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Zlatko Ćosić's struggle between cultures and identity influences his art

Video artist Zlatko Ćosić has called St. Louis home since 1997, but it was his experiences growing up and eventually fleeing the former Yugoslavia that have most influenced his work. After the war in his homeland started, he was kicked out of the university and his father lost his job just because of their nationality and religion. They were eventually arrested and placed in forced labor for eight months.

When he faced being sent to the front lines to dig ditches, Ćosić escaped his home, falsified his identity by taking the name and uniform of a soldier and escaped to Belgrade. After three years he was allowed to emigrate to St. Louis where the culture shock put him back into the survival mode he had experienced in Yugoslavia. He had to learn a new language and fight harder than U.S. natives to get an education and jobs. He also struggled to learn the culture. Ćosić told St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh “I could not get rid of my own culture so there was always this balance between two cultures and that’s where this work was developed.”

Ćosić’s video “A Murmuration” is currently projected nightly on the front of the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (CAM). It is an example of his process of starting with images of nature and modifying them into abstract motion painting. It is based on a 20 second shot he captured of water from a fountain reflecting light from the sun with a ripple effect. That shot was repeated and manipulated over 17 layers with color and sound added to it.

The use of nature in “A Murmuration” and other work is influenced by Ćosić's time spent in forced labor cutting trees. “Nature was a really important element in forced labor because I was cutting trees every day and looking up at the sky and the trees and colors and just being in the forest was one way of coping with this disaster,” Ćosić said.

Ćosić's work also includes short films, video and sound installations, live audio/video performances and photography. Samples of that work can be found on his website

Related Events

What: Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis Presents "Zlatko Ćosić: A Murmuration"
When: Sept. 8 – Dec. 31, 2017
Where: Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, 3750 Washington Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108
More information.

What: Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis Presents "Re: Out of Diaspora"
When: Saturday, Oct. 14 at 1 p.m.
Where: Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, 3750 Washington Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108
More information.

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region. 

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Mary Edwards came to St. Louis Public Radio in 1974, just after finishing her Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She has served the station in a number of capacities over the years. From 1988-2014 she also taught an undergraduate class in radio production at Webster University. Mary was inducted into the St. Louis Media History Foundation Media Hall of Fame in April, 2017 and received the Gateway Media Literacy Partners' Charles Klotzer Media Literacy Award in 2012. Mary retired from St. Louis Public Radio in 2018, but still serves the station as a St. Louis Symphony Producer.

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