BiH Artists Talking 7: Nebojša Savija-Valha and Ognen Savija (Ambrosia Group)
The SCB interviews section is being re-booted this autumn with three or four interviews of contemporary artists working in BiH already planned. We were delighted to be able to catch up with Nebojša and Tašo from Ambrosia this week. Here is what they had to say:
SCB: Tell us something about your background in art, and your position in the art world.
NSV: I suppose strictly we are not considered artists here, as none of us have a background in the Academy. We are not considered artists because none of us have a certificate saying we are artists. We have no formal education in art. I suppose I have a background in a certain type of craftsmanship, through my work as a trained aircraft engineer. I have a second degree in philosophy and sociology, which i suppose gives me some insight into anthropological methods and the interpretation of cultural products, but these are all loose connections. I had two years musical tuition with one of our more famous musicians- Mile Praljak- and my brother trained for six years with him. Elvir, another of our active members, sees himself as a “quasi” artist, without formal education in the arts. We don’t really fit very well into a society where art has become commodified. We certainly cannot live from our art in a commercial sense. In a sense we are true amateurs- we do our art purely out of feelings of love for art itself.
SCB: Yet, no reasonable person could describe your work as being “amateur” in nature. In most other cities a lack of academic training can be seen as an advantage in building a career. Does it really matter, this lack of validation from the Academy?
NSV: I suppose art in this country is governed by a tight set of power relations. Everyone must be in some relationship with the Academy, or perhaps be recognised as a strong traditional craftsman- a member of a “Trade Union of the Arts”. We don’t belong to either category, but have always been part of a small avant garde here.
SCB: Tell us a little bit about your artistic life before the formation of Ambrosia
NSV: I suppose for me that music was the key, and to a lesser extent writing poetry. I was born in 1964 and so therefore was of the punk generation. In my early teenage years, when punk started, I heard it and was into it straightaway. This would be around 1975, and the bands were the usual suspects from the British and New York punk scenes.
I completed military secondary school and the Air Force academy- which at the time was one of the most elite academies in former Yugoslavia. Punk was strongly frowned upon in this environment, and only myself and one other guy from Zenica admitted to being punks. I remember a speech from the Academy’s rector in which he made a point of saying “we are not listening to punk here”. Later, my military career took me to Mostar, Zagreb, and so on, and I ended up as an aircraft engineer. I spent eight years and the academy and then a further eight years in the Bosnian army. I also completed a Masters degree in Philosophy.
SCB: so, how did the Ambrosia project emerge and how did it develop?
NSV: Ambrosia was founded in 1994, although the actual registration paperwork wasn’t completed until February of the following year. The group activity was triggered by an even that Tašo and I created during the war. Ognjen had a Gothic rock band called Invisible Fields, and we had been making music since before the war. For Sarajevska Zima in 1994, we produced a multi-media event called “Twilight Whisper”, including experimental music and visuals. A punk friend was doing remarkable visuals with letraset on a projection, like live poetry, which had been jointly written by my friend, my brother and myself. Our music was ambient, with the flavour of jazz; I suppose this was the earliest hint of our present band, Limnalit. We experimented with acoustic effects, and with music based on delay and reverb, improvising on stage.
A friend of Tašo’s, who was acting, and also editing Vibro fanzine, dedicated to alternative culture, came to talk to us about the establishment of a new type of arts organisation, dedicated not only to art production but also to the creation of a new arts scene. These discussions continued over the summer, and we began producing documentation- things like manifesto, areas of interest and departments for those, and so on. By the end of 1994, we had formed a core group of 7 people who would register our new organisation as a Citizens’ Association. Mirsad Dedić gave us the name “Ambrosia”. In part, it was a bitterly ironic name, given the circumstances all around us when we formed. But it also has the positive connotations of cultural being immortal, something that grows inexorably and transcends mortality. We were always a multi-disciplinary group, and we had formed departments within Ambrosia for different activities.
SCB: Was the model here NSK?
NSV: Absolutely, NSK were our main model. We adopted their totalitarian approach to creating new work, to creating new things that form your own universe. Our organisation was tough; we not only had separate departments, we also set down how these departments were to work, and their parameters of inquiry. I suppose my military background contributed a lot to how our departments were organised.
We had a department for the “Pathology of Text”, consisting of myself, Elvir and Igor; this department was to produce our written material. Other departments were “Theatre in becoming”, for theatrical expression, departments for music, and visual art. All these departments attracted new members to Ambrosia, and at our peak in 1997/98, we had over thirty active members. One of them was Adela Jušić; her first performances were with Ambrosia in 1996. She was still in elementary school when she performed with us.
Space was crucial for a group like ours and back in 1996, we used the ruins of Dom Mladih for our performances. Before it was renovated, there were a whole series of wall paintings done by Ambrosia, but also by some Dutch artists who had come to visit the city for a festival. Back then, festivals were much easier to organise. We organised festivals for ourselves, other artists from the city and region, and we did not need serious money to do this. We were supported particularly in those years by the George Soros foundation, and by US Aid. In 1996/97, with the city coming tremendously alive after the experience of the war, people were willing to give to artists- if not money, then free spaces, or sponsorship in kind in the form of materials. Some of our fans working in companies also helped us back then.
SCB: The cultural scene that you are describing sounds near-utopian by comparison with today. When did things in Sarajevo begin to change, in your opinion?
OS: hmm, I think around ’98.
NSV: You have to realise that structures began to re-assert themselves around 1998. By the turn of the century, everything had changed for good. (Laughing) Everything was great here until the artists began to come back. During the war and immediately after, the capacity to create an alternative scene was unimaginably different. The people active here during the war came from the alternative scene. When official artists started to come back, new structures re-emerged with new power relations, and there was less space for alternative work.
This goes together with the re-allocation of cultural funds from production to networking. We are really thankful to Soros for everything they helped us with, for 6 years,. Pro Helvetia also supported artists to produce their work. Unfortunately, their priorities began to move in a different direction. Some bodies withdrew, others began to go in a totally different direction; to support networking and career-building, rather than production. With networking, you are talking about serious money, and with that money comes technocracy and bureaucracy. We had to decide whether to adapt to these changes, as an organisation.
SCB: Some artists have used the forms and absurdities of bureaucracy as artwork; did you consider going in that direction?
NSV: I know, I know how to do applications, but none of us are good salesmen. or interested in that side of things. Instead, we started to lose members in the first decade of the new century, everyone wanted to become a professional artist, but no one really wanted to do the logistical work that goes with being a professional artist. We started to become a smaller and smaller organisation, to the point today where only 5 people are currently active with us.
At the time, we had long and heated discussions on this topic. At one moment in 2001, we formed a new creative coalition called GUMA- a citizen’s space for multi-cultural artists, consisting of Ambrosia, The Nansen Dialogue Centre, and Album Association. Ambrosia initiated a cultural magazine called Album. We published the first number, then found that we didn’t have the administrative capacity or time to follow through; we passed the magazine on to friends, to continue, and they established an Association, Album.
We had a fund of several thousand KM for inter cultural, inter ethnic things; performances, shows, magazines, lectures. This type of work started pushing us into an NGO type of thinking; this was a turning point for us. The question was, will we become a cultural NGO, or we will be artists? The outcome of this dialogue was that we didn’t want to sacrifice artwork for cultural management. We were sick of having endless meetings whilst not producing anything. It was a critical moment in the history of Ambrosia. We were down to fewer than ten members, and we decided that we had to concentrate on making art and being artists. The pressures of managing a lot of things at a high level very much shaped this decision. We were disappointed in our results in trying to develop a cultural scene here.
SCB: There have been criticisms of the scene here, in terms of what some identify as selfishness, short-sightedness, or narrow-mindedness. Was that part of the reason you were disappointed?
NSV: Well, we did try. We had a little money from the Council of Europe and worked on the possibility to try and establish an independent cultural centre for all artists, and cultural activists, in the city. We had Metelkova in Ljubljana as a model. However, we were unable to recruit enough people to develop a critical mass to try and move this vision forward. We were unable to recruit enough people to create a critical mass to push a little bit harder. We were also unable to get enough support from any sector of society; and, consequently, we found closed doors at institutional level. Our idea was stuck in a game of ping pong between city, municipalities, kantons, universities, and so on. In one meeting, we were offered Dom Mladih for the sum of 9 million Deutschmarks- yet, how on earth could anyone here find that kind of money? the city were happy to sell for that sum however, back then.
It was a strange time. We had quite a lot of international support, and we were very well networked in European cultural scenes, through Metelkova and also in Austria, Germany and Holland. We had plans to organise and maintain a very high level of local and international activity at our centre, but unfortunately we didn’t have sufficient support here to maintain legitimacy, or to steer us through the institutional obstacles in our path. I can see that today, both Čarlama and duplex face parallel problems. They are marginalised in terms of the official artworld, even although many of the important artists in the region and from across Europe have had shows or performances there. The contemporary withdrawal of support from the international community, and the rise in neo-liberalism, aggravate these difficulties. Here the problems go much deeper than whatever the cultural circumstances of the day might happen to be.
SCB: How would you characterise the change in audiences for culture in Sarajevo, from when you first started out in the 1990s, to today?
NSV: Hmm, that’s a tricky question to answer. When we started very few people followed our events. Back then the vast majority of things were free. Look, there was this place called Stella, opposite Dom Mladih, which was a small cafe bar run by one of our members. It had a small stage, PA, lights, and so he ran a concert or performance or show on a weekly basis. Our performances started with five people listening to weird music, to ending up with a crowd of 200 in the cafe bar with a further hundred people waiting outside, who could not get in. We did a performance in there involving the preparation of sauerkraut, that was watched by over 200 people- that would simply be impossible in Sarajevo now. A similar crowd watched another performance where we were making these kitsch needlepoint canvases, as a means of mocking this type of “artform”. At that time even performances which weren’t actually of all that much interest to a wider audience, were completely sold out. When Stella closed, these events stopped, and who knows where the audiences went.
Tpday, Pierre is ding a very good job of trying to kick start the new contemporary art scene, but I am not sure how many of his audience aren’t artists or art professionals- I really don’t know how many people not involved in art in any way go there. The more mainstream audiences certainly go the jazz festival which three of us were in on, from the beginning.
Edo (jazz festival director) knows about arts management and the commercial side of things, In the beginning of that festival crowds were also around 200, now many are completely sold out well in advance, even for more experimental concerts. I am sure that I know everyone in the city that has an insight into the musical scene…. they alone could not sustain that festival, so there has been a progression, certainly in its commercial viability. However, my experience tells me that we are missing a permanent place where new things is going on- a Metelkova for Sarajevo. This something really is missing in Sarajevo. Of course there is the funding problem, but also a lack of the dedicated people who would like to get their hands dirty and work hard to get it set up.
SCB: Sarajevo has always been known for having a very strong musical scene- do you think it is seen as more of a city for music rather than for visual art?
NSV: Hmm, another difficult question. Sarajevo has always been known for having a very strong musical scene; and not just for the celebrities, but also for having a deep pool of very talented and technically able locals. We can think of the importance of the likes of Bijelo Dugme, and other rock brands from the 60s and 70s; then, whatever one’s opinion of them, the New Primitives were also important in the early 80s.
As for the art scene, i didn’t know it so well, as I was living in Zagreb for quite a time. But when I came back to Sarajevo, Zvono was one of the places that I always went to, to see what was going on. Zvono was a very lively place, well known amongst artists, who came to visit from all across ex-Yugoslavia.
SCB: One of the noticeable things about the art scene here is the adaptability of people in it; they are equally happy curating something short run and informal, as in doing something on a more “institutional” level, thinking about the Zvono group of that time.
NSV: Well, this adaptability, it is perhaps to do with the pragmatic nature of many Bosnian people. People are equally adaptible in terms of the art world. Certinaly, the Yugoslav Dokumenta shows (curated in 1987 and 1989 in Skenderija, by Jusuf Hadžifejzović, Radoslav Tadić, Enver Hadžiomerspahić, and Šaša Bukvić)were very important for our city in visual art.
SCB: Yet this is an interesting point. Of all the contemporary artists active in the city, Ambrosia are perhaps best known for their refusal of this pragmatism; of their determination to work as artists and to refuse these sorts of compromises…
NSV: Well, we really want to express ourselves. This was a strategic decision that we took at the beginning of our “Ice Age” from…
OS: from about 2003, probably, until maybe 2008.
NSV: Yeah. When our radio show that we had been doing finished in 2003, we really wanted to return to Ambrosia. We really took the decision to focus on that, without compromise. We knew that the consequences were that we wouldn’t be able to get serious money for our work; I think even for a while we ceased to exist as an officially registered organisation. We decided to focus on art production alone, to do what we want, and not what we think we are supposed to do.
None of us have ever been much interested in money or celebrity. Our group exists and works because we enjoy what we do. When you have this kind of attitude, it is not necessary to compromise.
All of us do other things in our professional lives to exist; all of us are middle class guys with credit in the bank, who have cars (well, all of us except Tašo). We have the experience of ten to twelve years of work,and then the lessons we learned from the GUMA coalition and the failure to create a scene.
We realised that we are not capable either as individuals, or as a group, to create a scene, and actually we do not want to do it. We don’t want to sacrifice the crazy ideas that we have for this kind of work. We decided to work as an organisation which sometimes worked intensively, and sometimes not at all. Our jobs means that we can finance ourselves and do not have to ask anyone else for money. Just after the war, we charged a membership fee, and that was quite high; this kept us going in the way that our other sources of income keep us going now. We don’t need to compromise, and philosophy, capabilities and social pathologies all stem from this. In some ways we are not very communicative, and not very PR oriented. When all these aspects are combined, we decided that the way to go was to follow creativity, between ourselves as members and with any like minded person who wants to join with us as a member, or a supporter, or simply as an interested outsider. This is possible because we are compatible personalities, we do not agree about everything, but we can work together regardless, as we have the same or similar aesthetic interests.
SCB: As we are moving to aesthetics, who would you characterise as your main interests and influences?
NSV /OS: wow, almost too many to mention, really. How long have you got? (laughs). Look, we can point to figures like Lydia Lunch, Nietzsche and Rimbaud as being really important. It took us a lot of time to reach that point.
None of us had a formal education, but during 1995 and 1996, the early members of the group worked really hard together to learn and develop a profound art historical and cultural knowledge. The outcome of this was a radio show called “The Dictionary of Historical Dying”- a loose translation from our language- this acted as a compendium of cultural history, cultural events, thoughts, science, arts, music, from the mediaevel period to today.
We passed through art history in a very thorough way; to make the kind of programme we were making, a very profound knowledge was necessary. For each show we not only had to understand the artist or the subject that we were presenting, but also to be able to make links and connections- how does one link Rembrandt with Kandinsky, for example? This radio programme for us was like a kind of Ambrosia International University; we developed an aesthetic of the group learning of everything that could be considered as culture, and to present that in an innovative and challenging way. This experience certainly contributed to the development of common aesthetics, as a collective learning process. The radio show was on Studio 99 starting in April 1995, and finished in June 1996. Only they would give us a space, and they didn’t really have a clue what we were doing between 10 and 11 at night, when we were on. We thought that hardly anyone at all was listening, but we were surprised to be stopped on the street and either praised or taken to task for recent programmes by members of the public. it really was a first public research project for us.
SCB: Can you tell us something of your working processes?
NSV: It’s difficult to generalise but we can talk about one or two individual examples. the sources for our work are so varied. For example, Elvir works in a university in Zenica; on his way back to Sarajevo he passed a butcher’s shop, with four sheep’s heads lying in blood in the window. The initial idea for our Halal performance came from that chance sighting. Then we had a group meeting, not quite a brainstorming but a really involved discussion where everyone gives free reign to the craziest ideas; we are constrained only by logistical pragmatics. Our recent performances really have pushed the boundaries both of budgeting and technical capabilities.
It was the same with our first public performance towards the end of the war, which was in a space called Galerija Gabriel. At that time I worked in the Bosnian army training centre. Since there was a notorious lack of electricity in the city, had no electricity, I asked my commander at the training centre, if we could have a space to practice our performance and work through some ideas. The commander decided that we were fighting with culture as well as with guns, and so therefore ordered all his resources to be put at our disposal, including transportation and electrical generators for the opening night, We went through a very bizarre experience, in recording 45 minutes of quadrophonic music with no electricity; with ancient tape recorders only. (Tašo laughing in background).
We had a performance and exhibition of portraits on the opening night, with our music playing in the background. We also held a controlled press conference in which we did not permit unscripted questions, which was quite controversial- it was the first item on the TV news that evening. Technically we really pushed it at that show- remember this was still in a wartime situation- and tried to take forward the positive results from it. We always try to push at technical limits and expand our range of creative possibilities.
SCB: You have been involved in many performances, happenings and events. Which three do you remember the most and are still inspirational to you as a group?
NSV / OS: Well, the one that springs to mind immediately was the Cabaret in Ljubljana in 1997, we made seven events in three days and all of us were completely exhausted at the end of it. I got pneumonia from that, and was so tired that i fell asleep in a jazz club in Ljubljana, to where our hosts had taken us after our work was finished. There were problems that we hadn’t foreseen. The whole thing started at the Moderna galerija in Ljubljana, I was meant to spend half an hour under water in a barrel, waiting for the press and audience to turn up so that I could burst out from under water and read our manifesto. Unfortunately, there was no hot water at the Moderna, and the water I had to stay in was absolutely freezing. That didn’t quite work out!
But really, it’s too hard for us to single just a few things out. We had a great performance based on the works of Arthur Rimbaud in Zagreb. Because I had lived there for a while, i knew that Zagreb theatre audiences were notoriously picky and hyper-critical. It was very challenging to do something there and to satisfy such a demanding audience. They responded very well to us, even when we ended up covering them in foam; we also declaimed four sentences from our manifesto, which unfortunately are near untranslatable in English.
SCB: Are Ambrosia still open to new members, or is it true that the group is now closed to applications?
NSV: I wouldnt say we are closed, but also we are closed; it is hard for people from the outside to get into us and our ways of working; to identify with us; a certain type of identity has developed amongst the four of us. We have a long history together, and our working process has evolved for over twenty years. We are open to new members, but at the same time, as time goes by, people who started with us either left us, or the city altogether; we have a certain kind of group process and identity, so much so that i will probably declare my identity as “Ambrosia” on the census! I don’t really understand other labels as a human being; this is my statement against this kind of categorisation; people like us, creative people, became an ethnic minority in the last twenty years. It something of a political message; as we said in one of our earliest texts, we are located in Sarajevo, but always far away from Sarajevo, too.
SCB: What plans do you have for your work in the next year or so?
NSV: In the last year we did a lot of things in a short space of time. so we are concentrating on our day jobs at the moment. But we have been working a lot on our music and Limnalit. At the moment we are missing a proper practice space; the spaces are too small in Pierre’s new gallery for what we want to do, and Čarlama is without electricity- although of course we could turn that to our advantage. There’s nothing concrete planned as yet, but definitely something will happen before the end of the year.
We also have the task of sorting out our vast archive. We have a huge archive of documentation and materials that we have been partially releasing through our fandium magazines. But I think we are leaving this big task for next summer, when we can take all the stuff to our mountain-house and sort it out from there.
Thanks very much to Nebojša and Tašo for their time, If you have been interested by the issues raised in this interview, please visit Ambrosia’s website for more information on their past and present work. Also, please keep your eyes on the social networks for Liminalit’s next appearance in the city later this year- something we will look forward to reviewing for SCB. In the meantime, check out Liminalit’s soundcloud page here.
BiH Artists Talking 6: Enesa Ustamujić
Enesa Ustamujić je mlada bosanskohercegovačka umjetnica i historičarka umjetnosti. Poslije Srednje škole primijenjenih umjetnosti (odsjek za slikarstvo u klasi prof. Smaje Selmanovića), Enesa pohađa redovni studij na Akademiji likovnih umjetnosti (nastavnički odsjek), i iste godine na Filozofskom fakultetu upisuje vanredni studij (katedra za historiju umjetnosti i odsjek za bibliotekarstvo). Trenutno je na postdiplomskom studiju na oba fakulteta. Pored fakultetskih obaveza, Enesa je svoje slobodno vrijeme posvećivala volontiranju, dodatnoj edukaciji i usavršavanju. Moja uvijek prijatna kolegica i sagovornica je nedavno predstavila svoju prvu samostalnu izložbu. Evo o čemu je riječ:
- Možes li nam reći nešto više o izložbi. Koji je medij u pitanju?
Kako je nastala? Kako se razvijala? Zašto u Richu?
Ovo je bilo moje prvo samostalno predstavljanje bh. javnosti. Projekat ,,Umjetničko ljeto u Clubu Rich“ se realizuje od početka šestog mjeseca ove godine, a moja izložba je organizirana sedma po redu. Primarni cilj cluba Rich jeste pokušati podići svijest o očuvanju kulture i umjetnosti na veći nivo, te postaviti umjetnost u zasluženi centar zbivanja. Ono što me veoma raduje jeste činjenica da je javnost prepoznala i podržala ovaj čin. Riječ je o ciklusu slika ,,Život pod maskama“, koje su nastale u sklopu dodiplomskog studija na Akademiji likovnih umjetnosti 2012. godine u klasi prof. Radoslava Tadića i pod mentorstvom teorijskog dijela prof. dr. Bore Đukanovića. U skladu sa izložbenim prostorijama cluba Rich i prema ličnoj selekciji, izložila sam deset slika i jednu skulpturu koja zapravo predstavlja moje slikarstvo u trodimenzionalnosti. Slike su različitih formata (1,40cm x 1m, 80cm x 80cm, 1m x 70cm itd.) i rađene su u tehnici ulja, što ujedno i predstavlja jedan od mojih omiljeni medija, budući da nudi različite mogućnosti. U suštini, veoma sam zadovoljna cjelokupnom izložbom, od same organizacije, postavke i naravno posjete. Ono što me posebno raduje jeste činjenica da je izložba veoma medijski eksponirana, što mi predstavlja posebnu satisfakciju. Izložbu je otvorila diplomirana historičarka Aida Šarac. Problematiziram ,,bolest“ suvremenog društva, budući da smo se svi makar jednom susreli sa ljudskom hipokrizijom i zlobom, te je zaista vrijeme da maske konačno spadnu!
Slike podliježu konceptu nadrealnog, što uistinu obilježava moju umjetničku poetiku. Odsustvo ljudske figure i portreta po mom mišljenju stvara psihološki utisak praznine. Portretno slikarstvo je veoma zanimljivo područje umjetnosti, naročito kada je riječ o djelima nadrealizma, budući da su se nadrealisti izdigli nad širim narodnim masama i iznad tradicionalnog slikarstva kako bi ispitali sklop čovjekove svijesti. Fantazijska, iracionalna i imaginacijska komponenta umjetnosti oduvijek je izražavala tajnovite predjele ljudske duše. Centralni motiv moje slike zauzima jedna ljudska figura ili portret, koji posjeduje masku: u rukama, na licu, ili u prostoru slike. Slike sadrže heterogene predmete, kao što su geometrijske plohe i prirodne oblike, koji ističu u prvi plan značaj samog motiva- figuru ili portretnu masku. Povezujem detalje njihovom zajedničkom pozadinom, na taj način stvarajući jedinstvenu atmosferu nadrealizma, koja se održava uz pomoć repetativnih geometriziranih oblika i upotrebe same boje. Proces kombinovanja geometrijskih oblika i nadrealne atmosfere odvija se kao jedna prostorna i koloristička pojava. Slike su realne po načinu percipiranja motiva, a nadrealne po atmosferi koju odražavaju. Okarakterisane su intenzivnim i čistim bojama, plošnim tretmanom jednolikog namaza, naglašenom plastičnošću, te blagim nijansiranjem tona kojim se stvara nadrealna atmosfera.
- Što je tebi najprivlačnije u umjetnosti?
Obzirom da sam veliki zaljubljenik psihologije, uvijek nastojim svojim djelima dati jednu notu misticizma i dubljeg značenja. Volim narativno slikarstvo, u smislu da moje slike reflektiraju stvarno stanje suvremenog društva.
Po pitanju same predstave maske, sve naredne karakteristike se daju uvidjeti, samo ukoliko se slika zna promatrati sa pravog ugla i bez predrasuda.
Maska stalno traži potvrdu same sebe u očima drugih. Maske su često prevrtljive, hirovite, transformabilne, nameću visoke moralne standarde, tašte su i autoritativne. Imaju potrebu za slavom i uspjehom, neobično ambiciozne, s izrazitom željom kontrolisanja i potkupljivanja drugih. Upravo tada, one i nastupaju… Pojedinac koristi više maski, pribjegava laskanju i davanju komplimenta određenoj osobi, iako to nerado čini, zarad nekog svog ličnog interesa. Na primjer, u poslovnoj sredini, gdje radnik postavlja osmjeh na lice na račun komentara svoga šefa, iako to uopšte ne smatra zanimljivim. Česte su maske kojima pojedinac pribjegava, da li je samo u pitanju pristojnost, lakši i bolji vid komunikacije ili nešto sasvim treće. Postoje četiri maske, koje su u najvišem stepenu upotrebe, a to su maske: dobrote, moći, popularnosti i nedodirljivosti.
- Koji su tvoji uzori i o čemu najčešće govoriš u svojim slikama?
Svakako da postoje umjetnici i umjetnice čija me likovna poetika uvijek oduševi i inspiriše, jer samo studiranje na Akademiji likovnih umjetnosti i sam ulazak u likovni svijet podrazumijeva interesovanje za svijet umjetnosti općenito. Međutim, konkretnih imena i uzora nemam, jer pokušavam uvijek dosegnuti jedan suptilni nivo originalnosti i vlastite percepcije. Na slikama koje čine postavku moje prve samostalne izložbe ,,Život pod maskama“, dominira jedna nadrealna nota koja mi je u tom periodu života i stvaralaštva bila itekako bliska. Motivacija i inspiracija uvijek dođu spontano, makar u sopstvenom promišljanju. Vlastito iskustvo i iskustva mojih prijatelja i poznanika su me nagnali na jedan stvaralački čin, koji bi predstavio jednu sveprisutnu negativnost koja je neizbježna. Maska, posmatrajući sa aspekta sociologije i psihologije čini značajan sastavni dio ljudske svakodnevnice. Ova djela predstavljaju jedan vrhunac moje zrelosti, budući da su nastale u jednom divnom periodu moga života, u okviru praktičnog dijela mog dodiplomskog rada.
Problematiziram portretisane ličnosti sa psihološkog aspekta, pojma ličnosti kao zbira karakteristika koje određuju pojedinca u društvenoj zajednici, sa značajnim akcentom na pojam persone. Teorijska platforma na koju se oslanjam je metafizičko slikarstvo koje je nastalo na planu nadrealnog, kao i na teoriju Carl Gustava Junga te njegovu podjelu arhetipa. Ovi elementi se manifestuju na mojim slikama putem predstavljenih maski koje su simbol skrivanja i iluzije, a u umjetnosti zapada smatraju se atributom personifikovane prevare, poroka i moći. Za realizaciju ovih likovnih djela najviše me inspirisalo vlastito iskustvo te okruženje u kojem živimo, budući da ljudi uvijek teže biti neko ,,drugi.“
- Koja je tvoja vizija uloge umjetnosti u današnjem svijetu?
Likovna umjetnost ima mnogo oblika i još više funkcija. Nažalost, umjetnost može da bude samo svijet i okvir samog umjetnika, budući da publika često ne zna ili ne može prepoznati kvalitete. Umjetnost nastaje zbog konzumenata, međutim mislim da je neophodna edukacija publici, kako bi u pravom smislu mogli poštovati i cijeniti likovno stvaralaštvo. Stoga je od velikog značaja imati okruženje ljudi koji su svjesni samog postojanja umjetnosti, njene ekspanzije i kontinuiteta.
Sama spoznaja o zatvaranju institucija od velikog kulturno-historijskog i umjetničkog značaja je veoma bolna i zabrinjavajuća činjenica, gledajući sa aspekta mladog diplomiranog historičara umjetnosti i akademskog slikara. Perspektiva likovne umjetnosti postoji i treba da postoji, međutim problem je u ljudskoj pasivnosti prema svemu. Ljudi su naviknuti na lošu situaciju u državi, tako da te opskurne misli prenose i u područje umjetnosti, naročito likovne koju nerijetko i potcjenjuju. Mišljenja sam da je uvijek potrebno ispoštovati i realizirati zadatak umjetnosti, a kao jedan od najznačajnijih jeste sama kompetencija umjetnosti da podvuče liniju etike i morala, te svakako da u ovom dehumaniziranom svijetu izvrši povratak čovjeku.
Svaka profesija za koju se njeni djelatnici ne zalažu i ne trude se postaviti je na veći nivo, nema svijetlu budućnost. Budućnost se kroji kontinuiranim radom, marljivošću, trudom, voljom za uspjehom i progresom. Mi kao kulturni djelatnici smo na jedan način i dužni postaviti likovnu umjetnost a samim tim i našu tradiciju na pijadestal koji i zaslužuje, te je permanentno pomaći sa margine društva u centar zbivanja. Našem društvu je potrebna promjena od temelja, putem različitih kulturoloških aspekata- takozvana kulturna revolucija!
Umjetnost je hedonizam, a ukoliko hedonizam izostane, onda umjetnost kao takva ogoljena- ispašta. Prostora za izlaganje djela zaista ima, međutim nameće se pitanje istinskog interesovanja mladog stvaraoca za izlaganjem- za prezentacijom svoga rada. Često, pasivnost i određena doza pesimizma dominiraju, pa kao takvi ostaju u sjeni društva, odnosno na margini. Mišljenja sam da je lijenost najveći neprijatelj mladom umjetniku. Također, vječita flegmatičnost prema svijetu i životu nas je upravo dovelo u stanje u kojem smo trenutno.
- Kakvi su tvoji planovi za budućnost?
Moja najveća istinska pokretačka snaga u stvaranju umjetnosti jeste ljubav prema likovnom kazivanju. Ljubav, volja i želja me uvijek u potpunosti oslobode svih konvencionalnih okvira, koji su nam katkad i više nego nametnuti. Likovnost je jedna stvaralačka kompetencija koja je uvijek bila prisutna u mojoj likovnoj poetici, od ranog djetinjstva pa do današnjih studentskih dana.
Trenutno svoje vrijeme posvećujem realizaciji master rada ,,Melanholija kao univerzalni ljudski fenomen u likovnom stvaralaštvu“ na Akademiji likovnih umjetnosti, čiju odbranu očekujem u septembru 2013. godine. Mentor za praktični dio je prof. Radoslav Tadić, a za teoretski dio prof. dr. Boro Đukanović. Izrada, iščitavanje literature i naravno praktični dio mi zaista oduzimaju mnogo vremena, međutim kada se nešto radi iz ljubavi i iz zadovoljstva, napor i umor i nisu baš mnogo vidljivi. Prioritet mi je privesti studij kraju, kako bih se mogla posvetiti nekim drugim stvarima i naravno traženju posla, za koji sam se na kraju krajeva i edukovala. Svakako da imam želju i dalje prosperitetno raditi, te naravno opet ostvariti neke saradnje vezane za izlaganje djela.
Enesa Ustamujić is a young Bosnian artist and art historian. After finishing the High School of Practical Arts (Department of Painting in the class of Smajo Selmanovic), Enesa starts full time study at the Academy of Fine Arts (educational department), and the same year he enrolled at the Faculty of Philosophy (Department of Art History and the Department of Library Science). Now she is on post-graduate study at both universities. In addition to university commitments, Enesa spends her free time volunteering, during further education and training. My always pleasant interlocutor and colleague as well has recently presented her first solo exhibition. Here is what was going on:
1) Can you tell us more about the exhibition. What is the main medium? How did it occur? How did it develop? Why in Rich club?
This was my first solo presentation to the BiH public. Project Art Summer at Club Rich is realized from the beginning of the sixth month of the year, and my exhibition is organized seventh. The primary goal of this club is to try to raise awareness about the preservation of culture and the arts to a higher level, and to the art into the deserved center events. What makes me really happy is the fact that the public has recognized and supported the act. It is a cycle of paintings „Life under the masks“ that emerged in the undergraduate studies stage at the Academy of Fine Arts 2012th in the class of prof. Radoslav Tadic and under the mentorship of prof. Dr. Boro Djukanovic for theoretical part. According to the exhibition premises of club Rich and my personal selection, I presented ten paintings and one sculpture that actually represents my painting in three dimensions. Paintins are different formats (1.40 cm x 1m, 80cm x 80cm, 1m x 70cm, etc.) and were prepared in oil, it also represents one of my favorite medium, since it offers a variety of options. In fact, I am very pleased with the overall exhibition, from the organization, setting and of course: the attendance. What makes me particularly happy is the fact that the exhibition is very exposed in the media, it is my special satisfaction. The exhibition was opened by historian Aida Sarac. I discusses about the disease of modern society, since we have all met at least once with human hypocrisy and malice, and is really the time for masks to fell off.
Paintings yield to the concept of surreal, which really marked my artistic poetics. The absence of human figures and portraits in my opinion creates the psychological impression of emptiness. Portrait painting is a very interesting area of art, especially when it comes to works of surrealism, since the surrealists had arisen over the broad masses and above traditional painting to examine complex human consciousness. Fantasy, irrational and imaginative component of art has always expressed mysterious places of the human soul. The central motif of my paintings takes a human figure or portrait, holding a mask: in his hands, the face, or in the area of the image. Paintings include heterogeneous objects such as geometric surfaces and natural forms, where in the forefront stands the importance of the motif-figure or portrait mask. I connect details with their shared background, thus creating a unique atmosphere of surrealism, which takes place with the help of repetitive geometric shapes and the use of color. The process of combining geometric shapes and surreal atmosphere occurs as a spatial and color phenomenon. Paintings are real in the way of perceiving motives and surreal atmosphere by reflecting that. They are characterized by intense and pure colors, flatbed treatment of uniform prayers, distinctive elasticity pronounced plasticity and mild tinting tone that creates a surreal atmosphere.
2) What is the most appealing in art to you?
Since I am a big fan of psychology, I always try to give my works a touch of mysticism and deeper meanings. I love narrative painting, in the sense that my paintings reflect the real state of modern society.
In terms of the idea of mask, all following features can be seen, only if the painting is observed from the right angle and without prejudice.
The mask always asks for confirmation of itself in the eyes of the others. Masks are often fickle, capricious, transformable, they impose high moral standards, are fasting and authoritative as well. They also have a need for fame and success, are unusually ambitious, with a strong desire to controll and bribery the others. Just then, they perform … Individua uses multiple masks, resorts flattering and giving compliments to particular person, although it seems reluctant, for the sake of some of his personal interest. For example, in a business environment, where an employee raises a smile on his face at the expense of comments his boss, although it generally not considers interesting. Masks are frequent which an individual resorts, whether it is just a question of propriety, easier and better way of communication or something else. There are four masks, which are on the highest level of usage, such as masks of goodness, power, popularity and untouchability.
3) What are your role models and what are yoy usually talking about in your paintings?
Certainly, there are artists whose artistic poetics always amazes me and inspires, because studying at the Academy of Fine Arts and entering the art world implies an interest in the art world in general. However, I do not have specific names and models, because I always try to reach one subtle level of originality and own perception. On the paintings that made the setting of my first solo exhibition „Life under the masks,“ dominats a single surreal note that was very close to me in this period of life and creativity. Motivation and inspiration always comes naturally, even in one’s own reflection. My own experience and the experiences of my friends and acquaintances, have prompted me to creative act, which introduced a ubiquitous, inevitable negativity. Mask, from the point of view of sociology and psychology, makes a significant part of human everyday life. These works constitute one highlight of my maturity, as they were in a wonderful period of my life, in the practical part of my undergraduate work.
I discussed the portrayed personalities from the psychological aspect, personality as the sum of the characteristics that define an individual in the community, with a significant emphasis on the notion of persona. Theoretical platform they I relied on is the metaphysical painting that was created in the field of surreal, like the theory of Carl Gustav Jung and his division of the archetype. These elements are manifested in my paintings through masks that are a symbol of concealment and illusion, and that are in the west art west considered an attribute of personalized fraud, vice and power. For the realization of these works of art, I was inspired the most from my personal experience and the environment in which we live, because people are always trying to be somebody else, the others.
4) What do you think about the role of art in today’s world?
Visual Art has many forms and even more functions. Unfortunately, the art may be just the world and the frame of the artist, as audiences often do not know or can not identify quality. Art is created for consumers, but I think it is necessary to educate the public in order to be able to appreciate the true sense and to appreciate the art work. Therefore it is very important to have an environment of people who are aware of the existence of art, its expansion and continuity.
Only the cognition of closed institutions of great cultural, historical and artistic significance is very painful and troubling fact, from the aspect of a young graduate art historian and painter. There is a perspective for art, and it should exist, but the major problem is human passivity towards everything. People are used to the bad situation in the country, so that these obscure thoughts are transmitted in the area of art, especially visaul arts that are often underestimated. I think it is always necessary to implement one of the tasks of art which is to underline the ethics and morality, and certainly to return to the man from this dehumanized world.
Each profession not committed by its employees has no bright future. The future is being tailored with continuous work, diligence, hard work, with the will to succeed and progress. We as cultural workers are on one way obliged to set up art and therefore our tradition on the the pedestal that it deserves, and to permanently move art from the margins of society to the center of events. Our society needs a change from the ground up, through various cultural aspects-called cultural revolution!
Art is hedonism, and if hedonism is absent, then so bared art suffers. The Space for exhibiting art works is really there, but the question is the true interest of the young creator for exposure-for the presentation of their work. Often, passivity and a certain dose of pessimism dominated, and as such remain in the shadows of society, or in the margin. I think that laziness is the biggest enemy of a young artist. Also, eternal phlegmatism towards life and the world brought us in a state where we currently are.
5) What are your plans for the future?
My biggest real driving force in creating the art is in the love for the visual narrative. Love, desire and wish are always making me completely free of all conventional framework, to which we are sometimes more than impose. The visualness is one creative competence that has always been present in my artistic poetics, from early childhood to the present student days.
Currently, I dedicate my time to the realization of master work „Melancholia as a universal human phenomenon in fine arts” at the Academy of Fine Arts, whose defense is expected in September 2013th year. Mentor for the practical part is prof. Radoslav Tadic, and the professor of theoretical part is Dr. Boro Djukanovic. Creating, reading literature, and of course the practical part are really taking a lot of my time, but when something is done out of love and pleasure, effort and fatigue are not so much visible. My priority is to bring to the end the studies, so that I could devote myself to some other things, and of course, finding a job, for which I have ultimately been educating myself. Forsure I have the desire to remain prosperously working, and of course again to achieve some cooperation related to the exposure of artworks.
BiH Artists Talking 5 : Jusuf Hadžifejzović
Jusuf Hadžifejzović, 23.01.2013. u Zvonu
SCB: Dobro veče Jusufe. Što se desilo poslije onog performansa, nakon eventa i incidenta u Charlami? Ima li poboljšanja ili stagnacije?
Jusuf: Pa budućnost vidim u mladim ljudima koji su zainteresovani za ovu vrstu umjetnosti, pod broj jedan: jer od kerova koji se nazor tjeraju u lov, nema lova. Ovo što se dogodilo sa Charlamom, to je problem ovog društva. Ali mi se ne predajemo, jer baš kao što mogu svi narodi ovdje da žive, mora se naći nekakav način da i umjetnici žive, da nekako zauzmu postolje koje im pripada. Ne mora to da bude ništa “extra”, ali potrebno je samo da mogu da rade, da imaju prostor, material i elementarna sredstva za rad. Tako da sam poslije Art Fighta, napravio izložbu koja se zove Inicijacija u salonu za proslave, gdje već sam naslov sugeriše neki drugi svijet, da se okrenemo koloritu, veselju, da napravimo neku malu magiju, da izađemo iz ovih tmurnih perioda života kojih je bilo stvarno dosta. I mislim da umjetnici treba da uzmu stvar u svoje ruke, da prave izložbe i to blickrig izložbe, ono da odmah napadamo primjera radi Visoko i da tamo napravimo izložbu pred očima publike i visočke javnosti. Tako da vremenom obiđemo sve gradove, ali i da odemo na selo. Kada pogledate otvaranje izložbe u Collegiumu ili u Umjetničkoj galeriji manje-više dođu ljudi da se pokažu i da vide usput radove. Poslije toga, u našim galerijama nema nikog. Ne smijemo sebe da lažemo, mislim da je poštenije odnijeti u neko obliznje selo oko Sarajeva izložbu, originalnu sliku ili pred očima djece i seljaka napraviti rad tako da se vidi da umjetnost nije bauk, da može da nastane od kartona, od jeftinih materijala, ne bi li ponukali nekog od tih mladih ljudi da postanu umjetnici. Ako im to ne pokažemo, oni jednostavno neće ni znati da to mogu.
SCB: Pričajući o stanju u Charlami, u nekoliko navrata sam javno rekla da ukoliko Charlama treba samo Jusufu, onda je slobodno možemo zatvoriti, ali ukoliko je ona dio svih nas, dio publike koja se ne svodi na historičare umjetnosti i umjetnike, već naprosto dio naroda, onda i treba da radi. Šta Vi po tom pitanju mislite? Da li umjetnost treba da bude priča sama za sebe ili da djeluje u širem krugu?
Jusuf: Prvo što je jako bitno za cijelu umjetnost, takoreći još od perzijskog slikarstva: bez javnosti nema umjetnosti! Historija umjetnosti ne zna ni jedan tajni rad, jer čim rad otkrijemo, on postaje umjetnost. Umjetnički rad mora biti izložen javnosti, a umjetnik mora da bude spreman na svakojake primjedbe, kritike, svakojake priče i izmišljotine oko svog rada. Snagom rada svakog umjetnika, to se prevazilazi. Znači, normalno je da publika treba da postoji i da bude tu, ali mislim da je jako puno u rukama umjetnika. Kao umjetnik, smatram da mi sve što radim ne treba samo za mene, već to više smatram kao neku svoju misiju jer znam da u Bosni I Hercegovini postoji mnogo darovitih ljudi. Mogu misliti koliko je darovitih ljudi tokom stotina godina propalo jer nikada nisu vidjeli umjetnika, djelo. I sam znam kako sam postao umjetnikom. Da moj otac nije kupio neke dvije uljane slike, slike “low klase”, meni kao djetetu iz provincije, iz Prijepolja, se nikada ne bi pokazalo to malo čudo koje je neko napravio rukom i koje sam ubrzo počeo olovkom da oponašam. Što je umjetnost raznolikija i jača, i taj impuls je jači. Što više radimo, jača umjetnička scena. Tako sada možemo govoriti o nekoj domaćoj likovnoj sceni, koja je živa, a iza koje ne postoji nikakav novac i nikakva pamet: postoji samo želja.
SCB: Naša likovna kritika nije bas živa. Možete li mi reći kakav bi prema Vašem mišljenju trebao biti taj odnos umjetnosti i kritike?
Jusuf: Pa likovna kritika, historičari i kritičari su konduktori, oni koji trebaju da ubrzaju upoznavanje umjetničkog djela i publike, oni koji trebaju da je objasne, približe i da se ne događa situacija kao kod nas kada ljudi prolaze pored Charlame i gledaju u nas drugim očima. Jasno mi je da je to rascjep kojeg mi vučemo iz tradicije, da kod nas u Bosni nije bilo puno slika po kućama iz vjerskih razloga, ali šta je s apstraktnom umjetnošću, šta je s fotografijom i drugim medijima. Vremena su se izmijenila, ali moramo što više raditi i dovoditi ljude, proizvoditi od jeftinih materijala koji će biti vjerodostojno svjedočanstvo o djelovanju u ovoj sredini. Jednom prilikom mi je moj pokojni profesor Ljubo Lah pričao da je neko od Sarajlija kupio platno u Francuskoj i potom rekao da nikako ne može da se usudi da slika na platnu jer je ranije slikao na jeftinijim materijalima. Sve to označava vrijeme i stanje. Ono što je umjetniku na dohvat ruke, postaje prvo sredstvo kojem on počinje da govori. Ako pogledamo arhitekturu, gdje ima kamena – kuće su od kamena, gdje ima drveta – kuće su od drveta, gdje ima zemlje-kuće su od cigle. Beri cvijeće oko sebe. To pokazuje cijela historija umjetnosti. Trebamo samo raditi bez komplesa.
SCB: Ono što iznimno cijenim u Vašem radu je povezivanje citata iz naše tradicije sa citatima iz svjetske umjetnosti . Zašto Vam to treba? Što Vam to konkretno omogućuje? Da li još dugo namjeravate time da se bavite?
Jusuf: Ja već dugo radim na taj način. Rođen sam u Prijepolju, srednju umjetničku školu završio u Sarajevu, akademiju u Beogradu, postdiplomski u Dusseldorfu, živio sam 12 godina u Antwerpenu, pa sam uvijek pokušavao da ta specifična iskustva istoka i zapada prenesem na mlade ovdje. Savremena umjetnost danas može biti bilo šta, ukoliko čovjek svemu uspije dati malo magije i snage, da to, kao što djeluje na njega, tako djeluje i na druge. A što se tice citatnosti, jednostavno nekad dođe to vrijeme da moraš upotrijebiti argument iz prošlosti, zato što je taj argment uspio stotinu, pedeset godina prije, pa ne bi li i ovdje poslužio kao ubrzivač promjena.
SCB: Hvala Vam mnogo Jusufe!
Jusuf: Hvala Vama!
Jusuf Hadžifejzović, 23.01.2013. u Zvonu
SCB: Good evening Jusuf. What happened after that performance, after the event and incident in Charlama? Is there some improvement or stagnation?
Yusuf: Well, I see the future in the young people who are interested in this kind of art, at first: because there is no hunting from dogs that are forced to hunt. What happened with Charlama, it is a problem of this society. But we will not surrender, because in the same way that different people live here, one must find a way for artists to live, to somehow take the stand that they should have. It does not have to be anything “extra”, but it is necessary for them to have a space, material and elemental funding. So after Art Fight, I made an exhibition called Initiation in the Salon for the Celebrations, where the title is already suggesting one other world, a turn to colors, to joy, to make a bit of magic that would help us get out of this gloomy period of life which we had enough. And I think that artists should take matters into their own hands, to make the exhibition and to make blitzkrieg exhibitions, they should immediately attack, for example, Visoko and should do there an exhibition in front of the audience and the public form Visoko. This way we would eventually visit all the cities and the countryside. When you look at the Collegium exhibition opening or at the Art Gallery opening, people more or less come to show themselves and to see the works by the way. After that, our galleries are empty. We must not deceive ourselves, I think it’s fairer to take an exhibition or the original painting in a nearby village around Sarajevo and to expose them to the sight of children and farmers so that they see that art is not the bogeyman, and that art may arise from cardboard, from cheap materials, in order to prompt some of these young people to become artists. If we do not show this, they would not know they could do such thing.
SCB: Talking about the situation in Charlama, on several occasions, I have said that if you only need Charlama for Jusuf, then we can shut her down, but if Charlama is part of us, part of the audience that can not be reduced to art historians and artists, but simply part of the people then it should be open. What do you think about it? Does art have to be a story in itself, or to act in a wider range?
Jusuf: The first thing that is very important for whole art, so to speak, since the Persian painting: there is no art without the public! History of art knows does not know the secret work because as soon as we find work, it becomes art. Art work must be exposed to the public, and the artist must be ready for all kinds of comments, criticism, fiction and all kinds of stories about their work. With the strength of each artist, this would be overcome. So, it is normal that the audience needs to be there, but I think that very much stands in the hands of artists. As an artist, I believe that everything I do should not be just for me, but I feel like this is a mission because I know that at the moment there are a lot of talented people. I can only imagine how many talented people over hundreds of years was wasted because they never saw the artist’s work. And I know how I became an artist. If my father had not purchased some two oil paintings, paintings of “low class” to me as a child from the provinces, from Prijepolje, I would never have found that little wonder that someone made by hand, and I soon began to mimic it with the pen. As art is diversified and stronger, that impulse is stronger. The more you do, the stronger art scene is. So now we can speak of a local art scene, which is alive, and behind that there is no money and no wit: there is only a desire.
SCB: Our art criticism is not exactly alive. Can you tell me what do You believe should be the relationship between art and criticism?
Yusuf: Well, art critics, historians and critics are conductors, those who need to accelerate the introduction of the artwork and the audience, who need to explain, and to approach art so we would not have the situation as in our country when people pass by Charlama and they look at us with different eyes. I understand that this rift that we pull out from tradition is there with us in Bosnia because we did not have a lot of pictures at home for religious reasons, but what’s with abstract art, what is with photos and other media. Times have changed, but we have to work more and to bring people, we should make art from cheap materials so that thay would be a credible witness of the action in this environment. On one occasion, my late Professor Ljubo Lah told me that some of the people of Sarajevo bought canvas in France and then said that he does not dare to paint on canvas as previously painted on cheaper materials. All this indicates the time and the condition. What is near to artists hand, becomes the first means which he begins to speak. If you look at the architecture, where is a stone – the houses are made of stone, where is a wood – the houses are made of wood, where is a soil -houses are made of brick. Pick the flowers around you. This shows the whole history of art. We just need to work without complex.
SCB: What I really appreciate in your work is the way You connect the quotations from our traditions with quotes from the world of art. Why do you need it? What this allows You to do specifically? Do You intend to have a long time to do?
Yusuf: I have been creating in this way for long period of time. I was born in Prijepolje, finished secondary art school in Sarajevo, Academy in Belgrade, graduated in Dusseldorf, lived for 12 years in Antwerp, so I’m always trying transfer this the specific experiences of East and West to the young people here. Contemporary art today can be anything, if a man does not fail to give a bit of magic and power to his work so that as it acts on him, in the same way affects the other. And as for the citation, sometimes comes the time that you have to use the argument of the past because this argment managed a hundred, fifty years ago, would serve as an accelerator of change here.
Thanks to Jusuf for his time.
BiH Artists Talking 4: Edin Vejselovic (Edo Macedo)
SCB: Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?
EV: I always wanted to write a little book, How I Met Art, and How Art Met Me. I grew up in Skopje in Macedonia. The first influences were my parents and sculpture in particular; there was one in my home that fell on me when I was very small, and I still have the scar above my right eyebrow. However, my first real passion was for lettering; at the age of about 5 or 6 I liked to draw letters. During Communist times, in the eighties, they used to show paretisan films every Sunday on TV. I enjoyed Sundays, as my father was at home, and we used to watch these partisan movies together. In one of these films I saw a swastika and thought that it was an interesting shape. My parents allowed me to draw on the wall and soon I had a swastika about 5cms big on there. Then I went further, and one day on the street I drew a huge one with a broken brick. The very next day, I was alone with my mother at home, whilst my father was at work, and my sister at school. Two plainclothes policemen came to the door, as someone had reported the swastika drawing. My parents had a big library, so they went through all the books; they then saw the swastika that I had drawn on the wall, and they had me. Police were sent to the school where my sister was, and she was traumatised by that. My father was called home from his work. Fortunately, my grandfather was politically influential, so it all went away. I guess this was my first art scandal, at the age of about 5.
In Macedonia, at that time, we used both the Cyrillic and Latin alphabets; I had had a lot of practice, so I got an award for my letters on entering school. By the age of about ten, I was drawing very well. At around that time, I was on holiday on the coast with my family. In this town there were a lot of artists painting portraits of the tourists for some money. I really enjoyed watching them work, whilst my parents ate out. I was trying to work out which one was the best. One of these artists did my portrait, and my family were delighted with it, but I didn’t like the way that he had done my eyes. After a lot of argument at home, I finally took it back, and the artist did them better.
SCB: Tell us something about your artistic training.
EV: I started out in art high school in Skopje. Then I moved to Sarajevo, initially only for a short time. However, I was at a New Year party here and realised that I liked Sarajevo a lot, so I decided to stay. This was just after the war, in January ’97. I went to the art academy directly after the high school was finished; I made some good connections at school. In my final year there, the French Cultural Centre wanted to invite two students to make an exhibition in Paris; I was one of the artists chosen from a big presentation of all the students’ work. My work went to Paris to be shown, but unfortunately it didn’t come back, even though I asked repeatedly where it was. By way of compensation, they gave me four boxes of materials for painting and drawing, and I donated them to the art high school, as at the time there was very little material for painting here. I was happy to do that.
SCB: Tell us about your training at the Art Academy
EV: At the Academy, in my year, twenty one students applied for the painting course, and only five got in: I entered at the top of that list. It was a hard entrance exam, four days worth of drawing where you could draw whatever you wanted. In my first year at the academy, I was totally into the classics; particularly Rembrandt and Vermeer. In wintertime, at the end of the first semester, I had a month of free time; I was drawing every day at the Academy during this period. I had a bed made up and was sleeping there..I was friends with the janitor and he didn’t mind. I went out and was taking people from the street and drawing them; in one month I did more than fifty drawings. You only needed fifty drawings for the whole year, but at the end of the year I submitted more than two hundred. In the end, I got top marks on the basis that I had done so much.
At the end of my first year there was the famous ARS AEVI show in 99. It was a great show. At the same time, my first cousin, who is as close to me as a brother, was sending me lots of books on contemporary art from New York. So around then my horizons began to broaden. After I saw that ARS AEVI show, I made my first performance, a completely new way of approaching drawing. I made a typical drawing of Sarajevo, copied it thirty times, and framed all these pieces. I arranged them all in a line by the river bank. On the other bank of the river, I had a pile of clothes. I launched the works into the river and they floated away, whilst I crossed the river and put on the new clothes. It felt like it was a symbol for the change in my art and maybe the constant changes we all experience in our personalities; a new man, new clothes, a new type of thinking for my art. Many people stopped to watch and to have the paintings, it was a crazy experience.
Right after that, I had my first solo show at Meeting Point. I spent time in the space and got to know it, and how different types of worki would look in it. I made a site specific installation called World In It, where I stuck all the capitals of the world as a poiint on the wall or on the floor. On ewall was Europe, another wall America, with the developing countries on the floor. The passages in between the walls were like oceans. A version of this installation was in the last exhibition in the old duplex space last year, for the Deal With It show.
This was the beginning of my start in contemporary art. This was all at the start of the summer, at the time of the Sarajevo Film Festival. Back then , SFF had no opne/air theatre, and was based at Meeting Point. Everything happened in Meeting Point and all the famous actors and directors came there. The wife of the festival-s director, Izeta Gradjevic, had an eye for contemporary art: she had curated the exhibition of Christian Boltanski in Sarajevo during the war. She asked me to extend my show in Meeting Point for a further month, to coincide with the festival. Dunja Blazevic invited me to the librarz in the cupuola of the Academy: it was a huige library of contemporary art and video art, and straight away I felt at home there. I was there reading what I could most days. Then, about a year after that, the Manifesta curators came to Sarajevo: I wanted to apply for Manifesta, but Dunja thought that maybe I was too young yet. I had ten works using one artistic language ready to show to them and I decided toi go ahead anyway. They chose me to go to Manifesta: at the same time, I was included in a show Dunja did for ARS AEVI. I also went to Dokumenta as the leading assistant of Sanja Ivekovic. So, it all really snowballed around this time.
SCB: How did you find working for Sanja?
EV: She was really kind.It was my first time to see how everything really worked in the contemporary art world. I was the youngest artist at Manifesta. I saw the huge kindness and openness of international artists; there didn-t seem to be the same kind of jealousy as there was in Sarajevo. Here, artists are jealous and I am more used to that. As I see it, they are scared that someone will take over their stuff. At the Academy, when notices for funding applications were put up on the noticeboard, people would rip them down so that nobody else saw them. I was twenty three when I was at manifesta; all the time I was spending time with artists that I was reading about in books, they wanted to help and suggest more things to apply for, they were not selfish like that. It revived my faith in artists a bit. That changed me quite a bit and I still try to be like that now.
SCB: What artists in particular have influenced you?
EV: At the time of Manifesta, the artist that influenced me most was Beuys, definitely. The whole event of Manifesta and Dokumenta made a real impression on me, as these shows are the core of the contemporary art world in Europe. Maurizio Cattelan was very interesting for me too: he is a very good businessman, with good ideas. I saw a lot of his work, although I didn’t necessarily want to work like that. For me, Beuys was like Jimi Hendrix with the guitar: Hendrix is hugely popular here in Sarajevo. The artist that I take the most from in this city is Jusuf. After manifesta and dokumenta, I started to travel a lot and to make shows in a lot of different places. Because I was travelling so much, I lost my right to continue at the Academy, so I went off to Belfast for a residency; from one troubled city to another…
SCB: How did your time in Belfast go?
EV: I was there for six months. I was based at the FLEX artist’s studios; the best artists in the city had spaces there. One of them was the famous professor Alistair Mackenna; he wanted to meet me and invited me for tea, and I showed him all my work. He was surprised that someone of my age had so much exhibiting experience already. He invited me to come as a guest instructor at Ulster University for five days which was a really valuable experience, and I was able to buy a camera with the money.
SCB: What are your views on the development of the art scene in Sarajevo?
EV: It has been a bit stop start. Immediately after the war, a lot of organisations were giving money for contemporary art: organisations such as SOROS, then Pro Helvetia, then the French Cultural Centre. Today, it is not like that at all, and there is very little money for contemporary art. Back then we had fewer artist and more money: now we have more artists, and less money. But we can manage as people are now much more connected to the wider world through the internet.
The post war generations of artists from Sarajevo have been very good: firstly you had people like Daniel Premec, Soba, Damir Niksic, Sejla Kameric; now there is a very strong younger generation; I guess people like myself and Emir Kapetanoivic are somewhere in between the two.
I think that there is also a very strong scene in Banja Luka. Suddenly, they have a contemporary art museum, and four or five artists with international profiles. The same kind of thing happened in Pristina in the last few years; in the last decade ten or so good artists have come from there. I think that Banja Luka and Pristina are quite comparable. There is a lot of interest in contemporary art in both cities, and people give money for it. For example, Jusuf had his one man show in Banja Luka last year and it was probably his best, very professionally done, and with a very good monograph associated with the show.
The trouble is that in Sarajevo there are very few spaces at present for contemporary art. Many spaces have closed. if this trend continues, then no one will want to do contemporary art here, and they will see it as dying in the city. More talented people will go in the direction of film and cinema rather than contemporary art. If it continues like this, then there won’t be so many good artists from here, and that will be a catastrophe for the city. Talented young artists from here will have less opportunity to express themselves. It is great that we have Pierre Courtin and Jusuf here. Pierre works really hard and supports Bosnian artists. But his gallery is one of only three contemporary galleries in the city the others are Jawa and Carlama. The National Gallery has no criteria for exhibitions any more; it no longer has any criteria other than payment. So, I could have my wedding there, as long as I paid. As a result, it is not really a National Gallery anymore.
SCB: What are your plans for next year?
EV: I am part of a festival of contemporary art in Split on the tenth of January, I am exhibiting my “Netertva Autoportret” paintings there. I wanted to show these paintings in both BiH and Croatia. It really is a looming ecological catastrophe on the Neretva. The changes mean that people can’t now grow food in Herzegovina. The lake there is drying out and many species of rare bird are under threat. It is an issue that bridges both countries and is not a nationalist issue but an environmental one. They are making a new dam next to the one that already exists, and the disaster will be multiplied many times.
This current project is my foirst exhbitions of paintings for fifteen years. I have a lot of unexhibited paintings at home, and I want to produce new ones again, and show them. My next series of paintings will continue on a similar theme. I want, like the Sufis, to put myself between nature and art; to remove the ego and the self from the whole process, and let nature and art come together. I will choose the right colour of grey, and leave the works in the rain, and let the rain finish the painting. It is important to know when to remove the paintings, for, if they are left too long in the rain, the images will be just white. The series will be called Ten Days of Rain and will be exhibited all together.
Thanks to Edo for his time.
IRA SKOPLJAK INTERVJU
SCB: Lijep pozdrav! Za početak nam se, molim te, ukratko predstavi.
I: Ja sam Ira Skopljak. Rođena sam u Sarajevu. Završila sam srednju školu primjenjenih umjetnosti kod profesorice Nađe Haljevac, odsjek tekstilni dizajn. Nakon toga sam upisala Likovnu akademiju u Sarajevu, odsjek nastavnički, kod profesora Radoslava Tadića, potom diplomirala slikarstvo kod istog profesora. Sada sam upisala prvu godinu master studija, također na sarajevskoj akademiji.
SCB: Kakva je, prema tvom mišljenju, budućnost mladih umjetnika koji završe akademiju? Postoje li ikakve mogućnosti zapošljavanja i kakvo je tvoje iskustvo po tom pitanju?
I: Što se tiče zapošljavanja, mnogi studenti smatraju da ne mogu naći nikakav posao. S obzirom da ni s pravom ili ekonomijom također ne možete naći posao, a što se tiče umjetnosti još manje. Ipak, ljudi se snalaze. Moj prijatelj tako ima kući atelje, slika i prodaje te slike. Dosta ljudi koji su završili nastavnički odsjek, koji je prema mom mišljenju najbolji, sada rade kao nastavnici ili kao profesori u osnovnim školama, gimnazijama… Sve zavisi kako se ko snađe i kakve rezulate pokaže. Ja ne bih da crnim ovu našu zemlju. Mnogi idu vani da rade, ali se opet na neki način vraćaju i bore. Ja mislim da mi mladi trebamo da ostanemo ovdje i da se borimo za kulturu, za umjetnost. Dobro je vidjeti da se pojedini studenti uključuju u borbu protiv zatvaranja muzeja, kao što su ovi mladi umjetnici koji crtaju na cesti, ne znam jeste li vidjeli? Ima dakle borbe, nije sve tako crno kao što izgleda. Ja volim svoju zemlju i drago mi je što postoje mladi ljudi koji izlažu na svjetskim bijenalima, studiraju u inostranstvu. Ima nade, ali treba raditi.
SCB: Ira, kakvo je tvoje iskustvo s inostranstvom?
I: Kao studenti smo išli u Italiju gdje smo 13 dana radili mozaike, ljetna škola mozaika. Naravno, obilazili smo likovne kolonije na prostorima bivše Jugoslavije. Na festivalu u Engleskoj smo kolegica i ja izlagale dva rada. Jako je lijepo iskustvo, upoznale smo dosta mladih ljudi jer nije bila u pitanju samo vizalna umjetnost, već i muzika, performansi, video instalacije, sve što ima veze s umjetnošću.
SCB: Jesi li ti zadovoljna načinom na koji su mladi ljudi danas međusobno uvezani?
I: Nisam toliko. Kad vidim kako se starije generacije naših profesora druže sa kolegama koji se bave drugim umjetnostima (književnici, muzičari, glumci), bude mi žao što to nije prisutno kod mlađih generacija. Pa tako ja na primjer uopće ne znam mlade ljude koji rade na akademiji scenskih umjetnosti. Iako to pratim, ne družim se s njima, mada bih voljela. Bilo bi dobro da se družimo, da se uspostavi jedan kružni tok između
muzičara, glumaca, likovnjaka. Voljela bih da se malo više uvežemo i da zajedno funkcionišemo.
SCB: Da li ti primjećuješ ikakvu inicijativu kod mladih ljudi, budući da sada djeluješ i s druge strane katedre (Ira je sada asistent na Akademiji likovnih umjetnosti)?
I: Pa kod studenata vidim da ima interesa. Mi njima pokušavamo uliti nadu kako ne bi odustali od akademije i umjetnosti. Najlakše je reći da nema posla, ali se uvijek može nešto raditi. Može se praviti nakit, može se nešto dizajnirati. Studenti se bore, kupuju sami materijal. Trebamo uživati, mladi smo, ali trebamo i raditi!
SCB: Ira, pričaj mi o svojoj umjetnosti? Koji ti je medij najdraži?
I: Moj diplomski rad je bio vezan za mozaike, freske. Dosta sam kombinirala. Međutim, zanima me slikarstvo općenito, ali i crtež koji mi je najdraži. Volim dosta stvari. Volim da eksperimentišem.
SCB: Koja je tematika tvojih radova? Odakle potiče tvoja stvaralačka snaga?
I: Moji prijatelji i ja dosta putujemo, pravimo razne izlete: na planine, na jezera. Dosta toga smo obišli. Pod uticajem prijatelja i prirode ja stvaram svoja djela. Linije stvaram pod uticajem onog što vidim, paukove mreže, povezujem s čipkom, s heklanjem, s priglavcima. Kad putujem, kad vidim prelijepe kućice, osjetim kajmak, na piti vidim linije, povezujem stvari.
SCB: To dakle za tebe ima i emotivni ali i socijalni angažman jer uvijek uključuješ nešto što je autohtono, pa to onda obojiš vlastitim senzibilitetom?
I: Pa da. Ali to je sve nekako vezano za ljude, za moje prijatelje i energiju koju oni oko mene proizvode. I naravno putovanja.
SCB: Kako putovanja utiču na tvoj rad?
I: Pa to je prije svega promjena. Ja dosta pažnje posvećujem detaljima. Vidim jako puno detalja. To nije tipično mahalanje, već dječije zanimanje za stvari i detalje. Život doživljavam intenzivno. Fino mi je živjeti ga.
SCB: Koji su tvoji likovni uzori? Da li si na sebi primijetila promjene od početka studija do danas?
I: Ja sam uvijek zato da krenemo od domaćih umjetnika jer je važno poznavati ono što se ovdje radi. Mnogo cijenim svog profesora Tadića. Tu su Mica Todorović, Nada Pivac. Boro Aleksić je odličan grafičar i crtač. Interesantna mi je i Amela Hadžimejlić Kečo. Oduševljena sam nekim njenim radovima. Na svjetskoj umjetničkoj sceni najdraži su mi
impresionisti. Beatriz Milhazes je brazilska umjetnica. Tu je i Klimt. Tražim uvijek nešto provokativno.
SCB: Iako otrcano pitanje, ali ipak ne mogu odoljeti: Kada si odlučila da ćeš se baviti umjetnošću?
I: Iako svi kažu da se bave od malih nogu, u mom slučaju je to malo drugačije, jer sam ja stvarno nekako odrasla u ateljeu. Pa krenulo je to ozbiljno od srednje škole, mada sam i prije crtala i ukrašavala teke s prijateljicom. (smijeh)
SCB: Budući da je tvoj otac poznati bosanskohercegovački umjetnik, da li ti je bilo bilo teže ili lakše da pronađeš vlastiti likovni izraz?
I: Mnogi me to pitaju. Ja samo imam prezime Skopljak, a moj otac radi drugačije od mene, mi smo dva različita svijeta, on je Mustafa, a ja sam Ira. Mada se razumijemo: ja njemu pokažem svoj rad i on meni svoj, pa onda razmijenimo mišljenja. Dosta se nadopunjavamo. Meni bliski ljudi to jako dobro znaju.
SCB: Koliko si upoznata sa svjetskim umjetničkim tendencijama i koliko se trudiš da ih pratiš?
I: Pa iskreno ne. Ja dosta radim po osjećaju. Mogu pratiti, i gledati, i dolaziti do određenih ideja, istraživati, ali se trudim da uradim stvari onako kako osjećam.
SCB: Ira, hvala! Mnogo sreće ti želimo!
INTERVIEW WITH IRA SKOPLJAK
SCB: Greetings! Can you please briefly introduce yourself?
I: I’m Ira Skopljak. I was born in Sarajevo. I completed the School of Fine Arts at Prof. Nađa Haljevac, department of textile design. After that, I enrolled in the Fine Arts Academy in Sarajevo, department of teaching, with Professor Radoslav Tadic, then graduated painting at the same professor. Now I’m enrolled in the first year of master studies, also at the Sarajevo Academy.
SCB: In your opinion what is the future of the young artists who complete the academy? Are there any job opportunities and what’s your experience in this regard?
I: As for employment, many students feel that they can not find any work. Given that neither the law or economics also can not find a job, and as far as the arts are even smaller. However, people are coping. My friend has a home studio, he paints and sells those pictures. Many people who have completed teaching department, which is in my
opinion the best, are now working as teachers in elementary schools, high schools … It all depends on what you like and what befalls the results show. I would not like to say bad things about our land. Many of us go out to work, but again, in a way, they come back and fight. I think we need young people to stay here and fight for culture, the arts. It is good to see that some students are involved in the fight against the closure of the museums, as these young artists who draw on the road, I do not know if you’ve seen? So there fighting, not all is bad as it looks. I love my country and I’m glad there are young people who are exposing on global biennials, studying abroad. There is hope, but we have to work hard.
SCB: Ira, what’s your experience with working and studying abroad?
I: As students we went to Italy, where we have 13 days doing mosaics, summer school of mosaic. Of course, we went to some art colonys in the former Yugoslavia. At the art festival in England one colleague of mine and I exhibited two works. It was a very nice experience, we met a lot of young people because it was not only a matter of visul arts, but also music, performance, video, installation, all related with art.
SCB: Are you satisfied with the way the young people today are bound to each other?
I: Not so much. When I see how older generations of our teachers socialize with peers who engage in the arts (writers, musicians, actors) I feel sorry that this is not present between younger generations. So for example, I do not even know the young people who work at the Academy of Performing Arts. Although I m interested, I do not hang out with them, although I would like to. It would be good to socialize, to establish a circular flow between the musicians, actors, visual artists. I’d like to be a little more binding and that all of us function together.
SCB: Do you notice any initiative coming from young people, since you now work from other side of the desk (Ira is now an assistant at the Academy of Fine Arts)?
I: I see that there is an interest coming from students. We try to instill them the hope so that thay would not give up academia and the arts. The easiest way is to say that there are no jobs, but we can always do something. Jewelry can be made, it may be something to design. Students are struggling, buying tools by themselves. We should enjoy life because we’re young, but we need to work also!
SCB: Ira, tell me about your art? Which is your favorite medium?
I: My graduate work was related to the mosaics, frescoes. I have been combining a lot. However, I am interested in art and painting in general, but drawing is my favorite. I love a lot of things. I love to experiment.
SCB: What is the theme of your works? Where does your creative power come from?
I: My friends and I travel a lot, we make various trips: the mountains, the lakes. We have visited a lot of things. Under the influence of the nature, of my friends I create my works. Line created under the influence of what I see, a spider web, I am bringing with lace, with crocheting, with priglavci (it is a type of tradicional footwear). When I travel, I see beautiful small homes, I feel the cream, the lines formed from pie, I am bringing stuff.
SCB: Is it besides emotional, some social engagement because you always include something that is indigenous, and you paint everything with your own sensibility?
I: Yeah. But this is all somehow related to people, and my friends and energy they produce around me. And of course, travel.
SCB: How does your travels affect your work?
I: Well, primarily it means changes. I do dedicate a lot of attention to detail. I see a lot of details. This is not typical gossip, but rather children’s interest in things and details. I m experiencing life intensely. It is good to live.
SCB: What are your artistic role models? Have you noticed the changes on yourself from the beginnings to the present?
I: I am always comitted to idea to go from local artists because it is important to know what is going on here. I appreciate my professor Tadic very much. There are Mica Todorovic, Nada Pivac. Boro Aleksic is a great draftsman and printmaker. The work of Amela Hadžimejlić Keco is also interesting to me. I am delighted by some of her works. On the world art scene, my favorite are the impressionists. Beatriz Milhazes is a Brazilian artist. There is a Klimt. I m always seeking for something provocative.
SCB: Although corny question, but I can not resist: When did you decide that you’re going to be doing art?
I: Although everyone says it, it is engaged from an early age, in my case it’s a little different because I’m actually kinda grew up in the studio. So this become seriously since high school, although I drew and decorated before some of mine exercise books with my friend. (Laughs)
SCB: Because your father is a famous Bosnian artist, whether it’s any harder or easier for you to find your own artistic expression?
And: Many people ask me that. I just have a surname Skopljak, and my father is doing differently than me, we are two different worlds, he is Mustafa and I’m Ira. Although we understandeach other: I show him my work and he shows me some of his own, and
then we exchange opinions. We complement each other. People close to me know that very well.
SCB: How familiar are you with international artistic tendencies and how much do you try to follow them?
I: Well honestly, I do not. I’m doing a lot by my feel. I can track and watch, and come up with certain ideas, I can explore, but I’m trying to do things the way I feel.
SCB: Ira, thank you! I wish you the best of luck!
Veso Sovilj – Intervju
SCB: Kakvo je Vaše viđenje umjetničke scene i kulture u Banjaluci sada? Šta se dešava?
V: Ja sam tu došao po osnivanju Akademije. Tu sam maltene ja bio sam i sad sam odnjegovao generacije. Mladen Miljanović je moj najbrilijantniji student, (mada nije on jedini, ima ih još: na primjer Radenko Milak), tako da nas ima. Kada je u pitanju likovna umjetnost formira se neka scena. Sigurno je da se bitno promijenilo.
SCB: Banjaluka imala važnu ulogu kada je u pitanju bosanskohercegovačka umjetnička scena kroz historiju.
V: Kako ne… Banja Luka je imala veliku ulogu u periodu te, uslovno nazvane, nove umetnost. Ja sam odrastao u Beogradu. Ipak je trebalo upotpuniti te praznine, da ne govorim o ratnim godinama. Čisto ’70te godine, 80te, sve je to nešto mimoišlo Banjaluku. U njoj je bilo jako značajnih umjetnika, taj Oktobarski salon je bio vrlo bitan. Nije Banja Luka baš bez tradicije, kao što je recimo, mada se tu možda malo preteruje, Prijedor. Ali evo ja sam iz Prijedora, dosta ljudi na Akademiji su iz Prijedora… Prijedorizacija Banjaluke (smijeh). Što se tiče savremene umjetnosti još uvijek je sve u začecima. Umjetnik više djeluje vani nego u vlastitom gradu. Te institucije i njihova otvorenost, to je veliki problem, pa i većih sredina… i u Sarajevu je isti problem.
SCB: Maloprije smo razgovarali sa Mladenom Miljanovićem upravo o tome da dugo nije imao izložbu u Banjaluci. Više izložbi je imao u drugim gradovima u BiH, kao i izvan regiona. Šta mislite o tome i o umjetnicima u našem regionu, na koji način bi oni sami trebali djelovati i raditi da bi se scena promijenila?
V: Postoje jake individualnosti kao što je Mladen. Naravno nije on jedini. Ima pokušaja kao što su grupa Protok, grupa Tač.ka. Vitalno je, u smislu koncepcije i budućnosti djelovanja izvan lokalnih stuktura. Čini mi se da se te ideje brzo razvodne. Naprave se večeri otvaranja, izložbe, projekcije i na kraju bude po principu: tresla se gora rodio se miš. Mada je i u tom obliku to značajno. Te mlade umjetnike, ja ih u početku savjetujem da djeluju kao grupa. Treba djelovati kao grupa, jer je lakše djelovati kao grupa. Kad se pojavite sami… pogotovo ta birokratija, te ogromne strukture, počevši od ministarstva, kad bi vidjeli ko su ljudi… mislim svaka čast, i to se bitno mijenja, zato ovi mlađi, trebaju, moraju… Dugo godina sam bio sam, ali već sad nisam sam. Odnjegovao sam dvije tri generacije.
SCB: Šta biste jos izdvojili na našem prostoru, s obzirom na situaciju, kao vaš favorit? Postoji li nešto gdje vidite budućnost?
V: Trenutno ne vidim naročitu mogućnost. Ne vjerujem u sistemska rešenja, jer država i okruženje nemaju jasnu kulturnu politiku. Kako kaže Bonito-Oliva:
‘Umetnik je optimista i pesimista, stoik’. To održava poziciju, umetnik je egzistencijalno čudo. Ja imam sreću da sam zaposlen u školi, u instituciji. Ali mlađi umetnici…ne znam…moraju imati više reakcija.
SCB: Radite sa mladim umjetnicima. Kao što ste i rekli u poziciji ste u kojoj pripadate starijim generacijama, a u ovom momentu radite sa mladima. Šta im pružate?
V: Berkson kaže: “dobar pedagog je koji podučavajući druge biva i sam podučen.” Tako i ja crpim tu energiju, kreativnu, od mladih ljudi. Ja sam tu da ih ohrabrim, da ne lutaju, po mogućnosti što pre da se udjenu, da se bave problemima. Ja vodim starije godine kao iskusniji pedagog. Moj metod se pokazao dobro. Ne gušim individulnost, naprotiv. Ja se tu mnogo trošim, kao kreda na tabli. Nije lako biti pedagog. Nastava je interaktivan proces. Kulturološki kontekst, ovo što ste ranije pitali… tu bude neki zamah i odjednom se razvodni, i onda opet…Ja se povlačim u svoj prostor, duhovni jer nemam fizički prostor, trenutno tražim kuću ili stan. Nemam auto, moram negdje bliže stanovati. Sve su to problemi, ali…
SCB: Spomenuli ste Mladena Miljanovića nekoliko puta i njegov rad Da li namjeravate da me lažete. Koliko mi je poznato, niste znali da će on da izvede vaše hapšenje. Možete li mi reći nešto o tom iskustvu?
V: Mnogi misle da sam znao, stvarno nisam. Znao je gazda lokala, Slobodan. Ja nisam. Gazda je mene uspeo zadžati dok se ne pojave specijalci, stvarno nisam znao. Taj faktor iznenađenja, da sam znao, ne bi bilo baš tako – ne bi imalo autentičnost… ne autentičnost, ličilo bi na glumu. Ne znam baš koliko je to bitno .
SCB: Njemu je bilo vjerovatno bitno čim je odlučio da je vrijedno da vas izloži jednom takvom stresu.
V: Naravno, on je poznavajući mene znao je da se ja neću naljutiti, pripadam tom korpusu avangarde. Ne avangardnom, umjetnost prava je uvijek bila avangardna. Znajući moj život, biografiju, izvornu i likovnu, ta brutalnost…. Život je uvijek brutalan, dovoljno je da smo preživjeli ovaj rat. Jer umjetnici su bili najveće žrtve rata, oni su najsenzibilniji. Tako da je to potuno opravdano, hvala bogu nisam se naljutio.
SCB: Pitanja koja Vam je postavio vezano za umjetnost na detektoru laži su pitanja koja se ne mogu odgovoriti sa da ili ne.
V: Upravo, taj dio filma, to je moja ideja koju nisam realizovao. Ja sam hteo da se podvrgnem detektoru, i ne samo ja, razgovarao sam sa dosta umjetnika. Nisam znao da detektor laži, odnosno poligraf, da tako funkcioniše. Ja sam mislio da razgovaraš sa isljednikom. Međutim, nemoguće je. Na primjer, da su mi postavili pitanje kako sam ja zamislio, ja bih recimo neku radnu varijantu pre imao. Na primjer, pita te: Umjetnik? – Ja kažem: da. Šta vi podrazumijevate pod
umjetnošću? Recimo ja kažem… pozvao bih se na nekog filozofa, malo bih se igrao, ali to da i ne, to je jedna surovija metoda.
SCB: Odgovor izgleda kao da vam je nametnut.
V: Ta pitanja je Mladen smislio, znajući moju biografiju. Ona su dio njegove kreativnosti. Trideset godina rada nije baš bilo primećeno tako da, mada ja nisam takav čovjek da se ekponiram, namećem, bilo bi red da se napravi neka brošura, makar knjiga, katalog obimniji. Ne monografija, ja sam još mlad za monografiju.
SCB: Možete li nam reći nešto više o vašem djelu Umjetnost Bosne i Hercegovine je u granicama Bosne i Hercegovine?
V: Posle sam napravio jednu izložbu u Kulturnom centru ‘Banski dvor’ koja se zvala Izloacija, gdje sam bukvalno koristio izolacione trake. Ali to je jedna više dosjetka, nego što je bilo suštinska. Suštinska izolacija… evo u jednom vremenu nismo bili nigdje, a sad imamo bezvizni režim. Bukvalno smo napravili taj jedan prostor, ali pojedinci nisu. Ja sam djelovao pojedinačno. To se vidi i na primjeru Venecijanskog bijenala, ne možemo otići na Bijenale. Uvek smo izolovani ma koliko individualno djeluju umjetnici Sarajeva, umjetnici koje smo nabrajali: djeluje Jusuf, djeluje Mladen, povremeno i ja, mada sam više inertan, al’ dobro.
J: Da li mislite da je za Vašu generaciju od velike važnostI problem komparacije slobode putovanja koja je postojala u bivšoj Jugoslaviji sa viznim režimom koji se desio nakon rata?
V: To je kompleksan problem. Na primjer, iz Sarajeva kada sam otišao u Beograd da nastavim studije, tamo je postojala jedna značajna institucija, tadašnji Studentski kulturni centar. Dunja Blažević je tu bila prva direktorica. To je bila jedna mala oaza umjetnosti, tu je dolazili nekoliko svjetskih umjetnika, na primjer Beuys je dolazio. To se sada bitno promijenilo. Nedavno sam bio u SKC i ja tamo nista nisam prepoznao. Lokalne izložbe se prave, nekada je to bilo mnogo otvorenije, veće otvorenije mogućnosti, a sada je zatvoreno. Kao što je umjetnost mentalno područje, tako i način na koji funkcioniše treba da bude. Skučeno je. Ljudi koji vode institucije, ipak su postavljeni… Ne možeš biti direktor Muzeja savremene umjetnosti ako si postavljen od strane političke strukture. Nema sistema, nema sistemskog rješenja, kulturne politike.
SCB: Vrijeme kada ste Vi studirali u Beogradu je bilo izrazito interesantno. U to vrijeme su tamo bili i Marina Abramović i Raša Todosijević, to je vrijeme Nove objektivnosti i Miška Šuvakovića. Kakva je bila intelektualna klima tog vremena, u ranim 80im?
V: Da, jesam i veliki smo prijatelji. To su umjetnici koji su stasali u Kulturnom centru. Družili smo se. Nije bilo represije. Bila je jedna oaza u kojoj smo mi mogli da djelujemo. Nije bilo represije. Marina je rano otišla u Holandiju. Ali umjetnici kao što je Raša Todosijević, Nešo Paripović, oni jednostavno nisu mogli da nađu posao, nije bilo šanse da se zaposle na Akademiji. Akademiju su držali tradicionalni umjetnici. Ali evo sada se bitno popravilo. Bilo je nezamislivo da ja
budem profesor, ili Mladen kojeg sam ja odnjegovao. U to vrijeme niko nas nije dirao. Ja sam morao da se vratim, ali niste mogli da… evo recimo Raša je jedno vrijeme morao da se bavi proizvodnjom stolnih lampi, mada je iz dobrostojeće porodice. Njegov otac je ljekar, supruga Marina Kožar je generalova kćerka.
SCB: Moja najdraža fotografija Marine je kada je bila mala, na Kalamegdanu sa ocem, pukovnikom Abramović u partizanskoj uniformi, kada je imala 4 ili 5 godina.
V: Marina je diplomirala na Akademiji u Beogradu na slikarstvu. To me iznenadilo, ali u stvari poslije nije, vidio sam koliko je Akademija bila tradicionalna. Slika se zove Žena reka, nadrealizam provincijalni. Kažnjavali su nas samo tako da su nam dali manje ocjene, nerado su nas primali na postdiplomski studij. Nekako smo izdržali.
SCB: Moje mišljenje je da je Marina malo kao Mondrian. Tokom ‘50ih Mondrian je slikao cvijeće i prodavao da bi mogao da preživi, isto kao što je ona na Akademiji slikala prije nego je počela raditi performanse za koje su svi znali.
V: Ne ne ne… Nije mogla da diplomira sa performansom. To je danas kod mene recimo moguće, tako da je morala. Profesor je nametao stav, iako je njen profesor Petrović početkom ‘50tih bio isto na neki način likovni disident. Bavio se enformelom, ali tim jednim provincijalnim enformelom – upotreba materijala kao u enfomrelu, ali su ipak komponovali. Ja sam pokojnom Petroviću rekao da on ne bi smeo da nas tako proganja, mada nisu oni nas izbacivali. Rekao sam mu: “vi ste bili avangardni, ne možete biti sada tradicionalni.” Ja ne znam šta bi se moglo desiti da ja kao avangardan umjetnik ne prepoznam nove vrijednosti vremena, i da budem taj profesionalni kočničar. To je nemoguće.
SCB: Kada ste bili student, kakav je bio program? Da li je to bio socijalni modernizam ili je taj način rada bio samo ohrabrivan, a mogli ste raditi šta ste htjeli?
V: Pa program je bio tradicionalan, zasnovan na klasičnim školama, na onim sa Akademije iz Francuske iz 17 st., klasične studije. Dobro, već na trećoj, četvrtoj, petoj godini… bilo je teško objasniti te ljude, kao da su se plašili promjena. Zaposjednu svoju poziciju i… U Beogradu je bio taj građanski intimizam ‘30tih godina, tako da je bilo dosta umjetnika koji su se školovali u Parizu između dva rat… donešen je taj duh ali opet… to ide ciklično.
SCB: Dok nisu ustanovljene Akademije, pogotovo u Sarajevu, gdje je Akademija osnovana 1972., umjetnici su se školovali u različitim školama Prag, Beč, Pariz. Koliko je različita škola utjecala na njih?
V: Donosili su novi duh, ali sredina ih nije prihvatala. Zanimljiv je slučaj Petra Lubarde. On nije bio prihvaćen jedno vrijeme. Međutim, u jednom trenutku bio je Samit Nesvrstanih i i onda njemu daju sve moguće privilegije, imao je oficira koji ga je maltene čuvao, da bi se pokazalo da Jugoslavija nije zatvorena. Ali on je
bio pojedinac koji je imao tu privilegiju, da radi tako iz tog soc-realizma. Vrlo zanimljiva priča koju sam tek skoro pročitao .
SCB: Bivša Jugoslavija je mudro iskoristila svoje umjetnike, na primjer Marinu i Rašu. Dala im je priliku da djeluju vani i da idu tamo i da budu reprezentativni, a unutar granica konteksta soc-realizma je samo takvim umjetnicima davala priliku da budu veliki.
V: Na primer, ja sam se bavio problemom umetnost-politika-ideologija. Sad, na primer, meni je jako zanimljiv taj soc-realizam u ovom historijskom i društvenom kontekstu. Ali pozicija – te slike i skulpture kao da su se samoestetizovale, kao da su dobile drugo značenje. Posmatramo ih na drugi način, drugom optikom.
SCB: Interesantno je da ima dosta paralele između socijalizma i modernizma ‘50ih, Exat 51, Miodrag Protić, sa engleskim modernizmom tih godina, umjetnici kao Peter Lanyon i Adrian Heath. Ideološki kontekst je drugačiji ali formalni rezultat isti.
V: Kao i nac-realizam, isti likovni jezik (smijeh).
Kod umjetnika koje smo maloprije nabrojali, kad je pritisak na duh, on se oslobađa. Reakcija je jača. Da nije bilo soc-realizma i Tita, možda ni bi bilo ni modernizma, ni reakcije na to. Mada način na koji danas funkcioniše umjetnost, na Balkanu, po meni je još uvijek soc-realistička. Maloprije sam prisluškivao što ste rekli da i mala galerija treba da funkcioniše kao muzej.
Veso Sovilj – Interview
SCB: What is your vision of the art scene and culture in Banja Luka now? What’s going on?
V: I came here after the founding of the Academy. I’m here and I was virtually and now I cultivated some generations. Miljanovic is my most brilliant student, (although he’s not the only one, there’s more: for example Radenko Milak), so there is a few of us. When it comes to visual arts a sort of scene is forming. It is certain that things are being substantially changed.
SCB: Banja Luka played an important role when it comes to Bosnia’s art scene through history.
V: Sure thing … Banja Luka had a big role in the period of, conditionally called, new art. I grew up in Belgrade. Yet it took me to complete these gaps, not to speak about the war years. Period of ’70te year 80te, all this is somehow passed over Banja Luka. Banja Luka had a very important artists, this October Salon was very important. Banja Luka is not entirely without tradition, as example, although there might exaggerate a bit, Prijedor. But I am from Prijedor, a lot of people at the Academy were from Prijedor … The “prijedorisation” of Banja Luka (laughs). As far as contemporary art we are still in its infancy. The artist appears more out there than in their own city. These institutions and their openness, it is a big problem, and in even larger communities … Sarajevo has the same problem.
SCB: We have just spoked with Miljanovic about how long time passed before he had an exhibition in Banja Luka. He had several exhibitions in other cities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as outside the region. What do you think about this and about artists in our region, how should they work in order to change our art scene?
V: There are a few strong individuality as Mladen. Of course he’s not the only one. There have been attempts, such as group Protok, the group Tač.ka. It is vital, in terms of concept and future action beyond local structure. It seems to me that these ideas quickly switchboards. People make the evening opening, exhibitions, and at the end everything is based on the principle: highlands were shaking, mouse is born. Although even this form is considerably. These young artists, I advise them to start to act as a group. They should act as a group, because it is easier to act as a group. When you show yourself alone… especially the bureaucracy, and the huge structure, starting from the ministry, when they would see who the people are … I think that this also changes drastically, that is way these young should, must… For many years I was alone, but now on, I’m not. I cultivated two or three generations.
SCB: What else would you emphasize as your favorite regarding this areas situation? Is there something where you see our future?
V: Currently I do not see a particular option. I do not believe in the system solutions, because the state and the environment do not have a clear cultural
policy. As Bonito-Oliva says: ‘The artist is an optimist and a pessimist, stoic’. It maintains the position, the artist is an existential wonder. I got lucky that I work in the school, in the institution. But younger artists … I do not know … they need more responses.
SCB: You are working with young artists. As you say, you are in a position in which you belong to the older generations, but at this moment working with youth. What do you provide to them?
V: Berkson says “good teacher is who by teaching the others happens to be taught.” So I draw this energy, creative, from young people. I’m there to encourage them, so they do not roam, that they thread preferably as soon as possible, to deal with problems. I’m spending older years as a senior counselor. My method is demonstrated well. I’m not choking individuality, on the contrary. I’m spending a lot of myself, like chalk on the blackboard. It is not easy to be a teacher. Teaching is an interactive process. Cultural context, what you previously wondered … There is some momentum and suddenly switched, and then again … I’m pulling into my space, spiritual because I do not have a physical space, currently I’m looking for a house or apartment. I have no car, I have to live somewhere closer. All the problems, but …
SCB: You have mentioned Miljanovic several times and his work Do you intend to lie to me. As far as I know, you did not know that he was going to pull your arrest. Can you tell me more about that experience?
V: Many people think that I knew, I really did not. The boss of the bars knew, Slobodan. I did not. The boss managed to keep me there until specialists appeared, I really did not know. The element of surprise, if I knew that it would not be quite so – there would be no authenticity … not authenticity, it would look much like the acting. I do not know how that exactly matters.
SCB: It was probably important to him when he decided it was worth to expose you to such stress.
V: Of course, he knew me and know that I will not get angry, I belong to the body of the avant-garde. Not avant-garde, real art has always been the avant-garde. Knowing my life, biography, and original art, this brutality …. Life is brutal, it is enough that that we have survived the war. Because the artists were the biggest victims of the war, they have the most sensibility. So this is a fully justified, thank god I did not get angry.
SCB: The issues regarding art that he raised during the lie detector investigation are questions that can not be answered with yes or no.
V: Right, that part of the film, it was my idea that I did not realize. I wanted to submit to the detector, and not just me, I’ve talked to a lot of artists. I did not know that lie detector, or polygraph, work like that. I thought that you talki to the investigator. However, it is impossible. For example, if they asked me the question how I imagined it would be, I would have some sort of working version. For example, he asks you: The artist? – I say: yes. What do you mean
by art? I would say… I would called on a philosopher, I would played a little, but this yer of no thing, it’s one more brutal method.
SCB: The answer looks like they were being imposed.
V: These questions Mladen devised, knowing my biography. They are part of his creativity. Thirty years of work was not well observed so that, although I am not such a man willing to be exposed, imposed, it would be time to make a brochure, even books, more extensive catalog. Not monograph, I am still young for the monograph.
SCB: Can you tell us more about your work Art of Bosnia and Herzegovina is within the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina?
V: After I made an exhibition at the Cultural Center ‘Banski dvor’ named Izloacija, where I literally used insulating tape. But it’s more like a pun, then it was essential. Intrinsic isolation … here in one one time we were nowhere, and now we have a visa-free regime. Literally we made this one area, but individuals did not. I acted individually. This can be seen in the example of the Venice Biennale, one can not go to the Biennial. We are always isolated no matter how individual artist of Sarajevo act, artists that we deliberately enumerated: Yusuf acts, acts Mladen, occasionally I do, although I am more inert, but well.
J: Do you think that of great importance to your generation is the problem of comparing freedom of travel that existed in the former Yugoslavia with the visa regime that occurred after the war?
V: This is a complex problem. For example, when I went from Sarajevo to Belgrade to continue studies, there was an important institution, the Student Cultural Center. Dunja Blazevic was the first director there. It was a small oasis of art, there were coming a few international artists, Beuys for example was coming. That has now changed considerably. Recently I was in SKC and I did not recognize anything there. Local shows are made, it used to be much more open, bigger and more open possibilities, and is now closed. The same sa as art is a mental erea, the way in which it funcions should be. It is cramped. The people who run the institution, however, are set … One can not be a director of the Museum of Modern Art when is appointed by the political structure. There is no system, no systemic solutions, no cultural policy.
SCB: The time you spend studying in Belgrade was very interesting. At that time there were Marina Abramovic and Raša Todosijević, it is time New Objectivity and of Miška Šuvaković. What was the intellectual climate of that time, in the early 80’s?
V: Yes, I’m and we are great friends. These are artists who have emerged in the Cultural Center. We hung out. There was no repression. It was one oasis where we could operate. There was no repression. Marina went to Holland early. But artists such as Raša Todosijević, Nešo Paripović, they simply could not find a job, there was no way to get a job at the Academy. Academy was
held by the traditional artists. But now things significantly improved. It was inconceivable me to be a teacher, or Mladen whom I cultivated. At that time, no one touched us. I had to come back, but you could not … here is one example with Raša who had to be engaged in the production of table lamps for one period of time, although it is from a wealthy family. His father is a doctor, his wife Marina Kožar is the general’s daughter.
SCB: My favorite Marinas photo is when she was little, standing at Kalamegdan with his father, a colonel Abramovic in partisan uniform, when she was 4 or 5 years.
V: Marina graduated from the Academy in Belgrade on painting. It surprised me, but in fact not after I saw how much the Academy has been traditional. The picture is called River Woman, Surrealism provincial. They were punishing us gaving us less grades, they treated us unwillingly to postgraduate study. We somehow endured.
SCB: My opinion is that Marina is a bit like a Mondrian. During ’50is Mondrian was painting flowers so he could sell it in order to survive, the same way as she was photographed at the Academy before she started working performance that everyone knew.
V: No no no … She was not able to graduate with performance. It is now possible at my class, so she had to. Professor imposed the attitude, although her professor Petrović during ’50 was the same kind of artistic maverick. He dealt with enformel, but one that works as provincial – the use of materials as in enfomrel, but they were composing. I’m told to late Petrovic that he would not dare to haunt us, but they did not discarded us. I told him: “You were the avant-garde, You can not be traditional now.” I do not know what could happen to me as an avant-garde artist did not recognized the new value of time, and to be the professional obstacle. It’s impossible.
SCB: When you were a student, what was the program? Whether it was a social modernism or that mode was only encouraged, but you could do whatever you wanted?
V: Well, the program was traditional, based on the classic schools, those from the Academy of France in the 17th century, classical studies. Well, but on the third, fourth, fifth year … it was difficult to explain these people, as they were afraid of change. They possess thair own position and… There was this civic intimacy preiod during ’30 in Belgrade, so there were a lot of artists who were educated in Paris between the wars … that passed that spirit again … It goes cyclical.
SCB: While we did not determine the Academy, especially in Sarajevo, where the academy founded in 1972., artists were educated in different schools, Prague, Vienna, Paris. How much different schools affected them?
V: They brought a new spirit, but the backgrounds did not accepted them. There is an interesting case of Petar Lubarda. He was not accepted for some time. However, at one point there was the summit of Non-Aligned and he was given all possible privileges, he had an officer who virtually kept him, to show that Yugoslavia is not closed. But he was an individual who had the privilege, to work from that Socialist Realism. Very interesting story I’ve recently read.
SCB: Former Yugoslavia has wisely using the artists, such as Marina and Rašo. Gave them a chance to act out and to go there and to be representative, and within the limits of the context of socialist realism is just giving these artists a chance to be great.
V: For example, I have been dealing with the problem of art-politics-ideology. Now, for example, I find very interesting socialist realism in this historical and social context. But the position – and the paintings and sculptures as if they had thair own aestheticism, as they had been given a different meaning. We watch them in any other way, with other optics.
SCB: It is interesting that there are many parallels between socialism and modernism ’50ih, Exat 51, Miodrag Protic, with English modernism these years, artists such as Peter Lanyon and Adrian Heath. Ideological context is different, but a formal result the same.
V: As nac-realism, the same visual language (laughs).
With artists that we listed earlier, when the pressure is on the spirit, then it is freed. The reaction is stronger. If there was no socialist realism and Tito, maybe there would be no modernism, no reaction to it. Although the way in which art works today, in the Balkans, in my opinion it is still social-realist. I just listened to what you said, and a small gallery should function as a museum.
Aida Salketić and Jon Blackwood
Slobodan Vidović – Intervju
SCB: Ćao Slobodane. Prvo nam reci: gdje smo ovo?
S: Selo se zove Seferovci, Opština Gradiška, 30 km od Banjaluke prema granici sa Hrvatskom. Tu smo na mom ranču.
SCB: Hvala što si nas ugostio. Vidjeli smo unutra tvoj atelje. Ranije smo razgovarali o nezavidnom položaju u kojem se nalazi umjetnost u Banjaluci i u BiH. Međutim, ja uđem u tvoj atelje, u tvoje malo carstvo i odmah sam u jednom svijetu u kojem ima sve što je umjetnosti potrebno. Kako ti uklapaš ovaj svoj ambijent u stvarnost i situaciju u kojoj se umjetnost nalazi?
S: Meni dosta prijatelja ovdje dolazi, dosta umjetnika i inače mojih prijatelja, ne samo iz Banjaluke, već i iz Sarajeva, Beograda, iz inostranstva. Uvijek napravimo neku žurku, manju ili veću. Imam prijatelje umjetnike koji se bave i muzikom, pa i zasviramo ovdje, blues, jazz, rock… i to radimo s vremena na vrijeme. Ja sam pokušao da spojim ugodno i korisno. Već od akademije sam razmišljao o ateljeu. S obzirom da u Banjaluci nemamo ateljea i nikada nismo ni imali, ostala je opcija da u Banjaluci iznajmljujem neki prostor i atelje i da ga plaćam, što naravno nisam mogao. Ovdje dolazim stalno. I kad sam bio klinac stalno sam provodio ovdje vrijeme, 30 km od grada, to nije nešto daleko. Odlučio sam da tu napravim vikend kuću i atelje. Zajedno sam sa roditeljima to planirao i na mojoj drugoj-trećoj godini akademije počeli smo da gradimo i malo po malo stalno smo radili, uređivali. Ja sam u međuvremenu tu stalno dolazio i radio, slikao, tako da mi je sad to sasvim normalno. Meni je kuća ovdje isto kao i u Banjaluci, tako da sam na pola puta stalno.
SCB: Vratiću se kasnije na tvoj djela i ciklus VIP car park i razvoj tog projekta. Spomenuo si Akademiju u Banjaluci, prijatelje umjetnike, manjak atelja. Kakvi su uslovi za mladog umjetnika u Banjaluci? Kakvi su uslovi kada tek počne da radi, da stvara? Kakva je situacija u smislu razmjene informacija, okupljanja, prilika?
S: Pa nije uopšte laka. Iako se grad fizički dosta širi, drugi grad je po veličini u BiH, situacija uopšte nije sjajna. Ja bih se samo malo vratio nazad. Recimo, Banjaluka je imala koliko-toliko tu likovnu tradiciju, ali nikada nije imala neki pozitivan odnos prema umjetnicima. Moram priznati da je sportistima bilo puno bolje, dobro Banjaluka je prije rata imala vrhunski sport i dosta se ulagalo u sport. Umjetnost je nekako uvijek bila na margini, sada pogotovo. Ja ne znam sad tačno, ali znam da Sarajevo ima dosta ateljea, a Banjaluka nikada nije imala ateljee za umjetnike. Čak i alternativni prostori i alternativna mjesta su jako teško dostupna.
SCB: Gdje se okupljaju umjetnici?
S: U Banskom dvoru dok je bila kafana, odnosno restoran, tu su se dosta okupljali, međutim sad to ne postoji. Jedno vrijeme su se okupljali u Klubu umjetnika u Muzeju,
sad i to manje. Mogu reći da ne postoji jedno mjesto gdje se okuplja neki širi krug umjetnika, sve je to više po nekim grupicama. Ima recimo kafe Dijalog, gdje Vesu možete vidjeti svaki dan, i mi tu dođemo. Tu se može naći neka ekipa umjetnika, ali generalno ne postoji, nema neko određeno mjesto, za koje bi rekli da je to to. Danas je sve više postalo fensi, šminka. Jako malo ima tih opuštenijih mjesta.
SCB: Ranije smo imali jedan interesantan razgovor i spomenuo si nam dva prostora. Jedan je u sastavu tvrđave Kastel, a drugi je neka tvornica. Reci mi nešto o ta dva prostora!
S: Da sad ne ispadne da se hvalim, ali oba prostora sam, kako sjedim sa ljudima i razgovaram na kafama, ja pronašao, odnosno ili su pronašli oni mene ili ja njih. Sad ćemo da vidimo šta dalje. Postoji inicijativa za jedan dio jedne hale, to naravno sad zavisi od grada Banjaluka. Grad je kupio taj prostor, to je bivša valjaonica UNIS, tamo planiraju da rade veliki biznis centar. Naravno, kultura i umjetnost tamo nije zamišljena, ali ja sam to predložio, onda sam bio s nekim ljudima koji su nadležni za to i nekima se ideja čak i svidjela. Sad od mene i mojih kolega zavisi hoćemo li mi to sada u septembru krenuti da izguramo, u stvari da napišemo dobar projekat. Ja se nadam da će grad to podržati. Imam već neke signale da će grad to da podrži i ja se nadam da ćemo istrajati u tome da taj prostor dobijemo. To bi bio neki multiprostor u kojem bi bio jedan atelje, odnosno jedan ogroman radni prostor gdje bi ljudi mogli da rade i da možda napravimo godišnje jednu manifestaciju, jednu izložbu.
SCB: Gdje je pozicioniran taj prostor?
S: On je pozicioniran od Banjaluke prema Prijedoru kada se krene magistralnim putem pet kilometara. To je velika bivša fabrika valjanog čelika, tako da je i sam prostor fenomenalan, zanimljiv, izgleda fantastično. Ne treba ništa da se radi, jedino malo sve to da se sredi.
SCB: Kažeš da je pet kilometara izvan Banjaluke. Razmišljajući kao tipična osoba sa Balkana, imam pitanje za tebe: Ko će ići tamo? Šta misliš o tome koliko će ljudi biti zainteresovani, jer ipak treba ti publika?
S: Mi imamo bivši Intel koji je u Boriku, to je baš gradska zona, ili fabrika Čajevac koja je u samom centru, bivša fabrika vojnih uređaja. Ima još nekoliko tih prostora ali ovoj državi nije bilo ni na kraj pameti, nisu mislili ni da sačuvaju te prostore. Baš ti prostori iz socijalističkog perioda, moje mišljenje je da je to jedno kulturno blago koje je trebalo čuvati. Naravno, nikome nije bilo ni na kraj pameti, jer ovdje vladaju zakoni brutalnog kapitalizma, liberalizma, otimačine, tako da današnji bogataši, tajkuni, kupuju sve moguće, isto kao u Rusiji, to je ista priča. Tako da nije bilo šanse. Probali smo nešto za prostore u centru u samoj gradskoj zoni, ali vjerujte da tu nema šanse. Mislim da se tu uklapa priča o kanaderu za gašenje požara. Cijela Bosna i Hercegovina i Hrvatska gori… selo gori a baba se češlja… kod nas ne može da gasi kanader iz Hrvatske zato što neko tamo iz Vlade ili Savjeta ministara nije mogao da napravi komunikaciju ili da napravi dopis, zbog administrativnih stvari. E to smo mi.
SCB: Može se povući paralela. Kompletan odnos prema zajednici je katastrofalan.
S: Nema uopšte odnosa tog prema zajednici. U Banjaluci ne smijete ni da pitate za prostor, da ne bi sutra, šta već… Ipak smo mi mala sredina, Beograd i Zagreb su nešto drugo.
SCB: A taj drugi prostor?
S: Taj mali prostor je jako zanimljiv. To je jedna katakomba u Kastelu. Moja kuća gdje radim, Banski dvor, sada ima formalnu nadležnost nad Kastelom, tako da sam mislio da sa mojim direktorom i sa ljudima iz Gradske skupštine pokušam da taj prostor stavimo u funkciju izložbenog prostora. Novca nema, ali eto pokušat ćemo da nađemo privatne sponzore. Neki ljudi su se već ponudili, ne treba puno novca, a mislim da bi dobili jedan novi i jako zanimljv prostor za izlaganje, ne samo banjalučkih nego i umjetnika iz inostranstva. Sa nekih deset do petnaest hiljada maraka možemo staviti taj prostor u super funkciju. To je neka ideja i ja sada idem prema gradu sa tom idejom da pokušamo to da uradimo.
SCB: Nadam se da će se još više tih prostora pokrenuti jer onda oni otvaraju mogućnost komunikacije, što unutar Bosne i Hercegovine, tako i regionalne, pa i da budemo ambiciozni i šire.
S: Ja zadnjih mjeseci upravo tražim takav prostor jer prvo ja želim da napravim svoju izložbu u nekom tako alternativnom prostoru i onda je to prilika da malo više pročačkam po gradu. Ima zanimljivih prostora. Na primjer Studentsko pozorište u Gospodskoj ulici ima jedan podrum, treba to isto da vidim. Zatim Robna kuća Boska, treći sprat je potpuno prazan, izgleda kao neki moderni muzej, skroz dobro izgleda, ogroman je prostor. Jako dobar prostor imamo i u kampusu, zgrada Tereza se zove. Tamo je bio SPA port. Sad je to pripalo arhitekturi, oni će to da renoviraju, a sad ovako kako je idealan je prostor. Samo što je izmješten iz centra i tamo kada napravite izložbu malo ko će doći poslije otvaranja. To je taj problem, nemamo tu komunikaciju sa ulicom, jer sve što je u komunikaciji sa ulicom su radnje, butici.
SCB: Sada kada si spomenuo komunikaciju sa ulicom, kako Banjalučani reaguju na umjetnost u javnom prostoru?
S: Razumljivo je da reaguju jako čudno i neočekivano. Ima naravno dio ljudi koji vole i koji su oduševljeni tako nekim dešavanjima kojih nije bilo nešto puno, ali većina će se naravno čuditi, sablažnjavati, ne znam ni ja, ali mislim da je to dobro i da treba ići u tom pravcu. Ja znam da je grupa RACE pravila performance na hotelu Palas kada su osvijetlili sobe koje su bile samo betonska konstrukcija i to je bilo jako zanimljivo. Bilo je publike. Jednom su radili ogroman plast sijena ispred Muzeja savremene. To je isto bilo jako super, mada je moje mišljenje da je to trebalo uraditi čak na trgu, negdje na nekom više udarnom mjestu. Bilo je još nekih pokušaja. Preksinoć sam vidio neku potpuno
novu grupu, muzičari, svirali su neku zanimljivu muziku i odmah se puno svijeta okupilo. Mislim da treba više, puno više te inicijative.
SCB: Pričali smo i o nepovezanosti generalno. Koliko ti znaš o umjetničkoj sceni i aktivnosti umjetnika širom BiH. Koliko ih znaš po manjim gradovima?
S: Jako malo, po manjim gradovima jako malo. Sticajem okolnosti u Sarajevu znam popriličlno, ali recimo Mostar, Tuzla, Zenica, Bihać, jako malo znam. Recimo znam jednog kolegu iz Mostara koji je isto radio u Sarajevu, tako smo se i upoznali. Jako malo.
S: Nažalost. Generalno, ne samo po BiH, nego i po regionu. OK, Beograd i Zagreb su veliki centri tako da tu znamo malo više, ali ako su malo manja mjesta: ništa. Čak ni u BiH se ne dešava ta razmjena. Jedino po nekim privatnim poznanstvima, linijama, inače jako malo.
SCB: I sad još jedno posljednje pitanje. Tvoj rad – inspiracija, odnos sa drugim umjetnicima? Šta radiš, šta si prije radio, šta planiraš?
S: Mene su eto krajem akademije zanimali modernizam i apstrakcija. Sad radim nešto dalje. Pokušavam tu sliku da stavim u neki kontekst i radim stvari koje me zanimaju. Što se tiče vizuelnog jezika, malo sam oslobođen, nemam više tih ograničenja. Radim dosta tekstualne stvari. Radim sa upotrebnim predmetima, ugrađujem ih u slike. Sad planiram da kombinujem nešto i sa fotografijom, odnosno da intervenišem i na fotografijama, ali nemam tu nekih ograničenja. Radim i akrilik i ulje, i platno i metal, razne druge stvari. VIP Car Park mi je zadnji projekat koji još uvijek razvijam i sad je možda to neka varijacija što bih trebao da radim krajem ove ili početkom iduće godine u Parizu, ne znam kada će tačno biti izložba. Tu će biti jedno sedam radova iz ove serije, biće nešto i novo. Biće i tri-četiri mala rada koji su slike-instalacije, tako da ću ih kombinovati sa ovim velikim radovima. Ne znam kako će to dalje ići. Vidjećemo. Ali, uglavnom istražujem i radim i uvijek iz jednog rada se rađaju nove ideje, dva – tri nova rada i eto tako ide dalje. Pa sad, eto bio sam i sa profesorom Ješom Denegrijem, treba da idem za Beograd i nadam se da ću sa njim sarađivati. Zainteresovan je, vidio je moju izložbu u Charlami kod Jusufa. Jusuf me nazvao i baš je bio oduševljen i tako. Onda sam otišao u Beograd da se upoznam sa Ješom i nadam se da ćemo nešto zajedno da radimo.
SCB: Ne bih da impliciram. Ali evo, tvoj VIP Car Park i tvoja zlatna stolica – Kome? Koga oni ruže?
S: Big boss (smijeh). Neću reći da se to sada eksplicitno odnosi na Bosnu i Hercegovinu. Odnosi se na planetarni poredak i na te sisteme moći koje su uglavnom na štetu malog čovjeka, ali neću izbjeći da kažem da je to u Bosni i Hercegovini jako izraženo. Profesionalno. Tako da to je to, generalno na Balkanu, ali BiH je prva na listi, mi prednjačimo.
SCB: Gdje ćeš nas poslati sada? Gdje da idemo dalje u Banjaluci?
S: Poslao bih vas u Dijalog da nađete Vesu. Miljanovića ćete nazvati, on je tu negdje, mada njegov atelje je u jednom hangaru pa ćete se ćuti s njim, ne znam da li ćete uspjeti da vidite njegove radove. Vesini radovi su svugdje, to ne vjerujem da ćete uspjeti, ali možda ćete uhvatiti Vesu da s njim popričate. U svakom slučaju, Dijalog vam je poznat u Banjaluci u samom centru grada. Od neke starije generacije, Ljubomir Gajić je meni dosta zanimljiv, on je imao odličnu izložbu. Sad je imao zanimljive crteže i slike. Nikada ne bih rekao da to radi čovjek koji je u godinama. Onako, svježe je baš bilo, fantastičnu izložbu je imao. Ima naravno još ljudi. Biljana Gavranović, zatim imaju momci iz grupe RACE. U svakom slučaju bilo bi dobro da ako imate vremena odete u Muzej Savremene.
SCB: Hvala ti Slobodane.
Slobodan Vidović – Interview
SCB: Hi Slobodan. First, tell us were are we now?
S: The village is called Seferovci, Municipality Gradiška, 30 km from Banja Luka to the Croatian border. Here we are at my ranch.
SCB: Thanks for hosting us. We have seen your studio. Earlier we talked about the precarious position of art in Banja Luka and in Bosnia. However, I walk into your studio, in your little empire and immediately I’m in a world that has everything that is necessary to art. How do you fit this milieu of yours into the reality and in the situation in which the today art is?
S: A lot of my friends comes here, a lot of artists and otherwise my friends, not only from Banja Luka, but also from Sarajevo, Belgrade, from abroad. We always make some party. I have friends who are musicians, and we even play music in here, blues, jazz, rock … We’re doing it from time to time. I’ve tried to connect something pleasant with helpful. Ever since Academy I was thinking about my own studio. Considering that we don’t have a studio in Banja Luka studio and we have never had, there was an option to rent one in Banja Luka and to pay for it, which of course I could not. I come here all the time. And when I was a kid, I was constantly spending time here, 30 km from the city, it is not far away. I decided to do this weekend house and studio. Together with my parents I planned it and on my second or third year of the academy we started to build it, and little by little we were constantly working, editing. In the meantime I kept coming here and worked, painted, so it’s now quite normal. My house is here as well as in Banja Luka, so I’m on the half way constantly.
SCB: I’ll be back later to your art works and the cycle VIP car park and the development of this project. You mentioned the Academy in Banja Luka, friends, artists, lack of studio. What are the conditions for the young artist here in Banja Luka? What are the conditions when one first starts to work, to creates? What is the situation in terms of information exchange, meetings, opportunity?
S: Well it’s not easy at all. Although the city is geting physically much wider, it is the second largest city in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the situation is not bright at all. Let us just return back into the past a bit. One can say, Banja Luka had some extent artistic tradition, but has never had a positive relation with the artists. I must admit that the athletes have been much in better position, well before the war Banja Luka had superb sport and invested a lot in sports. Art is somehow always on the margins, especially now. I do not know exactly, but I know that there are plenty of studios in Sarajevo and Banja Luka never had studios for artists. Even alternative spaces and alternative sites are very difficult to access.
SCB: Where are the meeting places for artists?
S: While there was a pub, actually a restaurant, in Banski dvor, they had a lot of gathering, but now it’s not there. One time they gathered in the Club of artists in the Museum, now less often. I can say that there is no places where a wider range of artists gathers, it’s all over some small groups. We can say that there is Dijalog, where you can see Veso every day, and we also go there. Here one can find a team of artists, but generally just one place does not exist, there is no particular place, which would say that this is it. Today everything has become more fancy, more makedup. There is very little relaxing places.
SCB: Earlier we had an interesting conversation and you mentioned us two spaces. One is part of the fortress Kastel, and the other is a factory. Tell me something about these two spaces!
S: We do not want that this looks like I’m praising myself, but I have found both spaces while I sit with people and talk to them, they have found me or I found them. Now we’ll see what remains. There is an initiative for one part of the hall, of course, now it all depends from the city of Banja Luka. The city bought the property, it is a former rolling mill UNIS, there are planning to do a major business center. Of course, culture and art there is not provided there, but I suggested it, then I was with some people who are responsible for it and some have even liked the idea. Now it is up to me and my peers depends on whether we are going to push it off in September, in fact, to write a good project. I hope that the city would support it. I already have some signals that the city is going to support it and I hope that we will persevere to get this space. That would be some multispace with one studio, with a huge work space where people could work and maybe make an annual event, an exhibition.
SCB: Where is this space positioned?
S: It is positioned away from Banja Luka to Prijedor when you go on highway five kilometers. It is a large former factory of rolled steel, so that the space itself is phenomenal, interesting, looks fantastic. Nothing needs to be done, just maybe to to sort out everything.
SCB: You say that it is five kilometers outside Banja Luka. Thinking like a typical person from the Balkans, I have a question for you: Who would go there? What do you think how many people would be interested, because after all you need the audience?
S: We have a former Intel in Borik which is in the urban area, of the factory Čajevac that is in the center, it is a former factory of military devices. There are several of these areas, but to this country they were not on her mind, they did not even thinking about keeping those spaces. These areas are from the socialist period, my opinion is that this is a cultural treasure that should be preserved. Of course, no one has this on mind, because there’s a law of brutal capitalism, liberalism, pillage, so that today’s rich, tycoons, are buying anything possible, just as in Russia, it’s the same story. So there was no chance. We tried something for places in the city center, but believe me that
there is no chance. I think this is similar to the story about the cisterns for firefighting. Whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia are burning … Village Mount, but the granny combs … the cisterns from Croatia can not extinguish our fires because someone there from the Government or the Council of Ministers was not unable to communicate or to make the memo, because of administrative stuff. That is how we are.
SCB: You can draw a parallel here. The complete relationship with the community is devastating.
S: There is no relationship at all to the community. In Banja Luka, you must not ask for space, so that tomorrow.. whatever… Yet we are small communities, Belgrade and Zagreb are something else.
SCB: And the other place?
S: That small space is very interesting. This is one catacomb in Kastel. My house where I work, Banski dvor, now has a formal authority over Kastel, so I thought that together with my manager and with people from City Hall we try to put this space into function exhibition space. There in no money, but we will try to find some private sponsors. Some people have already offered, we do not need a lot of money, but I think we would get a new and very interesting exposition place, not only for Banja Luka’s artists but also for artists from abroad. With ten to fifteen thousand marks we can put that space in the super function. It’s an idea and now I’m going to toward the town with the idea to try to do it.
SCB: I hope it will be even more of this kind of space is going to run because then they would open up the possibility of communication, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as regional .
S: I was looking for such a space these last months because first I want to do an exhibition in an alternative space and than it is an opportunity to delve more around the city. There is a lot of interesting spaces. For example, Studentsko poozorište in Gospodska street has a basement, I should see that also. Then Boska department store, the third floor is completely empty, it looks like a modern museum, totally good looking, huge space. We have a very good area in the campus, the building is called Tereza. There was a SPA port. Now this went to architecture, they will renovate it, but now it is the ideal place. There is just that it is removed from the center and when an exhibition hardly anyone will come after opening. That’s the issue, we do not have that line of communication with the street, because all that is in communication with the street are shops, boutiques.
SCB: Now that you have mention communication with the street, how people from Banja Luka react to art in public spaces?
S: It is understandable that they react very strange and unexpected. There are certainly some people who love it and who are so enthusiastic about some of the events which were not often, but most of them will naturally
wonder, offend, I do not know either, but I think it’s good and we should go in that direction. I know that a group RACE made performances at the Hotel Palace when they illuminate the rooms that were only concrete structure and that was very interesting. A lot of people were there. Once they did a huge haystack in front of the Museum of Contemporary art. It has also been very great, but my opinion is that it should have been done even in the square, somewhere in a more prime location. There were some other attempts. The night before last I saw a brand new group, the musicians, they played some interesting music and immediately gathered a lot of people. I think we need more, a lot more of these initiatives.
SCB: We’ve talked about and generally disconnection. How much do you know about the art scene and the activities of artists across the country. How many of them do you know in smaller cities?
S: Very little, in small towns, very little. Regarding circumstances I know a lot of them form Sarajevo, but let’s say from Mostar, Tuzla, Zenica, Bihac, I know very few. Let’s say I know a colleague from Mostar who also worked in Sarajevo, we once met. Very little.
S: Unfortunately. Generally, not just in Bosnia, but also in the region. OK, Belgrade and Zagreb are big cities so that we know a bit more, but about smaller place: nothing. Even in BiH this exchange is not happening. Only by some private connections, lines, otherwise little.
SCB: And now, one last question. Your work – the inspiration, the relationship with other artists? What are you doing now, what have you been doing before, what are you planning?
S: I was interested in modernism and abstraction during the academy ending. Now I’m doing something further. I’m trying to put that image in some context and to do things that interest me. As for the visual language, I’m free, I have none of these limitations. I do a lot of text items. I work with the objects, they are built into the image. Now I plan to combine something with photography, or to intervene in the photographs, but I do not have some limitations there. I do acrylic and oil, cloth and metal, various other things. VIP Car Park is my last project, which is still evolving, and now maybe it’s some variation of what I am supposed to do at the end of this year or early next year in Paris, I do not know exactly when will be the exhibition. There will be about seven papers from this series, as well as something new. There will be three to four small work which are image-installation, so I’ll combine them with these big works. I do not know how it would go away. We’ll see. But, mostly, I explore my work and from work always generates some new idea, two or three new work and that’s the way it is going on. Here I was with Professor Ješa Denegri, whereas this I need to go to Belgrade and I hope to collaborate with him. He is interested, he saw my show at Charlama at Jusuf. Jusuf called me and he was just thrilled and so on. Then I went to Belgrade to meet with Ješa and I hope we will do something together.
SCB: I do not want to imply. But here, your VIP Car Park and your golden chair – to who? Who are they scolding?
S: Big boss (laughs). I will not say that this is now explicitly related to Bosnia and Herzegovina. This Refers to the planetary system and this power systems that are mainly at the expense of the little guy, but I will not avoid to say that this is too strong here in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Professional. So that’s it, generally in the Balkans, but Bosnia is the first on the list, we stand out.
SCB: Where will you send us now? Where to go further in Banja Luka?
S: I would send you to Dijalog to find Veso. You can call Miljanović, he is in there somewhere, though his studio is in a hangar and you will hear from him, I do not know if you will be able to see his work. Veso’s works are everywhere, I do not believe you will see them, but you might catch him to talk a bit. Anyhow, Dijalog is well known in Banja Luka city center. From some of the older generation, Ljubomir Gajic is quite interesting to me, he had an excellent exhibition. Now he had an interesting drawings and paintings. I would never say that it is a work from a man in years. It was really fresh, he had a fantastic exhibition. There are of course other people. Biljana Gavranovic, then have a group of guys from RACE. Anyhow, it would be good if you have time to go to the Museum of Modern Art.
SCB: Thank you Slobodan.
BiH Artists Talking 4: Snjezana Idrizović (artist) and Alma Mesic (art historian), Zvono 10.10. 2012th at 21:00
SCB: Good evening. Can you tell me something about your collaboration with Zvono? Have you been surprised by their selection?
S: Well, first of all, it was a surprise because I was not planning to exhibit. It happened quite spontaneously. After I signed up for the contest and got a chance to present my work, it was a big surprise. Besides, Zvono tonight celebrates an anniversary, so it’s a double pleasure.
A: Totaly unexpected. I believe that there was some hope, but honestly I did not expect that I would get this because we do not know how many people would applied. In large, this is the perfect opportunity to show that art historians do indeed exist, and that an exhibition without them should not be allowed to happen.
SCB: Have you fulfilled your expectations regarding the setting of the exhibition? In which way were you allowed to present Snjezana’s work?
A: Well, it is specific because her sculptures do not require a font visual, but rather actively experience. Although the space was limited, we have managed to fit them into thair own neighborhood without disturbing the concept of the exhibition.
SCB: In your opinion, do bh young artists and art historians have the opportunity of selfpromotion if they really make an effort?
A: Yes, definitely, if there are no classic space, then there is an alternative such as Zvono that has been operating for some 40 years and successfully finds the artists, as well as art historians. The important thing is an constant action.
S: Yeah, I think that everything is not so black as people are talking. I believe that it is necessary that the man is diligent in his own work in order to reach a positive result.
SCB: What are your artistic role models? With whose works do you specifically communicate?
S: This is a broad question. Although there are various artists and different directions, I have always been committed to the renaissance, although my sculptures does not show it. Although that art is not so attractive today, I still do it, except this modern part.
A: My role models in criticizm are all those critics after World War II but in art scence I prefer German expressionism and I try to keep doing it. I’m also Interested in our contemporary Bosnian art, but despite all the difficulties there are some faculty responsibilities. But life is long, we can continue to operate.
SCB: What is the theme of your works? Where is the backbone of your works?
S: The inspiration came quite by accident while I was still studying. This is one part of the degree cycle that I eventually worked on. The mirror is the primary material in this cycle because it is mystical, always amaze me, and every day I discover something new. I came into a situation that I never get tired of these materials. Although I do some other things, the Renaissance as I said earlier, I also continue to dwell on this more modern materials.
SCB: Why do you deal with the reflection in the mirror? What does that mean for you?
S: (laughs) The reflection in the mirror is a broad term: first of all from a personal, physical reflection to the mental condition or something that is outside of the mirror.
SCB: What was your collaboration? Have you managed to find a common language?
A: Well, I believe we have succeeded it because my text coincides with her reflections on her own work, which means that cooperation was good and productive. We’ll see how the public and the critics will accept this.
SCB: Girls, what do you expect form the future?
A: (laughs) A lot of things. One only needs to continue to fight.
S: I believe it will be difficult in the future, but because we are young and just graduated from college, I believe that we will reach a positive result.
SCB: I hope so. Thank you and all the best.
BiH Artists Talking 3: Mladen Miljanović
The Banja Luka-based video and performance artist Mladen Miljanović was in town last week for the first “Perfect Strangers” even at Collegium Artisticum. SCB took the opportunity to catch up with him.
Did you always know that you would be an artist?
I was born in Zenica, and when I was at school there one of my drawings was entered for a competition in a draweing contest from across Yugoslavia. But, in Zenica, the air was very bad, from the steel works, so the family moved to the countryside near Doboj. There, I had no money for the bus to art school, so I had to work by myself for a while. I was enterprising: I did copies of bus tickets which worked, and I did some drawings of old people around the place. Around then I began to pay attention to expression in drawing and painting
During my military service, I did drawings for my fellow soldiers, for their letters home, letters to their girlfriends, and so on. A local stonemason heard that I was good at drawing, and invited me to an apprenticeship in his company; he offered me the possibility of a job if I could do portraits in marble. I started to do funerary portraits, and earned a lot of money by comparison with today’s standards; it was a good exercise in improving my drawing, producing these hyper-real portraits. I became quite well known, so much so that there was a new local curse: “I hope that Mladen will soon draw your portrait”. In the end, I quit the stonemasons in 2002 and entered the Art Academy at Banja Luka.
What are your reflections on your time at the Academy in Banja Luka?
When I first went to the Art Academy, I maybe had a bit of a complex; the old clichés of the artist as a genius, living his life as a saint, and so on. My first year was heavy, as I had no money and had to work in the fields to make ends meet. I managed to win three scholarships after the end of my first year, and in addition Im formed three very important relationships there. The first was with a professor in Zagreb, for whom I started work as a demonstrator. At the Art Academy, the difference was that they taught you how to think, rather than just how to make. Everyone can learn how to draw as a skill and technique; you’d have to be really stupid not to be able to do it.
To be an artist, you need to learn how to think; how to use history and art history; contemporary art today is all a product from art history. It’s a for of recycling with new tools. In my third year, there was a bit of luck; the authorities gave the art academy a huge decommissioned military base in Banja Luka. It was a great move by them, a real creative spark in a darkened society. Here I made my first performance, called I Serve Art. I was isolated on the base and totally focused on my purpose. Every day during the performance, I took a photo, as part of a process of decontaminating that space and bringing back to the people; over 270 times I mapped that space with my body. At around that time, I was reading a lot, and took a notion that I had encountered in C.G. Jung, that the body unconsciously returns to the site of trauma. I took art as an excuse to confront the trauma of isolation in the army for 9 months, before the academy. During this performance, I was delighted to win the Zvono award for the best young artist in Bosnia-Hercegovina. In my opinion, both Zvono and the SCCA are of paramount importance; they mark the potential of young artists, and identify a creative nucleaus of people for the future. They provide a recognition of some kind of artistic and intellectual capital here.
Your Film “Do you Intend to Lie to Me” was widely exhibited last year, notably at the Oktobarski Salon in Belgrade. Can you tell us more about its making and the ideas behind it?
This film was the consequence of one long process. My film was focused on my “artistic father”, Veso Sovilj, and was about the last thirty years of his career. Few people acknowledge Veso’s significance to art in this country and no one commented on his large retrospective show. In his teaching, he showed me that we must disregard borders in art and expand on its range of possibilities. I had that in mind when I decided to make a film with him in it, but I didn’t tell him of my plan.
Initially, my plan was to borrow some police uniforms with the help of a friend of mine on the police force. However, it was impossible to arrange; I was not allowed to use police uniforms or to borrow the lie detector in Banja Luka, which is one of only two in the whole of Bosnia & Hercegovina. Everything about the making of this film was very complicated and difficult to realize. In the end, I arranged a meeting with the minister of culture in Banja Luka; I have some credit with the ministry, and they respect my work even if it is critical of them.
In our meeting, the Minister of Culture asked me for a list of things that I needed, once he had understood the project that I was proposing. I took the opportunity to ad some outrageous things to the list, including a helicopter. In my film, the helicopter takes off from the village where Veso Sovilj was born; it tries to seduce you with the beauty of the Bosnian countryside, to begin with.
I was invited a few days later to a second meeting with the Minister of Culture, but this time the Minister of Police was also present. He doesn’t really know about art, and he was angry with me for the suggestion that “fat actors” should wear the uniform of his police force. For a minute, I didn’t know if he was going to put me in jail or not! After a heated discussion between the two ministers, he grasped my idea, and promised not to lend me uniforms but the most elite special police unit at his disposal. These are the men who take down serious criminals and fugitives and bring them to custody. So, all of a sudden, after asking merely for some uniforms and a couple of pistols without bullets for my films, I had the best unit in the force to work with.
The idea then grew in unexpected ways. Art needs to produce consequences in reality; truth happens in reality. It doesn’t occur in an artificial space. I borrowed six cameras from the academy and realized that we had to work very quickly, not only to get the best shot, but also to ensure that Veso didn’t hear of my plan before I put it into action.
It was also quite dangerous. I was worried about Veso. I pleaded with the special police not to treat him roughly- he is an old man in poor health- but they ignored my pleas.they treated him quite roughly during the arrest scene. This was a display of the reality of power; I felt incredibly powerful, having the possibility to order the arrest of a man just because he was an artist- regardess of his innocence.
They took him to the police station and you saw the interview- I was standing outside. When the twenty four questions about Veso’s life were finished, I entered the room and explained that I was responsible for having him arrested. Veso understood the project completely, and congratulated me for what he called a “great, brutal performance”.
The project really is about the superego of Veso. It’s about his background from a beautiful village, which nurtured and shaped his creative personality; it’s also about how military brutality destroyed the world that he had grown up in and completely disrupted his life and career as an artist. The war destroyed his potential and his creativity. It’s also about the processes after the war; regarding the number of war criminals here, and how they are evaluated; who gets to establish their guilt. There is a machine of truth trying to establish who was and was not guilty.
The consequences from this project were very interesting. I received a lot of criticism from many people, who didn’t like the fact that I had a respected professor and close friend arrested in such a public way. But my response was this: where were you before Veso was arrested, where was your analysis of his work before this happened? People care more about Veso now and understand his circumstances. There was therefore a mixed reaction; support from some intellectuals on one side, but a lot of discomfort from the people on the other, in that I penetrated reality in such a brutal way.
I am dealing with questions of ethics in my art. How can you ask ethical questions using non-ethical methods? This film with Veso was my first in this series of works; I am now working with a friend of mine who was in the war and now unfortunately suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He cannot move some of his limbs and he has gone deaf, and very much relies on his wife for the basic daily functions. I have taken a series of photographs, and also will make use of highly personal notes between him and his wife, and a diary that his wife keeps. It is a discourse, and inventory on the state of the body today, what is the position of the body today, how the body reacts when trauma and force is exerted upon it; the state of the contemporary body as a product of recent aggression.
In this case, PTSD has ruined my friend’s body completely. Is it ethical for me to make art from this; it could be read by some as pure exploitation. Of course, it isn’t ethical, my response is not to actually attend the openings where this work will be exhibited, but instead to do a performance outside the gallery space; to take up a position between the edge of the gallery’s artificial space, and the real space outside. I will fix myself in a position hanging from the corner of the gallery, outside, visible from the window. It questions my own position and the position of the spectator as well: issues that I am really working through at the moment.
In your Stojadin installation at MUMOK in Vienna in 2009, I wondered if your own position- as a qualified artist driving a Stojadin taxi in a strange city- mirrored the experience of many BiH citizens who had to leave their home country and work abroad during the 1990s?
Taxi drivers are often marginal people. I was bringing people to the museum to see the exhibition; reality has a huge potential for artists; my intention was to fill the gap between the spectator’s domestic environment, and the space for consuming art. It was an opportunity for spectators to meet the artist, today that is very rare. Artists need to be more present in questioning the processes of art, and need to be more aware of the power that art can have. We might say that Western artists are working too much, and Eastern European artists are thinking too much and not producing enough.
What other artists have been influential for you as your career has developed?
To be honest I can’t think of any particular one. Artists must travel a lot, see new things, and meet other artists for an exchange of ideas and positive energy; you need to position your own ideas, in relationship to theirs. Such exchanges also make you question your own creative values and those of the community that you come from.
The developing arts scene in Munich I find very interesting, of course the pluralism and mixture of everything in Berlin; I also enjoy Vienna’s art scene.
How do the art scenes in Banja Luka and Sarajevo compare?
Well, it’s possible to make more solo shows both in Banja Luka and Sarajevo, but I’m not really sure that it is possible to speak of an “art scene” in either city. Having an “art scene” probably depends on three components: art institutions exploring contemporary art, both representing and encouraging contemporary production; also, a critical response is needed analyzing the plurality of the scene and its’ competing discourses. I think we miss this third thing the most; here people make exhibitions, and nobody comments. Artists and curators have to force a context; to find something that all artists have in common, and produce a discourse from it. Artists and curators need to work together to create value; art workers have no conception here that they have the power to create value.
BiH Artists Talking 2: Daniel Premec
SCB: How do people perceive artists in Bosnia-Hercegovina?
DP: I think that people have this picture of artists as people who don’t work so much, but who have a lot of money. People think that artists can live from their exhibitions. When I say we don’t have anything they doubt it, then they think when I assure them that we really don’t have anything, they think I am crazy. Why would anyone do something if there is no payment? I have to explain what sculptors need to do in their professional life, what kind of job it is, and that it is very hard work. I don’t just sit and dream up images, it is a job where you need to get dirty, and pay a lot of money for material and production. At the moment, that money doesn’t come back.
SCB: and what about the value of art?
DP: I have tough principles about value of art. If people have no money but love art, I will make them a present of some of the things I have made. On the other hand, I will not sell to people who have plenty of money, but no respect for art. Rich people are clever; some years ago they stopped investing in real estate, and started investing in art. They have worked out that it is muc better to buy a picture that costs a million pounds, than a house which costs the same, as the picture is more likely to hold its value. This year is a peak for the art market, with buyers from China, the Middle East and Russia prominent. The Chinese government is putting a lot of money into art, so much so that the value of their artists is inflated. personally, I can’t understand spending millions of pounds on what is kitsch work. Here in BiH we are observers of this art market, rather than active participants.
SCB: That’s interesting, as in many ways this “observer” status is mirrored in the current political profile of Bosnia-Hercegovina internationally. When do you think that this”observer” status in art is likely to change?
DP: The EU is funny, as it lays down the law on EU membership, and it will try to make BiH in its own image. When we finally get to the magical wonderland, our borders will be open, that will be good for art. There will be no more difficulties in moving about. But the EU will extract a heavy price for this, because they know that everything will be very cheap. But they will fuck us very hard because we will be very cheap. The EU likes small countries like BiH, they know that labour costs will be very cheap here.
World production is dominated by China at present, but they will become more expensive as people demand better standards of living in return for their work. This will come about as a result of labour disputes. When this happens productivity will be endangered, and capitalists will turn again to the small poor countries of Europe. They are like vampires. BiH will be of interest to the EU because of our huge potential for the production of renewable energy and clean drinking water. So, the “observer” status will change in the future, I’m not sure for the right reasons though. Everything that is coming will affect the production of art here, and in the future there will be much better opportunities for exhibitions and exchanges.
SCB: Did you always know that you would be an artist, or did you come to it later on in your development?
DP: I have been making art all my life; from when I was a very small kid. I had great support from my parents, who are not artists. My mother finished architecture school but didn’t pursue it; she’s a translator now. My father a philosopher, and was a professor at the University here. My Maternal grandfather was a military cartographer. He wanted to go to naval academy, but the JNA sent him to military academy in Prague. He was a good draughtsman; actually, mother wanted to go to art high school, but she was not allowed, as at that time it was associated with “bohemia”.
I was raised like a soldier. I cam from a military family, with a military outlook. When I was supposed to go to high school, I wanted to go to the Naval Academy at Zadar, with the aim of commanding a ship in the Yugoslav Navy. In this way, i was supposed to achieve the dream of my grandfather, who by this stage was a Colonel in the JNA and head of the army’s cartography section. However, I had been a poor student at primary school and was terrible at mathematics and geography, which are key subjects for the Navy.
My father had supported my decision and used his connections to arrange my entry. But he also knows me very well, and asked pointed questions; was I prepared for it, was I ready to obey my superiors? My father knew my personality, and started to talk with me about art. At that stage, I didn’t think about art, or what I was doing particularly. My father told me to look carefully at what i was doing; my best achievements in my early life had been my art. My mother has kept all my drawings, from when I was about 3, and my explanations of them. My father suggested to me that I should look carefully at what I was doing, and that it would be a waste to use my life to realise someone else’s ambitions.
So, I decided to apply for Art High School, but I wanted to do industrial design. I saw this as a half way house between my mother’s architectural ambitions and the work of my aunt, who was a graphic designer. My father advised me to try for the sculpture department, but I didn’t see that I would make any money from sculpture. As it turned out, I didn’t get through the entrance exam for industrial design, but I was accepted by the sculpture department. The professor in that department had recognised my abilities. After one month’s study I realised that I had come upon the real path that my life was to take, and that any other choice would have been a real disaster and very wrong. Then I began to think about continuing my development as a sculptor, at the Academy.
SCB: Tell us about your time studying at the Academy of Fine Arts.
DP: Before I do that, I want to go back a little bit further. In my second year at Art High School, the war started. During the war, I was doing some art projects. I drew comics as they were not available during the siege. This was a place to hide for me. In the siege, making sculpture was really hard; you could make figures from clay, which is just the first stage in the sculptural process, but plaster was not available. I found a storage place between the two front lines. During the night I would go there, and I took as much plaster as i could carry with me. In the third year of Art High School, we weren’t going in, but had to do everything at home. I finished there in 1994, and was the only student who had accomplished all the work required in plaster.
When I had finished at Art High School, a colleague, Alma Suljević was making monumental sculpture at a tram stop, that was particularly important during the war. On the 2nd May 1992, the Serbs wanted to cross the bridge and attack the BiH presidency building. They were stopped at Skenderija tram station and their aims thwarted, so this resistance from the Bosnian side was critical. There was a strong feeling of resistance and solidarity at the time. Alma made a sculpture with the name Kentoromahija; a Greek name for a battle between centaurs. She used this metaphor to present beseiged Sarajevo as an island.
She made a large sculpture of a horse killing a centaur. Helping Alma with this was my first real step into my mature artistic career. The second step of Alma’s project was a huge exhibition of all the artists that she gathered and each artist was asked to make a 30 x 30 work for an exhibition in July 1994, during the ceasefire, at the National Gallery. On the same day, we had an opening of her tram sculpture and this huge exhibition. I was the youngest exhibitor, and in that period I was applying for academy of art. I was exhibiting alongside my future teachers, and established artists, which was funny.
It’s 18 years since that exhibition, and in each year I have had several group, or solo shows. I am always living in the present but also living for tomorrow. This probably comes from wartime. To be an artist you cannot be ignorant, you need to know about the history of society and art. Our past established our present reality and you have to know how we got here. Some artists fought really hard in past, and I am a free artist now because of that, so its really important. But for me its really bad for artists to be locked in some period. I don’t want to make work about Srebrenica and the siege of Sarajevo. I want to show not just experience from past, but what we are living now; still we are living whole war and we are still prisoners of the situation in our country, because our politicians don’t want to change anything.
SCB: We have talked a lot about your biography and development. What other artists have been important to you in the development of your work?
DP: This is a hard question for me, because I never had a particular artist that was important, but I have taken things from many others. For example, I like Frieda Kahlo because of her huge energy and the emotional range of her work; she doesn’t lie, her life was shown honestly in her art. She focused on her surroundings and the time that she lived in, and I really admire and respect that. For monumental sculptors, I was always looking at Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Anthony Gormley, or Antony Goldsworthy.
Goldsworthy has a great respect for nature and discusses the differences in philosophy and outlook between East and West, as well as a strong feeling for aesthetics. I like Anish Kapoor, because of lightness of monumental sculpture that he achieves in very heavy material. I can make different kind of connections with these artists, and make parallels with my own work; but its impossible to count them all. Each artist did something that helps me drive forward, and shows experience or knowledge that I can use in my work.
When Marina was doing her performances, she showed such energy and commitment, as an artist who came from the Balkans. She committed herself to live very, very hard, to achieve what she has now. I am really angry at artists from that generation; I don’t like when someone is jealous of another’s achievements. It’s easy to be jealous of Marina; she is very rich now, but nobody takes account of how hard she had to work to get there. If you dig deeper, you will find a lot of very bad stuff that people have to go through to achieve what they do. In art, I respect truth, emotional honesty and using these as a means of developing an understanding of the time that you live in.
SCB: What can we expect from your forthcoming exhibition at Colegium? Is it a retrospective of work you have done, or a new project?
DP: No, it’s all completely new work; people can see my intentions on my website. The exhibition will concern the system that we all live under, about contemporary art in BiH, about the difficulties in life that we all face. I am taking twelve large spikes and stabbing the gallery space with them. The show is based on the symbolism of the number twelve; twelve months a year, and in each month we have to fight hard and struggle just to survive. I don’t much like what i see around me and the reality that I am living in, so I will transform the whole gallery space and make a large scale installation. I will destroy the gallery twelve times over, and make a demolition and bresk into the space. There is the conundrum of whether I am breaking into the gallery space, or breaking out of the gallery space into reality. I wanted to show that here in BiH we are the equal of artists anywhere, and we can make a large scale installation if we want. I am trying to live the same life here that I would live if I were in Berlin or London. Maybe I am pretending, but I want to live that. I want to show that we can do these kinds of things.
SCB: What do you think are the specifics of the cultural situation here, that artists in Berlin or London don’t have to contend with?
DP: I think that we have created a sick situation for ourselves here. Our contemporary situation warps and stunts artistic ambition in a particular way. Here, we always get to the point where people say “O, don’t do that, it costs far too much, do this instead”. I only have some of the money I wanted for this exhibition, and I have to pay a lot of my own money in order to realise it as I want. I also have used connections to get some things as support, for free. I will show that an ambitious exhibition is manageable here.
This stunting of ambition always makes me angry. I think that artists are too lazy here. We can achieve much more if we are not lazy. We need to use our imagination and strength to resist the circumstances in which we are living. We can pretend, and actually when I say we pretend, we are not pretending because we have really good art. This pretence is a resistance; it’s about values and how you live your life; it’s about self respect and dignity. I’m not going to work like some artist in other countries. I don’t want to stop and to use the excuse that we are a small country and that we have no money.
I don’t like the fact that curators are also guilty in this story. We are working with low budgets but we have enough to produce good work. When we did subdokumenta, we only had 5KM in our pockets. We made something which created a very good picture, about artists from BiH who are doing very good things, and we got ourselves an article in the New York Times. We can do miracles and show the world that we are not a lazy bunch who don’t know what they are doing. We musn’t use our circumstances as an excuse for inactivity or poor work. As Jusuf Hadžifejzović said, “If you can’t play by someone else’s rules, make your own rules in order to be successful.”
SCB: In our first interview, Emir Kapetanović suggested that there would soon be a major cultural movement emerging in Sarajevo. Do you agree with him?
DP: Personally, I can’t see something emerging at the moment, but bigger opportunities will come to us to exhibit outside of Bosnia-Hercegovina. I hate curators from abroad saying to me that they’d like to show my work but don’t have the money to transport it. Don’t be lazy, let’s work together and achieve something. We have the artists who can bring something new to cities abroad, something that they don’t have already. This is how we can represent our country and we must create the possibility to do it.
SCB: What are your plans once this new exhibition is open?
DP: I am always looking beyond my current projects to the next thing. I never stop, I guess I am a bit of a single player and don’t really fit in with the Sarajevo way of thinking. Some people in Belgrade are interested in showing my sculptures so I will find the money to make it happen.It’s complicated, but I will get there. In the longer term, I want to see a group of people emerging here with the energy and commitment to take our art outside of the borders of BiH.
Daniel Premec’s exhibition “Spiked” opens at Colegium Artisticum on the 10th of July at 7pm.
BiH Artists Talking 1: Emir Kapetanović
SCB caught up with painter / sculptor / conceptual artist Emir Kapetanović during the Artists’ Colony at Vranduk. Here’s what he had to say.
SCB: So, Emir, tell us a little bit about your education and background as an artist.
EK: I began making small forms in plasticene before I went to school. I didn’t think about being an artist then, of course, but I suppose that I’ve always been doing it. In actual fact, I went to architecture high school,, and for a while I thought I’d go into work as an architect. But, as time went on, I realised the real complications involved in architecture. There’s too much mathematics, and I’d estimate that only about one in a hundred architects actually have the chance to realise their own buildings- the others work on smaller problems for other people.
So, in the end, I decided against architecture and took my exams for the sculpture department at the Art Academy, and this is how my future in art was confirmed. When I cam to the Academy, I was a little confused about what Art actually is. I suppose that I expected someoneto teach me what Art is, and what it is all about, but this is something that nobody can teach you. The ability to express yourself must come from within yourself. I quite enjoyed the Academy, as I had a good technical and classical education. However, it took me some time to realise that no professor was able to tell me what Art is.
Instead I learned that you have to find out what Art is by yourself. The exhibition of ARS AEVI in 1999 in Sarajevo was a real revelation for me. It was my first real meeting with contemporary art, and one of the biggest moments in the development of my ideas about art. I can remember being shocked by the work of Ilya Kabakov (I Will Return on April 12th, 1991, ARS AEVI collection); his work was simple, it was possible for everyone to make this, yet it had such a strong idea. After seeing Kabakov, I began to think about conceptual solutions in the process of making art.
I suppose that I still have the child in myself. I don’t like to restrict myself to one medium or the other. It’s boring when artists find one idea in painting or sculpture and then restrict themselves to making that for a long time. It’s dull and negative to simply define your work in one style as it closes down the possibilities of making other things in other media. I try to find new approaches in different media all the time. It may sound odd, but I restrict the number of ideas I work with in order to keep my work as fresh as possible.In this way, i can explore both my consciousness and subconsciousness.
SCB: You mentioned Kabakov, is he still important for the work that you are doing now?
EK: I am impressed by Kabakov and his work. But back then, when I first saw it, conceptual art was maybe more fashionable than it is now. For me, today, pure conceptualism is not enough to express the problems around us. For the world in 2012 conceptualism is not enough. We have to continue to find new ways, to develop new concepts for expressing our ideas. For example, in contemporary socially engaged art, where is the artistic idea within all that? Despite the ethical positivity of such an approach, it can be very hard to find the art within it, and this is a problem.
In Bosnia-Hercegovina, we still have this “exotic / primitive” aspect to our contemporary cultural production. Foreigners when they come here are only interested in the war and want us all to talk about it, but I can’t do art like that anymore. I don’t want to speak about the bad things that happened in my life during that period. Art must be open to the spiritual aspect, and be used as a language for the materialisation of the spirit. But what is the purpose of art? Only to visualise aspects of the spirit? Again, it’s not enough for me. I would also like art to play a role in building a better contemporary society.
SCB: So far we’ve spoken a lot about conceptual art and what the role of art might be in contemporary Bosnia-Hercegovina. But what is the relationship between your conceptual work, and the new paintings that you are doing here in Vranduk?
EK: Well here in Vranduk there is a very good combination: a perfect silence, some great people working here, so weeks like this are a beautiful time. Here, I have done three completely different paintings. If you would put them together on a wall in the gallery, it would look like the work of three different artists. It’s the only way in my view to be an interesting artist, to surprise people. I also really enjoy the process of making; when I am painting it’s a kind of mantra or meditation, a connection with the spirit. I take a blank canvas and start, painting for myself; sometimes in painting, but more often in conceptual art, I respond to the socio-political situation around me. Sometimes conceptual language is the best one to use for expressing how I’m feeling. But I can be versatile: i can use traditional painting, video or installation- whichever I feel is the best means to use to express how I am feeling at the time.
In any case, how is it possible to work conceptually in Vranduk?People don’t understand or know the language of conceptualism here. I wouldn’t wish to change anything here and don’t see the point in being provocative in a place like this. It is different in Sarajevo, with different surroundings, different problems, and the political situation there, which sometimes provokes a conceptual reaction. If I could paint this I would, but sometimes in Sarajevo it’s better to produce a conceptual reaction. When I say painting, I mean a drawing or sculpture. If someone is creative, all they need is white paper and a pencil and they can express themselves. In Western Europe and America, there is today an over-emphasis on production at the expense of making art. There, you have an idea and it’s good, so you concentrate on how it is realised rather than on the art itself. The most important thing is to produce, *how* to make your video; in the end the idea fades behidn the production values. It sems to me that a lot of contemporary art is over-produced and the idea becomes secondary. I have never seen the point of beautifully producing one idea over and over again.
SCB: Some people have said that the audience for art in Sarajevo has changed fundamentally since the end of the war, and that the audience for art in the city now is much different to the audience in the Sarajevo of old Yugoslavia. Do you agree?
EK: Actually, I don’t think that the audience has changed that much. There have always been a small group of people in Sarajevo who know a lot about art and who will come reliably to openings and exhibitions. Then there is the other 90% of people who for whatever reason don’t care very much. There has been a lot of very strong art made here in the last thirty years, but people come and see this, perhaps don’t understand it, and feel themselves to be stupid as a result. Ordinary people think they don’t know enough about art and are embarrassed by feeling the need to explain why they like or don’t like certain artworks.
But in Sarajevo there is a very good art scene right now. there are so many artists in the city, the audience for their work is slowly getting bigger, and the scene could develop into something very good. There is a very strange energy in Sarajevo at the moment, I’m not sure how it will all work out, but there will be a significant cultural movement in the city very soon.
The trouble is that, at the moment, there is no money available for art in Sarajevo. Many people have become discouraged by the difficulty of making a living from art and give up, which is very sad. At the moment I have two identities; by day I am working on construction, for a restoration in the city: I really need the money. However, sometimes, when i think of the time and energy that I have to expend on this, which could be used for something else, it makes me sad. If I could spend all my time on art, I could make great things in the future, but at the moment it is difficult. Next year I will try to find some postgraduate scholarship or course outside of Bosnia-Hercegovina; to change the langauge, to challenge myself in a new system with different people. It’s my dream not to have to worry about paying rent or bills but just to concentrate on making art. I’m sure that it will happen, but I must fight for it.
SCB: Other than Kabakov, who else is important for your work?
EK: That Kabakov work was in the right place at the right time for me. I’m a real fan of specific works of his, he’s a grat artist.
Other than that, Picasso of course. My favourite sculptor is Constantin Brancusi and I also really appreciate the work of Joseph Beuys. I am interested in older artists, in every past era you can find someone exploring pure art. Bueys suggested that, working in his time, art and life were the same; Brancusi suggested art as something higher than life. He’s totally the opposite from Beuys; in Endless Column he connects art directly with nature. Picasso sets up new analyses in each of his painting and provides a platform for more. In their own diferent ways, all of these artists have a real balance between spiritual and aesthetic content in their work, and show how it is possible to communicate better through art.
SCB: We have discussed your use of different media in your work, to try and keep your audience interested. What, however, are the main ideas in your work?
EK: Ideas arise as a result of external influences being filtered through by individual intelligence. I live a trinagular life; between my day job, my house, and Galerija Čarlama. The lines of this triangle always affect me: visually, there are lines everywhere, both in urban and rural landscapes. Most of my ideas are restricted to this triangle of movement and the task is to try and use these ideas in compositions for bigger, more universal thoughts.
Ideas can be a solution to problems thrown up by everyday experience and thought. Drawing, as I have said, can be a mantra: a spiritual examination of form: going deep within yourself, to find yourself. Then there is the euphoria of these colourful paintings, which come out almost without thinking. Both these thoughts relate to our present state; in 2012 we have the internet, nanotechnology, svery sophisticated scientific advances; yet we still have these primal, pre-rational urges as humans. Art can be a rationalisation of these primal urges.
SCB: Do you see the present difficulties for artists in Sarajevo getting better soon? How do you see things developing?
EK: Well, it certainly can’t get any worse than it is now, and something must improve soon. Everyone knows that there is no money for art in the city. But we are not asking for millions- with only a little money all of us can do really good things. There is an inspiring energy in Sarajevo at the moment and I can see something big happening soon. The trouble is, I am not sure when a functioning art market will emerge. there is very little awareness of the value of art here. Some people have money here, but no conscience; and offer derisory sums for the work that we produce. People’s attempts to try and buy things for virtually nothing here (I am not talking about people who have very little money, by the way) sometimes blunts my optimism that a proper art market can emerge here, or th growth of an audience that appreciates the material worth of art.
SCB: You have mentioned a couple of times that you feel that we are on the point of a new cultural movement happening in Sarajevo. Why then are you planning to leave the city at the very point where this might happen?
EK: That’s a very good question. I feel simply that I cannot wait for something to happen in Sarajevo. I need to go for a while for my own personal reasons. I want to go to exchange ideas with a new group of people somewhere else, and to refresh my own. i want to develop more personally. Then, refreshed, i can bring new ideas back to Sarajevo, and perhaps come back a better artist. there is no doubt that I will live and work again in Sarajevo in the future, once I have done what I need to do elsewhere.
Many thanks to Emir for his time and insights. Our next interview will be posted next weekend: we are looking forward to discussing art with the sculptor Daniel Premec this week.