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Source: Date: Sat, 25 Nov 1995, BOSNEWS digest 478X
This translation is prepared independently of its original source, thanks to the voluntary effort of Mevludin Nurkic. It is the sole responsibility of BosNet/BosNews and the translator(s), as are inaccuracies in translation.From 'GLOBUS' Number 253 from 13 October 1995 By INES SABALIC

Unconquered Bosnia Editors Note: This article, a BosNet reprint of a piece that ran in GLOBUS, brought out a lot of feelings. It shows the amazing tenacity and creativity of the artists of Sarajevo during a period of almost soul-crushing horror. Their project, an imitation, satirical LIFE magazine--remains both profound and historically significant.
The attempts by Time-Warner lawyers and lawyers of DC Comics to crush the artistic experiment, are without doubt one of the most disgusting episodes of lack of compassion we've ever seen. During the longest and bloodiest siege of a city in world history, a handful of unconquered Sarajevans created a work of indescribable beauty and tragedy, a true work of art. In the face of this, the lawyers of Time Warner and D.C. Comics taught us once again that we live amongst "the banality of evil" every day. The true horror of the Bosnian genocide may be that we live side by side with these people. In their attempts to crush out this artistic project, they shamed us all.

Time-Warner lawyers attempt to squelch project of besieged Sarajevo artists:

An art project, developed in Sarajevo during the siege, prompted the publishing house "Time-Warner", one of the most important in the press industry, to almost file a court case against artists from Sarajevo.The art project "Sarajevo's LIFE" has been produced as a magazine which looks alike--globally and in some details--to one particular number of the LIFE magazine from 1955.

On the front page of the original American magazine LIFE from 1956 is a young Hollywood star, Elizabeth Taylor, actress with then a brilliant future, a photo from the propaganda material for the George Steven's' movie "Gin", which was the last James Dean's movie, also. On the front page of the Sarajevo's edition is Lovely Amra, from the movie "The Last Tango in Sarajevo". Both beauties are dark eyed and dressed in white laced ball dress. Photographer Drago Resner, the author of all colour photographs andthe front page of the Sarajevo's LIFE, took photos of Lovely Amra, the twenty-two-year-old performing art student, this winter on the stage of the half ruined state theatre. Photo session lasted for four hours and Lovely Amra got almost frozen in the tiny dress on minus thirty degree centigrade. It was a very, very cold day in Sarajevo.

Suada Kapic, Sarajevo's LIFE chief editor, says that the taking of the front page was one the most exciting moments of this project. In the badly damaged building they were digging through what was left from the once very rich collection of the costumes belonging to the State Theatre. Amra had the last word; she chose costume of Camellia from the movie "Lady with Camellia". She took the dress to her home, washed and pressed it, which is a real challenge in the city without electricity and running water.

Project LIFE : In January last year Suada Kapic, a theatre director and before the war the author of a very popular TV serial, "Umijece zivljenja - The art of living", has been deeply involved in the project LIFE , which was published recently by the publishing house "FAMA". Suada Kapic and "FAMA" are the authors of the well known cult book "Sarajevo's survival guide", translated even to Japanese. Apparently, it was used by survivors of the big earthquake which destroyed the Japanese city Kobe.The office of Suada Kapic is one cold and dark room in a big city unit in the secesian style, in the city's main street. From this office Suada Kapic was organising the look and contents of her interpretation of the American LIFE magazine. Not only that the format of the magazine, colors, the fonts, the graphics are to be identical or as close as possible to the original American LIFE , but Suada was insisting that the quality of the paper should also be identical to the original one. The magazine was designed and produced in Sarajevo, then printed in Zagreb in a limited and unique edition of 1000 copies. The price is printed on the first page: 0,0 cents. You can not buy it; maybe get it as a gift from the author. In her office last year, Suada was explaining to me why she was doing the project LIFE : she was always been fascinated by American popular culture and it was the LIFE magazine that promoted a particular lifestyle and philosophy, which can rightly be applied to the war torn, destroyed Sarajevo. Nine months later, on the front page of the Sarajevo's LIFE are printed the words of Henry Luce, the founder of maybe the most important weekly in the history of the print press, from 1936: "Look at the life, watch the world, be a witness of the most important happenings, maybe thousands kilometres away, hidden, potentially dangerous, watch men and women that are in love, the children,watch and wonder, wonder and learn. "Proust's questionnaire Suada Kapic says today: "Through the mechanisms which West understands - through the glamour and popular culture, I wanted to bring them life from the sieged Sarajevo."

Apart form the LIFE from fifties, another favourite magazine of Suada Kapic is "Vanity Fair", American weekly, which was edited by Tina Brown (currently the editor of "New Yorker"). What "Life" was in fifties for millions of readers in America, that is "Vanity Fair" in seventies and eighties, for relatively wide international artistic and intellectual liberal layer.In promotion of uniquely ironical, but serious, postmodern philosophy Tina Brown introduced the column "Proust's questionnaire". Many famous individuals, from hyper-intellectual Harward professors to the writers like Gore Vidal or Milan Kundera, or actresses and actors like Brigitte Bardot, or simply rich like Ivana Trump, answered different questions. Those questions - what makes you happy, which colour you like the most, which restaurant is your favourite, what do you read right now - being so spontaneous, shameless, stupid and pretentious, mostly remind us to children lexicons - if it is still called like that.That kind of "Proust's questionnaire" Suada Kapic compiled for 100 citizens of Sarajevo. Same questions, which are usually asked in extremely rare and special occasions and only to very close friends, and while you are very young.Who would 'sane' ask anyone: "How would you like to die?" or: "Do you need hope to stay alive?" or "If there is a life after this life, in which form you would like to come back?" Or: "Is moral a virtue?", "Where and when you were happiest?", "Describe your lost illusions?", "What is perfect happiness for you?", "What is your biggest loss in life?", "Which is the biggest gain in your life?", "What are you afraid of in the world most?".These sometimes philosophical, sometimes puberty questions are coloured with specific Sarajevo's colour. One hundred Sarajevo's citizens were also supposed to answer to the following questions: "Describe one of your working days", or only "Sarajevo?" or "Can you give us a recipe how to stay mentally healthy", " What did the '92, '93, '94 look like?". "Do you consider that the past existed?".Then one poetic question: "What is your message from the end of the world, from the land of the last things?" For the end of its Proust's questionnaire Suada left that ultimate question hanging between the worst triviality and the deepest philosophy: "Do you love life? What is a meaning of life?"

Well, what is the meaning of life? One hundred interviews Sarajevo's citizens received Suada's questionnaire, regardless, or maybe just because of they were exposed to the danger of death from shells and being almost frozen in their homes, in every moment of every day in those nine months of Suada's project, they answered almost all questions. All one hundred questioned stars from Sarajevo's LIFE came from art, press, or theatre circles. As a reader of Sarajevo's LIFE I was very eager to find out how would answer to the questions Sarajevo's doctors or pub owners, in general people that are unknown publicly. But, Suada Kapic said that she did not want to ask those question just ordinary citizens of Sarajevo, instead through the form of the LIFE , she tried to present to the external world live intellectual - artistic scene of Sarajevo. At the same time, it is the best that everyone speaks about what she/he knows the best, and this environment is Suada's everyday world."How would you like to die?" Sometimes people from these environments - theatre, press, galleries - are affected and artificial, and it is a stunning experience to read answers to the subversive Suada's questions. Some of them even in that situation, after being for three consecutive years on the edge of life or death, kept the same intellectual pose, and their answers are just phrases. Some are deeply hurt and very cynical. More than one of the questioned, on the question what they would tell us from the end of the world, from Sarajevo, from the land of the last things, answered: "F... you all there", or "This what happened to us should happened to you. Those who survive - let them live." There are more of those who say: "Preserve your dignity", or "This is not the end of the world". Esad Kasumagic, designer, says: "Stock in candles, plastic canisters for water, batteries, dry beans, cigarettes, ..."Dr. Hajrudin Numic says: "Try to understand us taking into the account both God's and human laws". All questioned on the request from the author of the Sarajevo's project LIFE also answered to the question what is a perfect happiness. In Sarajevo lives eleven years old boy Dado Dragulj, a superb sketcher, talent in arts. That boy described the perfect happiness as "a perfectly straight line". Designers Bojan and Dada Hadzihalilovic imagine perfect happiness as a protection: "China Wall around Sarajevo". For actress Amra Kapidzic perfect happiness is "five meters of firewood in the cellar", and to the same question Miro Srdic, better known under artistic alias Elvis J. Kurtovic, answered: "90-60-90". Amina Begovic, an actress, would like to die "while dreaming". Elvis J. Kurtovic would like to be "hibernated forever like Walt Disney, but to feel warm"; actor Tahir Niksic, "standing upright", architect Ivan Starus would like to die "in the sleep", musician Ismet Arnautalic "of natural causes", and little Dado Dragulj answered "But, I do not want to die."

Two young colleges from Suada's team, Black Lejla and Blonde Lejla, the way she calls them, on the project LIFE , also answered to the questionnaire. Both born in seventies, they are students and members of an amateur student theatre. Lejla Hasanbegovic described her usual day in Sarajevo: in the morning she gets up from bed, hitch-hike to the centre of the town, office, cafe, hitch-hike back home, then washes her long blonde hair, than puts hear rollers, dries her hair in the oven, goes to sleep, gets up in the morning ...What is Lejla Hasanbegovic afraid of? "Nothing." To the question "What illusion did you lose?" both girls answered "I have not have any illusion ever."

The questioned are presented with black and white portraits. All photos are made in winter and regardless are they taken inside or outside, it is clear that everyone felt cold. Next to these portraits some interviewers exhibited their most favourite photographs from the former life before the war. One fisherman put a photograph with a big fish, souvenir from a Dalmatian island. Dzevad Sabanic, the first violin of Sarajevo's string quartet, who said that he survived by repeating score of Mozart's "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik", showed a photograph from the concert scene; Nermin Tulic added a photograph of his three kids, and one young actor gave his tourist photograph from the trip to South America, Peru.

Dollar fines for Sarajevo's artists: Says Suada Kapic: "When people see this Sarajevo's LIFE they are shocked at first. They are really surprised because it looks good, this LIFE , how we managed to bring to the end this project in Sarajevo in every and each detail. Namely, nobody expects to get a rainbow ice cream for present from Sarajevo."Actually, no one expects such a glamorous presentation of the extremely hard life of people who stayed alive just by pure luck, who survived 41 moths of the siege and to whom no one can guarantee that they are going to have the same luck tomorrow. Out of one thousand copies, that much is printed, and which will surely become antique, Suada Kapic handed out only about twenty copies in the last fifteen days. Among the first copies, she sent one to American LIFE , with the compliments.To her biggest surprise, afterwards she received an answer from a lawyer of the "Time-Warner" company, which owns the LIFE magazine.The lawyers from this big and profitable corporation, ultimately insisted from Suada to destroy all copies of the Sarajevo's LIFE ! The legal office sent a very cold letter in which they said that "we are extremely worried because of your intentional copy of the company's logo, LIFE 'trademark', including even the text of the founder of the LIFE magazine Henry Luce..." It continues, "Your action can produce a confusion ... so we ask you to destroy all copies or we will not have any other choice but to handle this mater in the court..." in this warning letter from the legal office of the "Time-Warner" corporation.

Playing part in the Sarajevo's artistic scene is an artistic couple, Bojana and Dado Hadzihalilovic, who work under the name "Trio". Under the shells, they played in Sarajevo by modifying some well known icons of the American pop culture, like Superman and Spieiberg's movie "Jurassic Park."

Steven Spielberg did not bother, but the "DC Comics SUPERMAN" company, also owned by "Time-Warner" corporation, reacted angrily: "We have noted that you've published unauthorised reproduction of the character of Superman, protected by copyright, and that you wrote the word 'Sarajevo' using the same font style and colour that are exclusively used for SUPERMAN, and all of that above the words: 'The biggest hero of the adventure cartoons in the world'! Apart from that, the caption under the figure on the page 11 indicates to us that the SUPERMAN redesign is done by 'Trio Sarajevo', and all of that is just a flagrant infringement of the copyright. ... You have utilised reputation and 'DC Comics' good will, and that is all together unfair competition."Someone can imagine the astonishment of Sarajevans when they have read, that, if they survive the war, they might end up paying huge dollar fines. Luckily, says Suada Kapic, as things stand now it looks that everythingwill be OK. Many respectful Americans, friends of Sarajevo, reassured Suada that theirs otherwise very expensive lawyers now ask to take this case, in which ruthless rich bureaucracy wants to sue the group of Sarajevo's artists-enthusiasts, if the "Time-Warner" lawyers decide to go to the end.At the same time, the "Time" magazine wrote about the Sarajevo's "Life" ("Time" belongs to the same corporation) - very positively. When they saw the scale of the media interest for Sarajevo's artistic group and realised that the chances of getting any money from them are very slim, the lawyers of the "Time-Warner" corporation decided to back down. First they told a reporter of the Reuters in New York, that they,the lawyers, have sympathy for Sarajevans and that is it not a question of trademark and logotype of LIFE magazine, but..."We are afraid that someone could think that we sponsored your LIFE or that it is by some other means related to your project. We are worried about that possibility of loosing our image of being very objective..."were the words of the "Time-Warner" lawyers. In the meantime, after the report in the "Time" magazine, they made another step back. They realised that it won't be good for the Superman reputation to fight against unarmed Sarajevo's artists, who think about the meaning of life and the meaning of perfect happiness.