Artist draws inspiration from Bosnia's turmoil

Fri Sep 3, 2010 7:27am EDT
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By Adam Tanner

BANJA LUKA, Bosnia (Reuters Life!) - Ethnic tension and the haunting memory of war vex Bosnia 15 years after Europe's worst fighting since World War Two, but artist Mladen Miljanovic draws inspiration from such turmoil.

Working in a wide variety of media from painting to video, sculpture and performance art, the 29-year-old Bosnian artist ( is attracting growing international attention with his take on the absurdities of war and Bosnia's divide along ethnic lines.

"Culture in Bosnia generally needs to play a bigger role to connect those two opposite, separate, divided sides," he said in Banja Luka, the capital of the Bosnian Serb half of the country where he lives.

"Subversive art, eclectic art, is affected by the crucial problems, so if there are more problems, you will see that there are more, and better, eclectic and subversive art."

In one 2006-2007 project, Miljanovic, who served in the postwar Bosnian Serb army in 2000-2001, confined himself to a former military base for 274 days -- even skipping his grandmother's funeral to his family's chagrin -- to produce anti-military art.

One series of images shows the outline of human forms used for target practice, with bullet holes only outside targets. In another, he turned 30 army helmets upside down, filled them with dirt and started growing plants.

"It was one work showing how I can start to deal with my past, how I can transform my past," Miljanovic said.

In 2005 he invited Bosnian Croats, Serbs and Muslim amateur artists who had lost limbs in the 1992-95 Bosnian war to spend several days together producing art -- but failed to mention their former foes would also be present.   Continued...