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INTERVIEW WITH ZLATKO ĆOSIĆ by Semilla Bland (English to Bosnian translation by Elvir Mandzukic) Semilla Bland interviewed Zlatko Ćosić, whose recent installations include Harmony in 3 at Laumeier Sculpture Park, South Slavic Requiem at Bruno David Gallery and a projection on the north-facing wall of the Renaissance Hotel. Semilla Bland: We started the interview with a look into Zlatko Ćosić’s background and how it is reflected in his art. Born in Banja Luka, Yugoslavia, Ćosić experienced the Bosnian War firsthand. Zlatko Ćosić: The war experience and immigration inspired certain aspects of my artwork. In December 1994, I escaped the war in Bosnia and moved to Belgrade. I had to change my name, and with that new identity I successfully crossed the war zone and spent three years living in Belgrade. I was involved in filmmaking and studied computer science. That’s where the war experience comes in as an art theme. My experiences triggered many ideas and art was an approach for me to share the stories, to communicate. In 1997, I moved to St. Louis and I’ve been here since. SB: South Slavic Requiem addresses themes of discrimination, be it religious, nationalist, racial, etc. What is the role of art in healing political divisions?

ZĆ: For me, art creates a dialogue, a communication of sorts. In the beginning, it helped me understand what was going on. I share artwork and hope to invoke an emotional response. I expect the audience to then share their experience and educate their family and friends. Embrace the differences among people instead of discriminating others because they’re different. The possibility for reconciliation and forgiving, that’s true artwork. SB: Harmony in 3 focuses on the physical landscape of the park and the labor that maintains it. Does location play a role in any of your other work? ZĆ: Location is crucial in my work. South Slavic Requiem wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t ended up on this isolated piece of land beneath the Dinara Mountain, close to the boarder of Croatia and Bosnia. While filming inside an Orthodox Christian church, I heard the sound of a flute coming through the window. The sound drew me in and I knew there was a story there. When I found the musician, he was afraid of who I might be until I said, “I don’t belong to any of those groups; Serbian, Bosnian, Croatian, Muslim, none! I don’t believe in that.” He said, “Oh, you’re nothing!” and welcomed me in. If you belong to a national,

political or religious group, you’re automatically judged. He’d rather have nothing than opposition. He liked that I was neutral and the sound of his flute became the soundtrack for South Slavic Requiem. SB: In particular, what role has St. Louis played in your creative process? ZĆ: I like the space here. I like how wide it is, it helps me think better, and relaxes my mind. I like the cost of living because I can keep teaching my classes and I also have plenty of time for my artwork. Socially and culturally, I do like the international community. I can learn a lot from it. If you move from North to South there are social and economic differences and problems. I reflect upon current social and political issues to incorporate in my work. St. Louis inspires me to make a change. SB: If people could take away any one message after viewing your work, what would you like it be? ZĆ: For anyone, I would say, focus on positive energy. Embrace differences and communicate. My artwork is a starting point, that’s how I communicate. For people from the former Yugoslavia in particular, don’t forget your culture and customs. Help your community. Get involved in art; you don’t have to make art but you can at least appreciate art and support local artists. Share experiences and teach your kids, don’t keep it inside.

Zlatko Ćosić + Ashley McQueen, stills of Harmony in 3 (courtesy of the artist)

Semilla Bland je razgovarala sa Zlatkom Ćosićem, čiji je nedavne postavke uključuju Harmonija u Troje u Parku Skulptura Laumeier, Južnoslovenski Requiem u Galeriji Bruno David i projekciju na sjeverni zid Renaissance hotela. Semilla Bland: Počeli smo razgovor sa osvrtom na proslost Zlatka Ćosića i kako se ona ogleda u njegovoj umjetnosti. Rođen u Banja Luci, Jugoslavija, Ćosić je iskusio bosanski rat iz prve ruke. Zlatko Ćosić: Iskustvo rata i imigracija inspirisali su određene aspekte moj rada. U decembru 1994. godine, izbjegao sam rat u Bosni i preselio se u Beograd. Morao sam promijeniti moje ime, i uz taj novi identitet sam uspješno prešao ratnu zonu i proveo tri godine života u Beogradu. Ja sam se uključio u filmsku produkciju i studirao informatiku. Od toga zapravo moje ratno iskustvo dolazi kao tema umjetnosti. Moja iskustva zaprela su mnoge ideje i umjetnost je bila jedan pristup za mene da podijelim priče, da komuniciram. Godine 1997, preselio sam se u St. Louis gdje zivim i sada.

SB: Južnoslavenski Requiem bavi se temama diskriminacije, bilo da su to vjerske, nacionalističke, rasne, itd. Koja je uloga umjetnosti u izliječenju političke podjele? ZC: Za mene, umjetnost stvara dijalog, jednu vrstu komunikacije. U početku, to mi je pomoglo da shvatim šta se dešava. Dijelim umjetnicki rad i nadam se da poziva na emocionalni odgovor. Očekujem od publike da onda podijeli svoje iskustvo i obrazuju njene roditelje i prijatelje. Prigrli razlike među ljudima umjesto diskriminacije drugih zato što su drugačiji. Mogućnost za pomirenje i opraštanje, to je istinski umjetnički rad. SB: Harmona u 3-roje fokusira se na fizički krajolik parka i na rad koji ga održava. Da li lokacija igra ulogu u bilo kojem od vaših drugih radova? ZC: Lokacija je ključna u mom radu. Južnoslavenskim Requiem ne bi postojao da nisam završio na ovom izolovanom komadu zemlje ispod planine Dinare, u neposrednoj blizini granice Hrvatske i Bosne. Dok sam snimao unutar jedne pravoslavne crkve, čuo sam zvuk flaute kako dolazi kroz jedan prozor. Zvuk me je privukao u i znao sam da tu ima jedna priča. Kada COMMUNITY VOICES

sam pronašao muzičara, on se bojao ko bih mogao biti ja dok nisam rekao, "Ja ne pripada nijednoj od tih grupa; srpski, bosanski, hrvatski, muslimanski, niti jednoj! Ja ne vjerujem u to.” On je rekao," O, ti si ništa! "I pozvao me da udjem. Ako pripadate nacionalnoj, političkoj ili vjerskoj grupi, vi ste automatski osudjivani. On bi radije da nema ništa nego opoziciju. Dopalo mu se je što sam bio neutralan i zvuk njegove flaute je postao muzicka tema filma Južnoslavenski Requiem. SB: Posebito, kakvu je ulogu odigrao St. Louis u vašem kreativnom procesu? ZC: Volim prostor ovdje. Sviđa mi se kako je širok, pomaže mi da bolje razmišljam, i opušta moj um. Dopada mi se cijena troškova života, jer mogu nastaviti držati nastavu, moje casove i ja takodjer imam dovoljno vremena za umjetnički rad. Socijalno i kulturno, ja volim međunarodnu zajednicu. Ja mogu mnogo naučiti od nje. Ako se krećete od sjevera do juga postoje socijalne i ekonomske razlike i problemi. I razmisljam o aktuelnim društvenim i političkim pitanjima da bih ih ugradio u moj radu. St. Louis me inspiriše da radim na promjeni.

WINTER 2015 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM 14

All the Art, Winter 2015  

The Visual Art Quarterly of St. Louis

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