Zlatko Ćosić is a video artist born in Banja Luka, Yugoslavia, present day Bosnia and Herzegovina. His work spans from short films, video, and sound installations to theater projections and live audio-visual performances. Ćosić’s themes often relate to issues of identity, immigration, and the complexity of living in a new environment, concentrating on the necessity to embrace cultural differences and establish dialogue among people. His artwork has been shown in over thirty countries, for which he has received a variety of recognition. Ćosić currently lives in St. Louis and works as a multimedia producer, professor, and artist.
The emphasis of my work is to confront personal experiences, stress social issues, and create work that reflects the human condition. The work of artists is often connected to self identity. Being an artist is an identity in and of itself which supervenes other identities. The notion of identity is complex and composed of many elements but largely shaped by culture and experience. Some identities are chosen, and into others we are helplessly thrown.
For the displaced person, the loss of original culture and the assimilation of a new culture ignite confusion and emptiness. I, along with countless other artists who have been displaced and caught between cultures and identities, confront the difficulties through artwork. In search for meaning, the artist often reflects upon the past and present to connect ideas, experiences, objects, and people. Like memories, which are often fragmented and blurred, artwork can also be captured between the present and past, the concrete and the abstract. Altered and abstracted memories can interfere with present life and affect identity which is caught in between. As a result, one questions existence and attempts to understand the self and others.
Creating artwork is a method of expression and communication. Relating to certain characteristics of identity, people repeat and transform actions which become ritualistic. By being present and aware, individuals perceive and express their experiences. Elements of self happen through performance, a form of expression where one finds himself or herself in a symbolic system of differences. Within that semiotic system we perform and create meanings by utilizing symbols therefore enhancing the exchange of ideas.
It is in my nature to connect with people. Creating art is a path in achieving that goal. It is important for me to reflect upon my experiences of living through the war and my subsequent perspective on life. Creating visual art through the universal medium of film and video continues to be my journey in initiating dialogue with others. Reflecting upon Victor Frankl’s advice to “live as if you were living for the second time”, I feel as if my first life ended after the war and that I am now living a second life. I accept my past and what I have learned, knowing both will continue to impact my art.
Displacement after the war offered me a new stage to perform and learn. Living and creating in another environment provided me a chance to reinvent myself, a fresh start. The circumstances of relocation allowed for different opportunities to shape my identity and enhance my work. I continue to explore themes of altered and newly formed identities in an everchanging world, in an effort to inspire people to reflect, to foster communication, and to raise awareness about social issues.
COLORBOARDING, 2013, 3:40
A nontraditional treatment for color blindness. Or subconsciously, the video is a beautified ritual reflecting the physical and mental torture I lived through on December 2, 1992 in Yugoslavia.