Šejla Kamerić

Writings

Bosnian Girl by Šejla Kamerić

Sejla Kameric (b. 1976), one of Bosnia’s most prominent young artists, deals through her artwork with issues such as displacement and identity trouble. Using photography and video as dominant mediums, her work is equally concentrated on in situ actions.

Bosnian Girl is a B&W photograph featuring the portrait of the artist with the graffiti from the Srebrenica barracks written across it. A Dutch soldier first wrote the graffiti on the wall of the barracks in Srebrenica. (The Royal Netherlands Army was stationed in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a part of the UN Peace Operation 1992-1995 and was responsible for the protection of the region.)

Referring explicitly to the events of the Srebrenica massacre, the artwork nevertheless invites us to leave behind this specific frame of reference. By juxtaposing the Other (the graffiti text) with Oneself (the body) in an evident non-dialogue – a linear confrontation of the extremes with the subjacent violence – the artwork breaks through to a new notion of identity, hybrid, impure, artificially and contextually conditioned. The body, presented in a linear manner (condensed to an attitude) incorporates the graffiti thus thriving to a new identity. The “final” Bosnian girl (not the one from the graffiti, nor the personification through the artist’s image) exposes itself as a contradictory simulacrum of multiculturalism. Abandoning any form of reconciliation, the work contents itself with revealing the coexisting oppositions. The centre of the attention is therefore occupied by the very paradox of the non-possibility of dialoguing, the tight node of extremities. The re-written body (body invested with a quotation of the Other) can therefore be seen as a documentary trace, as an evidence of the very impossibility.

Pushing the superficial principle up to its extreme (the sophisticated development of a “beautiful image”, looking straight into the camera, lighting, make up – video Daydreaming, 2004 ), BG proceeds by mimicking marketing strategies (a design “twist”) that eventually become an intrinsic element of the work. They provide the work with an immense potential for proliferation: exposure through billboards, postcards and advertisements (Sarajevo, Berlin, Frankfurt, Graz, Leipzig, Split, Dubrovnik). Thus the work invades public spaces, becoming an integral part of the environment.

Kameric’s work traces different paths in order to apprehend the Other(public installation at Manifesta 3, Ljubljana in 2000, EU/Others ; Fortune Teller, 2001 ). She explores the interchangeability of the positions Oneself/Other , Us/Them and the irreducibility of criteria for these

Joško Tomasović

From the catalogue of the exhibition Norway 2005 – Andre/Others, Sørlandet Art Museum