Being at the 2008 Balkana Art Colony in Mrkonjic Grad (a town in western BiH, in the Republika Srpska entity) has been such a wonderful experience! Last week, the Survivor Corps Regional Office for Southeast Europe, in partnership with LSN BiH, the Organization of Amputees UDAS, and the Banja Luka and Mrkonjic Grad municipalities, held this fourth Regional Art Colony.
This event aims to raise public awareness on the critical issue of disability rights as human rights, and on other issues such as social inclusion, post-war recovery, survivorship and reconciliation. Furthermore, artists get the opportunity to network and conduct advocacy-oriented capacity building activities.
They are given support in envisioning and planning (individually and as a group) how to efectively advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities in their respective countries. Participating artists also learn how they can support the Survivor Corps regional efforts to promote the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and promote survivorship and reconciliation.
This event included 20 artists with and without disabilities from the region, particularly from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Montenegro. Many of the participants were distingushed Balkan painters and sculptors. Although I returned to Tuzla a little earlier than expected, I had enough time to meet some very inspiring and remarkable artists/survivors.
These survivors have transcended their traumatic experience in various ways. They have used their enormous strength and positivity to create a better life not just for themselves, but for all of humanity. The art work they produce is a contribution to the community and the world.
Their efforts send a message of peace and reconciliation, and reaffirm the will to embrace life. This is what the Survivor Corps/LSN survivorship concept is all about. Some of the artists I met were students from art academies in Banja Luka, Sarajevo, and Belgrade. For the first time, the art colony had an artist with an intellectual disability as well.
There were many visitors at the Balkana Art colony, including the general public, NGOs, government officials, and several journalists who came to interview some of the artists.
Here is a video that I made for this event. Hope you enjoy it!
Posted Feb 16th, 2010