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Šejla Kamerić

*1976 in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, lives in Sarajevo.

Bosnian Girl

Bosnian Girl was originally planned as a series of posters for public areas. It captivated viewers with its brutal directness and the disturbing ambivalence of the image, the portrait of a woman looking at us front-on, as customary in fashion photography. Smeared on the woman's t-shirt: 'No teeth…? A mustache…? Smell like shit…? Bosnian Girl!'

The subject is the artist herself. The discriminatory phrases come from a piece of graffiti written by a Dutch soldier on the wall of the barracks in Potočari, Srebrenica in 1994/95. The superposition of the two narratives recalls attention to the massacre of Srebrenica in 1995 which could not and was not prevented despite the Dutch Army’s presence as representatives of NATO.

30 Years After

Like 'Bosnian Girl', '30 Years After' after also features a portrait of the artist. In full color, it has the aesthetic properties of images found in glamour magazines. White gloved hands with fingers dripping in lavish jewelry cover the face, making the woman faceless and blind. The sometimes brutal capitalism which has gained a foothold in many countries of the former Eastern Block has ultimately not led to a paradise where everyone can achieve happiness or at least be able to earn an adequate living. The image symbolizes how promises of wealth, glamour, and beauty can lead to blindness, facelessness and a loss of individuality.

Sorrow

'Sorrow' is Šejla Kamerić's third self-portrait to date. The artist is depicted naked and vulnerable. Her face is covered. Her head is resting on her arms, which she has laid across her knees in silent grief. There is a drawing by Vincent van Gogh showing the same pose. It is almost a female counterpart to the male pose seen in 'The Thinker'.

Toward the end of the last century, the collapse of the Yugoslavian multiracial state and striving for independence on the part of the former constituent republics led to brutal wars and civil conflicts, resulting in many deaths and unimaginable atrocities. These included: the war in Slovenia (1991), the Croatian War (1991–1995), the Bosnian War (1992–1995) and the Kosovo War (1999). Naturally, people's traumatic experiences during these periods and their efforts to come to terms with the deep scars are reflected in the visual arts. In order to combat racist, nationalist ideologies, the artists are working to create the foundations of a cultural identity that would satisfy the needs of a modern, open-minded, and tolerant society.

Fragile Sense of Hope

Šejla Kamerić also thematises the Siege of Sarajevo. Among the works dealing with her traumatic experience of those 44 months is 'Fragile Sense of Hope'. During the siege, the inhabitants of Sarajevo stuck packing tape across their windows to protect themselves from injury by glass shards, in case the windows shattered under the relentless shelling and sniper fire. The gold leaf in 'Fragile Sense of Hope', replicates the traces left by the glue of the packing tape, when it was finally removed at the end of the siege.

Glück

Glück, a film by Šejla Kamerić, was produced while she was on a scholarship at the DAAD in Berlin. One of the scenes may be reminiscent of the images and experiences seen during the siege of Sarajevo (1992–1995), which went on for almost 1,400 days during the Bosnian War. In a city terrorized by snipers, going out to fetch water was a necessity that could cost people their lives. Against the backdrop of snow-covered Berlin, the absurdity of this activity makes it seem to be a traumatic yet liberating experience.

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