Zlatko Ćosić- Performance of Survival

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Zlatko Ćosić made a fake I.D. so he could flee to Serbia in order to escape the war. In doing so, he left everything behind, including his family. Yet, even though he avoided the front line, he spent the next three years fighting the battle of being accepted into another country.

Since 1997, Ćosić has come to call St. Louis his home. He came to the states with nothing but a chance for a fresh start. Since then, he has built a life for himself as a professor here at Webster as well as at Washington University.  Along with being an artist himself, he is also a curator for the new Angad Arts hotel opening soon.

Before the war, Ćosić remembers spending his summer in his hometown of Banja Luka, in what was formerly Yugoslavia, with his grandparents working by helping them gather plums to make plum brandy or grass to feed the cows.

“Those are hard memories, but they are also kind of pretty and fun,”  Ćosić says, “Growing up with my father, my brother and mother, it was always fun working and living.”  

In 1992, the war in Bosnia started when Ćosić was just 20-years-old. A year later, in the fall of ‘93, he and his father were technically arrested and taken to a place to perform forced labor for the military. After 8 months there, they were released in the summer of ‘94, entering a brief quiet period.

“I hated it because I knew something bad was going to happen and it did. They started arresting people again and taking them to the frontline to dig trenches,” Ćosić says. “And that’s kind of like a big risk of dying because at the frontline they shoot.  And I didn’t want that to happen so I escaped.”

For the next several days, Ćosić was hiding either with friends or at parks, constantly moving around until one day a friend of his suggested he create a fake I.D. to escape with another identity.

“That’s what I did,” Ćosić says. “I created a military I.D., took a picture of myself with the short hair in uniform, and faked the whole identity and escaped.”

When he was a child, he did not have the means or video technology to record his everyday life. Now years after the war, he spent six weeks with his family in Croatia and filmed their everyday life.

“It’s like capturing the life, the simplicity, even the boredom of life. How simple life is and we don’t even pay attention to that,” Ćosić says about the final video titled “Between Places.”

This piece, along with two others, “Colorboarding” and “Re-Birth”, can be seen at the group show being displayed at Sheldon Galleries. It opened on October 5, 2018 and will continue until January 26, 2019.

“This is not my culture, it’s a different way of functioning all together. I realized that I am going to have to perform,”  Ćosić says. “Eventually I learned for me to adjust to this culture, I’m in a way in a performance.”


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