Bosnien-Herzegowina: Alma Suljevic

I am happy as I count each coin [raised for de-mining], and I think about how many square meters we will be able to clean with this money.

— Alma Suljevic

Alma Suljevic is a “land mine” artist who lives in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. During and after the war (1992–1995), she worked as a de-miner. A performance artist and sculptor, she uses these war-time experiences as basis for her artistic work. Currently, Alma is a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo. She has exhibited her work throughout Europe and raises awareness about land mines. She also raises money for de-mining.

Alma Suljevic was born in Kakanj, a little mining town in Central Bosnia, in 1963. She grew up in Sarajevo and has been living there ever since, including the period of aggression. Today, she is a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo, where she obtained her M.A. in sculpture studies. The professor under whom she graduated was killed by a grenade fired from Serb positions around the besieged city of Sarajevo in June 1992. During the war, Alma Suljevic made a sculpture that symbolized freedom and hope, a sculpture that is not forgotten by citizens of the biggest, most modern concentration camp in the history of humankind – a sculpture made of a tram that was left for 850 days at Skenderija (downtown Sarajevo), scene of the fiercest battles of May 1992. This work of art is, according to Professor Tvrtko Kulenovic, the “apogee of creativity within the besieged Sarajevo.” After the war, Alma was working on her sculptures, widely known as “Bleeding Grass,” when suddenly a tragedy occurred in Zenica: a family of “returnees” lost all their children. A land mine killed the two sons and one daughter. At this point, Alma actively started getting involved in dealing with the problem of mines and minefields in her environment. A creator without pretending to create miracles in art, she wished that no child would ever be killed again. Drawing and marking maps was the first step, but it did not satisfy her. She wanted to do more and to point out the issue of the fields of death in the very center of town more critically. With "Elektra 98," a video work, her active involvement in removing landmines in her country began. Her art makes people go through the painful stages of awareness: they do not know, they do not want to know, they must see.

Academy of Fine Arts Sarajevo