Poster by TRIO.
basements and in fear,” he says. “They had no chance to just be boys
and girls. The only thing that survived the war and the years of
political chaos since then was their spirit, their soul.”
Dingbat font by Nina Knezevic.
The month of August in Ajna Zatric’s Urban Calendar for the City of Sarajevo.
Zatric’s message is one of hope and optimism for a city that has struggled to define itself since the end of the war. Historically, Sarajevo has always been a multicultural city with a peculiar mix of Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian architecture, with Catholic cathedrals side-by-side with Islamic mosques. But the war resulted in a major demographic shift between the ethnic groups living in Sarajevo. In 1991, when the last official census in was taken, Muslim Bosniaks made up nearly half of the population. The second largest ethnic group were Eastern Orthodox Serbs at 38 percent, and Roman Catholic Croats made up around 7 percent of the population. Today, although there are no official statistics, more than two-thirds of Sarajevo’s residents are Bosniak, while the Serbian population has dwindled to a little more than 10 percent.
Poster by Nina Knezevic.
The old diversity and pluralism of the population, however, remains in Sarajevo’s creative culture. As Hadzihalilovic puts it, “There is a lot of energy, or more precisely, there are a lot of different energies. Maybe it’s because Sarajevo sits in the middle of no man’s land, so to speak, between East and West. It’s a place where different worlds and times meet. Sometimes you can watch Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations live, from your window, not just on TV. Maybe it is because people are tired of political and economic hardship and are using art to escape that unpleasant reality. But the fact is that Sarajevo art—and its art community—is very vivid, almost chaotic.”
Hadzihalilovic describes his students as “rebels with a cause.” “I think that they are more creative than my generation was. They see things in a different way. Design is their instinct, their language, and their strength. And they need to perfect all that in order to survive as artist—and not rent their talents to artless commercial campaigns.” Hadzihalilovic says that the world has become very different from the one he dreamed of as a young designer, but the city has remained a place of contradictions: “Sarajevo looks just like it did before (the war): tragic and funny, tough and desperate, irresistibly attractive, and completely lost. This is the best and the hardest place to live. We used to say Sarajevo is not a place of birth, it’s a state of mind.”