– Art reviewPHOTO: ‘Temporary Graffiti: Banja Luka – St. Louis’ contrasts views of the artist’s home in the U.S. and the former Yugoslavia and is one of the video art works in ‘Still Adjusting’ at Gallery 210. Photo by Cate Marquis for The Current 2014 ©
By Cate Marquis, A&E Editor for The Current
Artist/filmmaker Zlatko Cosic titled his art exhibit at Gallery 210 on the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus “Still Adjusting.” Which raises the question, “Still adjusting to what?” The artist addressed as much in his gallery talk at the exhibit’s opening reception on January 25.
The short answer is his experiences escaping from the Bosnia war as a young man and life as a refugee in St. Louis, as Cosic told the overflow audience that packed the Gallery 210 lecture hall. It is a lot to adjust to, but Cosic’s journey took him to a scholarship and visual arts degree from Washington University and a career as an artist and filmmaker. It is a tale Cosic tells with a sense of the absurd and dry humor, both in his talk and through the art exhibit at Gallery 210, on display through March 22, 2014.
“Still Adjusting” is an installation of several video art works. Some are large projections on the white walls of Gallery A and others on mid-sized video screens. The lights are dim in the gallery, apart from a couple of spotlights, to better see the videos. One spotlight falls on a pedestal in the center of the room, which contains the one collage, “Identity Artifacts,” which Cosic created from documents he collected as he navigated his escape from the Bosnia war. Eerie, slow, vaguely techno music plays in the gallery, creating an unsettling effect.
The works in Cosic’s exhibit reflect the experiences he described in this lecture. The focus on nationality and religion during the war left Cosic with a preference of avoiding such labels, embracing the more generic term Yugoslavia, a now-vanished country.
The two videos just within the gallery reflect two sides of Cosic’s experience. “While Standing I Wonder If” is a black-and-white still image of the artist standing on a forested hill. Suddenly, the still image moves, jumping straight up in slow motion, a movement the artist associates with the feeling of freedom. The other work, “Only the Chimney Stays” is a split-screen collage of images from his childhood, family videos, images of ruined abandoned buildings and peaceful natural scenes. The title comes from Cosic’s father, who said that when a house is bombed, only the chimney remains.
Two of the videos have narration and music, which gallery visitors use headphones to hear.
One intriguing large video installation, “Temporary Graffiti: Banja Luka – St. Louis,” is a pair of videos projected on adjoining walls in a corner of the gallery. On one wall, there are images of St. Louis architecture and familiar sites, particularly the Bevo Mill area at the heart of St. Louis’ Bosnian neighborhood. On the neighboring wall are images of Cosic’s native town Banja Luka. Images alternate between those that show contrasts between the two places and those where it is hard to tell which is which.
Another striking installation is “Without a Number,” a pair of projections on either side of a center wall in the two-room gallery. On one side, we see the view out the window on a house on a leafy rural road. On the other side of the wall, we see the view from across the street, looking at the window in the other view. The effect of one or the other is peaceful, bucolic but taken together they are more unsettling. Cosic said the piece was inspired by the time Cosic hid in his parents’ house, only able to look out that window, while their unfriendly neighbor across the street spied on them.
© The Current 2014