Sevdah of Lost Identity

Sevdah of lost identity is a project which reflects on identity and past trauma as well searches ways of healing through research into Sevdah, modern interpretation of Sevdalinka song and symbols found in traditional tapestry of Bosnia and Hercegovina in form of music videos, live performances, drawings and photo collage.

The project arises out of personal experience with war. On one hand as a child refugee having escaped the conflict with my family and on the other hand from my experience of the assimilation processes by living elsewhere. Specifically, the project investigates and elaborates trauma caused by the last Bosnia-Herzegovina war of the 1990s, its post-war situation and consequences of forced displacement. All of these topics are explored using art and artistic practice as means for healing and instrument for a better understanding of the shared history and its identity.

Sevdah is a terminology to describe a way of living, it connects to a sort of pathos in regards to one owns life and manifests itself in dramatizing one owns being. The term comes from a Turkish word Sewda, meaning love.

Sevdah of lost identity is an ideological concept that I coined to describe the atmosphere of this project. In it, I use and work with traditional elements of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Concretely, the elements of musical heritage of Sevdalinka songs and visual symbols found in traditional tapestry. For example, Bosnian cilim, which dates back to Neolithic time, hides elements of ancient civilizations that lived in symbiosis with the land. The lyrics of Sevdalinka songs often describe the unbearable longing for the loved one or failed relationships but they also paint and give insight into living traditions, depicting social status of the protagonist or current political situation.

The red line that guides Sevdah of lost identity is the symbolism through re-interpretation and reflection on tradition to explain and better understand the present. I seek to address the ideas of identity in both collective narrative as well from my personal perspective.

Sanja Lasic, Turtle carrying world on her shoulders, 2019 / 50 x 70 cm / pastel on paper
Sanja Lasic, Haj od kako je Banja Luka postala, 2018 / Music video
Sanja Lasic, Cilim I, 2021 / 50 x 70 cm / Black marker on paper
Sanja Lasic, Cilim I (detail), 2021 / 50 x 70 cm / Black marker on paper