Un-Becoming a Victim: Between Historic Reminder and Hallucination, Geographical Document and Childhood Memory, Collective Tragedy and Personal Healing
To Un-Become is a multimedia art project which explores the concept of un-becoming through revisiting Operation Storm in Yugoslavia and its consequences over two decades later.
In April 2017, I retraced the journey of over 400km from my family’s first refugee shelter in Serbia to our former home in Croatia. For over two weeks, dawn to dusk, I walked following in reverse the same route which was taken by over 200,000 other refugees two decades previously during Operation Storm.
Homes in ruins surrounded by collapsing walls can still be found in Bosnia and in Herzegovina and Croatia. These images evoked in me a stream of suppressed memories and emotions and inspired elaborate visions that would otherwise have remained unprovoked.
This journey merged the evidence of war with my own memories, both actual and constructed; it created a ‘visual noise’ that became my truth during the walk. I decided to walk not to test my own stamina, but rather to surrender the experience to the will of nature. I tasked myself not to merely move between two points, but to temporarily adopt a way of being in which both facts and imagination merged.
In 2017, the border between Serbia and Croatia was once again a place where humanity was at its darkest. Thousands of refugees were denied entry to the European Union and were in temporary refugee camps in Serbia. Some of them were living alongside long-uprooted Serbian refugees facing over twenty years in exile. To Un-Become serves as a humble homage to millions of current refugees whose personal and collective tragedies I do not even claim to understand. In their movement across this land, the destinies of both refugee groups are forever soldered together in history. The destinies of their oppressors, meanwhile wander between war criminals and national heroes.
Saša Rajšić is an independent artist and researcher. He was born in Karlovac, Croatia, and like thousands of fellow Serbs from Croatia, fled his country during the war in Yugoslavia. He lived as a refugee in Serbia before immigrating to Canada in 2005.
Rajšić earned his BFA from OCAD University in 2011. Upon graduation, he received the Mudge Massey Traveling Award that enabled him to enrol in MA Studies at the University of the Arts Helsinki. He received the Jacques Dagenais Science in Culture Award in 2010 and Performance Studies International Enrichment Award in 2012.
Recently, Rajšić presented his work at Khalil Sakakini Cultural Centre in Ramallah and at the Annual Meeting on Law and Society in Toronto. He is a member of Displaced Peoples, a collaborative research network of the Law and Society Association, and Art and International Justice Initiative. His work has been exhibited in Italy, Sweden, Finland, Serbia, Germany, Greece, Palestine, Spain, UK, USA, and Canada, where he currently lives and works.