Sasa Masks

Every country I lived in changed my perception from the top down and vice versa, that’s for sure
— Sasa




Sasa, you lived in lotz of different places .. how do you define your homeland or what is currently your home?

I think its one of those 'home is where the heart is', clichés, but it really is that. I often defined home as a place where my mom was, a sense of belonging was the bond, and I think it is bond for many, parent child connection. Now, since she is gone, home is here and there, and everywhere. Hard to pinpoint especially since I travel a lot and go through motions, from city to city. Last week I was in Bajina Basta in Serbia and was taken by how beautiful it is, so I kept saying to my friends, this is my home today. At the moment home is in Banja Luka (Bosnia) via Malmo (Sweden). I got family in one and creative partner family in another.

Every country I lived in changed my perception from the top down and vice versa, that’s for sure
— Sasa


Which countries and culture have intensely influenced your work?

Hard to pinpoint, because every country I lived in added a layer to my work. Sarajevo where I am from is one of those large than life places, where east meets west, where religions and customs are intertwined into a confusing maze. Sarajevo gave me the complexity of the turbulent war and shit storm former Yugoslavia went through and my growing up on the streets, free. Furthermore Sarajevo is very cynical city, jokes are delivered hourly, sense of desperation is turned into laughing matter, which can be seen in lot of my work and my social media posts. I tend to play with words and images, serving layers my style and social commentary in I hope different way.



However my life in Canada was gentle sailing, work in a music shop, my college years and creative direction at design studio, amazing people gave me a sense of responsibility and also friendly approach all Canadians are know for. I worked really hard in Calgary where I lived for over nine years, building my sense of self especially through my four years at Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD), where I had freedom to delve into many aspects of art. I worked with ceramics, wood, plastic, paper, paint, acrylic resin, photo developing. Sadly, my generation was the last to learn photo film development at ACAD.


Since I lived in Japan as well, must say that Japan was step up in terms of my intention to be more productive. I found myself in a supremely small apartment words can't describe how small it was compared to my life in Canada and the amount of space I had in Calgary. This pushed me to create small in scale work but still be involved in the process, which is how my hand painted original t-shirts and apparel came about, and ten years later I have gallery representing my illustrations beautifully reproduced on apparel at Ladeclothing. Also the masks were the project where I could involve other people without needing too much space and my first series was all shot at my apartment against the while wall, next to the window, which was 100cm from the models, also masks gave me the mobility I needed to create anywhere I wanted. I just needed paper, scissors, model and camera to photograph it all.


Last but not least is Belgrade, nestled between Danube and Sava rivers Belgrade introduced me to triple threat as I like to call them, 3M photographers, Maja, Milica and Mina with whom I collaborated on more then one occasion. With them I actually stepped into stronger production mode, delivering higher resolution images and conceptually more rounded work. I am so grateful to have this time in Belgrade of three years, where I met some amazing people with whom I wouldn't have been where I am now.


My latest creative home is in Malmö where in 2015 I was part of the residency program at STPLN makers space, particularly återSKAPA creative reuse education center with whom I am working on a number of project, one of them being OTIH, fun way for kids to construct architectural chaos around themselves and this is project we have been working on for almost two years now and hope it will be out this summer in full swing.


How was is it in Japan? Did it changed you?

Japan was a different ball game from everything I expected,
— Sasa

Japan was a different ball game from everything I expected, something I often say when talking about Japan. Most people have romantic idea, which is perfectly valid, I had the same idea, about the life, people in general and cultural richness which to this day japan in many ways is unsurpassed. I believe being an island country they were able to bring a lot of influences from China and apply their spin and retain the quality throughout centuries. Not to say that other countries are not as rich, simply Japan has the 'weird' element of abstraction that other nations might not have. In that sense Japan has influenced me to see mundane and bizarre as unique. I can see that with my masks here in Bosnia, where last week I was shooting a friend and two young men were walking by showing disgust at her face and the mask she was wearing. They were repulsed by it, one of them was christening himself as if to protect himself from the devil girl with a mask. Something I wouldn't expect in Japan, especially with young people who are open to new and different. In that sense Japan was a great stepping stone in my evolution.


How did you camed to the idea for the "Sasa Masks"?

In Tokyo I was working for 7 For All Mankind, project was to dress their shop windows which I did, using gazillion paper constructs. Once the project was finished I brought home all of that paper and the idea was born with Yuki posing covered in papers.


Time will tell.
— Sasa


Do you think you influence Banja Luka with your work on the environment?

Time will tell.

Were there moments abroad that reminded you

Every country I lived in changed my perception from the top down and vice versa, that's for sure. As I have said in the previous answer, we all bring our projections along, depending on how much we want to see and be seen we will change and leave that country with a different perception. Every place I visited I have a different understanding, for sure.



What inspires you daily?


At the moment, spring in Banja Luka, city streets lined up with trees like no other and rivers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, canyons I had no idea we here.


Marina Nikolic