ADVICE FOR SURVIVAL // 11. 1993.
AMRA ZULFIKARPASIC // DESIGNER
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

November 1993

Amra Zulfikarpasic
Designer
ADVICE FOR SURVIVAL

‘Work was a kind of mental exercise for all of us or perhaps a means of mentally resisting. And it was interesting how during the war, if you ran into five people and asked them what they were doing, you would find that each of those five people was working on some kind of project of their own. This was because no one was able to give you or find you a job. You had to think up some kind of job for yourself. I worked a lot during the war, and that pretty much saved my life. Jobs that are perhaps less important now, when looking at them from a different point of view. At that time during the war, they seemed to me as if they were the most important thing in the world, even more important than my own life. And so I was going out to make trademarks for people, to design their projects, because that was terribly important to me. And I never thought about the possibility of something happening to me because of someone else’s project, like the possibility of my getting killed, for example. And this was at a time when there wasn’t any electricity at all, there wasn’t anything. There was no water, there wasn’t anything. This made work difficult for designers, because every one of my jobs depended on electricity in order to be realized in the end. And that was always the most difficult phase during the war. During ‘92 and ‘93 I became a regular nomad trying to find places where I could plug in my computer. Literally every month I had to move with my machines, my computers from basements, to cafe booths, to headquarters, and everywhere I had to plead to people to let me sit down somewhere and work. To give me just a little bit of electricity so that I could hook up my computer.’

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TOPIC RELATED TEXT

NOVEMBER 1993


• The French UN battalion helps residents of Alipasino polje with repairs, house painting, expelling water from their basements, and bringing materials for the supply of gas.
• Death of the great Italian director Federico Fellini.


• ARBiH in conflict with the troops of Fikret Abdic in the area of Velika Kladusa.
• For weeks the city is without electricity, water, gas and humanitarian aid. The situation is worsened by the BiH delegation’s refusal to sign the peace agreement.
• The First Corps of the ARBiH issues a decision to abolish the HVO General Headquarters in Sarajevo, integrating the HVO brigade “Kralj Tvrtko” into the ARBiH 1st Corps. George Soros visits Sarajevo.


• George Soros visits Sarajevo.
• The HVO destroys the old bridge in Mostar.
• Massacre of students in Sarajevo. Classes are suspended until security measures are introduced
• UNPROFOR discontinues its service of accepting and sending letters on behalf of Sarajevans. In Split, 50 sacks of letters addressed to the people of Sarajevo are thrown into the sea.


• Another massacre of the citizens of Sarajevo.
• Presidency member Ejup Ganic refuses to receive Thorvald Stoltenberg.
• On the occasion of the massacre, American President Bill Clinton states: “The only thing we can do, if Sarajevo is shelled heavily is to receive approval by the UN for NATO and the U.S. to use airstrikes.”
• Rules introduced for the holding of classes: school sessions last 15 minutes. From December 24th till March 1st the students will have a break. Regardless there is no heating.
• Exhibition of the Sarajevan paintings “Witnesses of Existence” at the BiH Art Gallery.


• U.S. Embassy on November 10th relocates to Vienna.
• A joint declaration signed on the free movement of humanitarian convoys.


• A convoy carrying food for Sarajevo from Macedonia is held up because of ice and snow on Vlasenica. It consists of around 20 trucks. The Children’s Embassy appeals to UNPROFOR for aid.


• Symposium held on war medicine: “Medicine during War '92-'93”.


• A package arrives in Sarajevo of 960,000 candles from the Czech Republic worth about $48,000.


• The convoy of food from Macedonia is stopped in Pale.


• In Geneva, negotiations continue.


Cultural survival

The besieged city defends itself by culture and thus survives. Groups and individuals create whatever they used to create before the siege In impossible circumstances they produce films, write books, publish newspapers, produce radio programs, design postcards, stage exhibitions, performances, make blueprints for rebuilding the city, found new banks, organize fashion shows, shoot photographs, celebrate holidays, put on make up... Sarajevo is the city of the future and of the life in the post-cataclysm. In it on the ruins of the old civilization a new one is sprouting, an alternative one, composed of remains of urban elements Sarajevo lives a life of futuristic comics and science fiction movies.

CULTURAL SURVIVAL

Sarajevo is a unique city on the planet. It is the site where our civilization has been dismantled in the course of intentional violence.
But Sarajevo is also the symbol of civil defense, the site where violence has been fought back with tolerance, fascism with art and culture, destruction with rebuilding, death with humour, the outburst of rural culture with the one that's urban terror with stubborn maintaining of normal city lifestyle.
Sarajevo has been deprived of all the civil, existential and social rights. It has been deprived of the right to live. Everything that makes normal urban living has been taken away from Sarajevo and its citizens, everything that could have been taken away has been taken away, all except for the right to survive by maintaining the right to culture.
But among all that destruction and dying, kids are being born, birthdays celebrated, weddings carried out. In the city surrounded by the deadly circle of primitivism the exhibitions are being opened, movies made, festivals organized, theatre plays and musicals performed.
Sarajevo lives the post-cataclysm. It is the picture of civilization emerging out of cataclysm, making something out of nothing, giving messages for the future.
Not because the future is necessarily a future of wars and disasters, but because humans are growing older and being born into a world which is ever less secure.
All that has been left under the ruins of Sarajevo, all that has survived the shelling of our civilization is the spirit of the cultural survival. The reconstruction of that spirit, the spirit of Sarajevo must start – now. Otherwise – Sarajevo will become the graveyard of the principles of multiethnicity and human rights.

Design

There are several design studios and groups in the city. The most prominent are the Studio „Trio“ managed by Bojana and Dado Hadžihalilović, who have created and produced a collection of posters and postcards of wartime motifs with reference to pop-art works, and Amra Zulfikarpašić who designs posters for newly established firms and exhibitions.
The Studio Zulfikarpašić has designed for the „Survival“ project a new game, The Sarajevo Darts. The players of the game are supposed to throw darts at the targets on the Olympic map of the city.

Amra Zulfikarpasic
She was born on May 26, 1946 in Sarajevo where she got a degree in graphic design at the Academy of Fine Arts. She worked in the marketing agency of the publishing house “Oslobodjenje” for 14 years. She has participated in many exhibitions in the country and abroad. She received a large number of awards. She founded her own studio.

THE SIEGE
During the siege she worked on the project “Jelly Bomb” and put up two solo exhibitions “Opening of the Parcel” and “Design and Means of Survival”. She worked as art director on the “Survival Art Museum”. She conducted an advertising campaign of the Fund for Rebuilding and Constructing the Clinic Center in Sarajevo. She designed many papers, theater advertising materials, posters, she wrote for the American paper “Virginia Pilot”, in which she published articles about life in Sarajevo.

It there were life after life, in what shape would you return?
As a perfect human being.

How do you describe perfect happiness?
I remember it as if it happened yesterday.

What is you biggest loss?
Killed, raped and expelled Bosnians.

What is your biggest gain?
I wait for it anxiously.

When and where were you happiest?
Thinking of happiness has been my favorite psychological gymnastics during the war. It seems to me that I was happy very often.

What are your lost illusions?
I thought that fascism had disappeared forever.

Describe your day at work.
I am happy that I do not have an everyday scheme.

Sarajevo?
My love!

What words don’t you use anymore?
Brotherhood and Unity.

In your opinion, is morale a virtue?
I have my own morale.

Where would you like to live?
I live where I always wanted to live, in Sarajevo.

How have you survived?
The struggle will never end.

What are you afraid of?
Of illness and of weakness.

Does the past exist for you?
My past is my material for a happy future.

This is the end of a civilization. What will the next one be like?
If it will be built on the foundations of this one - it will be a poor one.

Can you give us a recipe for mental health?
I do not give recipes for the cakes I don’t know how to make.

How would you like to die?
It would be nice to die naturally, if they allow it.

Do you need hope to live?
I never separate from hope, my good life companion.

What did ’92 look like, and ’93, and ’94?
The most important years of my life.

How would you call this period of your life?
The years of living dangerously.

Your message from the end of the world, from a country of last things?
Do not buy houses - they’ll burn; don’t keep your money in banks - you’ll loose it; don’t own companies someone will confiscate them. Only knowledge and experience cannot be taken from you - that is real capital.

Do you like life, and what is life all about?
I am happy that I am alive, even though my chances for survival are minimal.

THE ACADEMY OF ARTS

The Academy of Arts is located in the former Evangelical Church. Throughout the siege classes were held in the Academy and many art exhibitions took place there.

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