AN ASSISTANCE OFFICE FOR ‘PTS’ IS OPEN// 06. 1994. • EDITA SAMOUK// CITIZEN
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT
AN ASSISTANCE OFFICE FOR ‘PTS’ IS OPEN
‘In 1994, I became a member of Marie Stoups International. I became a member because in that period I wanted some change. I wanted to meet some new people and I tried to do it in that organization. In the period when I was a member of Marie Stoups International we mainly discussed our current situation, i.e. life during the war.’
• Kresimir Zubak becomes president of the Federation of BH. The session of the Constituent Assembly of BiH is completed.
• Amendment to the indictment against criminals in the city changes the charge from "opposition to authority" to "military rebellion". Military prosecutor Ismet Mehic says this is intended to calm tensions in the city.
• A fashion show, "Back to No Future," is held.
• The BiH delegation will not go to Geneva for peace negotiations because the Bosnian Serbs have not retreated 3 km from Gorazde.
• The Writers' Union of Russia gives the "Mihail Solohov" prize to Radovan Karadzic for his poetic works.
• Bob Dole, the Republican leader in the U.S., arrives in Sarajevo.
• Peace negotiations in Geneva: cease-fire signed.
• Sarajevans get water during the night, due to reduced power consumption.
• A BiH mountaineering expedition headed by Muhamed Gafic climbs Mont Blanc on June 8th, at 3pm.
• U.S. Congress opposition to Clinton: Congress urges the President to unilaterally lift the arms embargo on Bosnia.
• Larry Hollingworth, a British aid worker, is knighted. He has worked completely alone, without protection, walking in front of the first trucks in convoys with humanitarian aid.
• Inside the building of the burnt out National Library Mozart's "Requiem" is performed. Conducted by Zubin Mehta, Carreras sings to pay tribute to the fallen people of Sarajevo and those killed across the country.
• Sniper incidents occurr- a passenger is injured in a tram near the hotel "Holiday Inn". A UN APC, which is supposed to protect the tram, did not react retreated. A second UN APC arrives to shelter the tram.
• Sculptor Alma Suljevic builds "Centaurs" from the burnt out shells of trams.
• Haris Silajdzic is appointed President of the Federation BiH; his deputy is Jadranko Prlic, who represents Croats.
• Sarajevans attend foreign language courses. The "Interlingua" school operates throughout the siege.
• NATO is ready to send 50,000 troops to implement the agreement if an agreement is reached in Geneva.
• The Humanitarian Organization "Marie Stopes International" opens to counsel for "post-traumatic stress disorder." Based on their votes, most women choose aerobics as their treatment.
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.
Sarajevo's Art and Philosophy of Survival
Two and half years into war our city has stabilized. We have created a new city, new way of life and new philosophy of living in post-cataclysm environment. 2 000 shells daily brought destruction, theft, black market, death. The war destructed hardware of civilization – buildings, water, electricity, gas lines. But Sarajevo has not died. Under this destruction there is a thin line of purity. People work in spite of terror and nothingness to retain essential elements of this society and community.
We have survived so far because we integrated humour and innovation into every part of our life. The essentials of humanity have distilled into the obvious, such as food and water, and more subtly, community and art. Art significantly improved our spiritual strength, even in the worst imaginable conditions. All artistic forms, models, techniques, the new and the old, were important during all levels of survival, even the most fundamental. Creativity provided us with mental freedom, which in turn encouraged the spirit of tolerance and multiculturalism. With this renewed ethical approach towards living, our minds cleared and we once again felt like human beings capable of a free flow of emotions. Sarajevo is an example of freedom in process. Our ability to exit out of nothing is a mirror image to Steven Hawking's physical theory – the disintegration of stars creates the appearance of nothingness, but within this nothingness is a black hole, an exit.
The siege Sarajevo experienced will happen elsewhere in the world during the 21st century. Sarajevo is a hopeful example for the future, a self contained model of how an urban city anywhere can survive a modern cataclysm. The knowledge and skills accumulated during the siege has the potential to inspire and prepare the world for the 21st century.
Everything is possible. Subsisting on the bare necessities, Sarajevo no longer uses pesticides or creates much pollution. We are realizing America's New Age objectives of health, ecology, agricultural awareness, recycling, and self-sufficiency. But the perfect model of survival can only be realized through the support of the international community. Sarajevo needs the technology, education, and cultural information from rest of the world. And the world needs Sarajevo's experience and knowledge. We are all ready for the isolation to end and for this exchange to take place.
The Baby Universe Festival
Summer 1994, Sarajevo
He was born in 1948 in Sarajevo, where he graduated from the Pedagogical Academy. As an artist he presented numerous works at may individual exhibits, and received numerous awards. He is considered one of the most eminent Bosnian painters.
After a shell hit his studio, he used the material left on his table for an installation that he presented as part of the exhibit “Witnesses to Existence” (Obala Art Center). During 1993 he presented his works at numerous exhibitions and held matinees with children. In April 1994, he had one man show in the Sarajevo Kamerni Theater 55. In March 1994 in Kunst Halle in New York the exhibit “Witnesses to Existence” was displayed. At the same time the magazine “Times” published his installation.
It there were life after life, in what shape would you return?
As a Tybethian.
How do you describe perfect happiness?
As a normal psycho-physical stage.
What is you biggest loss?
Losing time on things that are not in favor of my living.
What is your biggest gain?
Every normal day is a gain.
When and where were you happiest?
I am happiest when I feel the sense and the appropriateness of my life.
What are your lost illusions?
Many humanistic-ethical illusions about the world.
Describe your day at work.
My day at work is getting acquainted with life.
What words don’t you use anymore?
Despite everything, I use them all, language is our identity.
In your opinion, is morale a virtue?
Where would you like to live?
How have you survived?
Thanks to human solidarity.
What are you afraid of?
Does the past exist for you?
This is the end of a civilization. What will the next one be like?
I hope that it will exist.
Can you give us a recipe for mental health?
How would you like to die?
We are dying every day.
Do you need hope to live?
What did ’92 look like, and ’93, and ’94?
How would you call this period of your life?
A necessary examination of the relation with reality.
Your message from the end of the world, from a country of last things?
Do you like life, and what is life all about?
Yes, and I don’t know what life is.