaking is not just an adequate metaphor of Bosnia and Herzegovina itself, but also an opportunity to send a realistic and deeply humanistic message from Bosnia to the world. This message can directly and tragi-comically, in a lyric-satiric manner, attempt to deconstruct the concept and context of many existing triumphal gates that are, more or less, erected in the context of the celebration of ‘some’ because of the spilled blood of the ‘others’.

My Bosnian Triumphal Gate is also a part of the opus that I am creating as a ‘logical, contemporary’ continuation of the Bosnian tradition of the Stećak. The rich and complex qualities of Bosnia, her multicultural, multi-religious, and even multi-mythical content in this sculpture are represented through the ornamentation—knotted up in itself, preventing the passage through the portal, appearing simultaneously as a delicate filigree as well as a frightening snake-knot. The narrow, vertical crack, empty space between the two monoliths, between two Stećci, enables a limited view from one to the other ‘triumphal side’, but this only deepens the ‘tragedy’, since this crack-passageway cannot be passed through. However, the crack still enables a view through it, over to the other side, which can bring hope that the knot can be cut through. Or, if nothing else, as in all good Bosnian jokes, one can reach over to the other side by simply walking around the sculpture’s blocks (not through them), denying any triumph or pomp. With its symbolic and (non)historic implications, my Bosnian Triumphal Gate is, absurdly, completely ‘open’ for the ‘reading’ of Bosnia. This sculpture communicates a universal dimension of the human existence. The Bosnian Triumphal Gate, with its universal messages, connects the Stećak’s cultural heritage of our multicultural medieval past (our forgotten memory) with today's unfortunate, almost destroyed, multicultural Bosnia, along with much hope for a better future.

Lost in (Re)Collection (collaboration with Maja Matašin) was an installation and bricolage series of eleven pieces in various sizes.

The layout of elements is reminiscent of coffins, wooden caskets for another life. They are made up of various symbols of the souls and life.

The brokenness of the items and their rough construction point to the anxiety of the process of finding the bones of those missing and killed. This search is not just physical; it is also search for memories, which are inherently elusive. It is also a search for the survivors’ own identities, for that part which is no longer physically present but emotionally still there.

bricolage series

Lost in (Re)Collection, 2015, mixed media, various materials, variety of sizes

Traces of pain (collaboration with Goran Lizdek) – computer print series (series of eleven in various sizes);

visualisation of the Srebrenica tragedy through metaphor of loss and the pain of the surviving mothers, wives, sisters, daughters.

Traces of Pain digital print

Traces of Pain, 2015, digital print, variety of sizes


Both series (Lost in (Re)Collection and Traces of Pain)are inspired by symbolical and figural motifs from mediaeval Stećak transformed into ‘unexpected’ media.

14. Exhibition A(dis)Continuity of the Art of the Stecak

My final research exhibition was held at the Webb Gallery, QCA, in mid-October 2016. Apart from a video presentation of all of my previous creative research outputs, the exhibition was mainly focused on a series of new ‘artificial stone’ sculptures that will not have been exhibited before. Corresponding to my thesis, these new pieces are conceptualised within this final exhibition to present the essence of the practical aspect of my PhD research dedicated to the art of the Stećak. 

These works are individual sculptures with individual meanings; however, they were presented as one, as a constellation of complementing forms and meanings to conclude this phase of my research and (re)interpretation of the art of Stećak. Therefore, it was important to revealed them as a composition in one unified exhibition space.

Exhibition Adis Continuity of the Art of the Stecak








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