Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Three Monkeys

Two guys and one girl are walking on the street and eating bananas. Nothing special about that. Right?

Look again. 

They are painted as monkeys. They act like they are monkeys. People are following them, they are excited about this engaging art form that they have not been familiar with.

The three monkeys are actually three young artists from Sarajevo, who decided to start doing body painting and engaging art two years ago. They formed a group called "Color crew". 

They came up with the three monkeys act last autumn, right before the presidential elections.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina there are three presidents: one for each nationality (Bosniak, Croat, Serb). The presidency circulates between them in eight-month periods. The system, however, is not functioning at all. The three presidents can't agree on anything.

"When we started doing the three monkeys, people instantly recognized who we were playing. The reactions were very positive", artists said.

The artists argue that the presidents are exactly like monkeys, they don't do anything. By doing body painting and street art they want to make people think and talk about the impossible situation in Bosnia. 

"People vote for these monkeys! We want to make them think. If we can change the minds of even a few people, we're happy", the group told me.

But change in Bosnia might be quite difficult to achieve. Things are very complicated. The more I learn about it, the less I understand.

I interviewed a Bosnian writer and an art patron Melina Kameric today. She opened the world of Bosnia and Herzegovina for me in a way I hadn't entered it before. And when it comes to my last blog post, she disagreed with not talking about the war anymore.

Kameric argued that almost all of the problems they have as a country and as a government are because of the war, and that 16 years is not enough time to make amends with it - especially when most of the topics are tabu to talk about.

"We can not move on until we have dealt with the war properly."

The country is strongly divided between the three nationalities: there is no such thing as a Bosnian national identity. Five centuries ago people of Bosnia were called Bosnians; now they are either Bosniak, Croat or Serb - or Muslim, Catholic, Orthodox or Jewish.  

Building one common national identity is going to be key element in the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina, if they wish to succeed in having a functioning country.

"War demands sacrifice of the people. It gives only suffering in return."
- Frederic Clemson Howe

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