05/18/2006versione stampabileprintinvia paginasend

To make people think, two Danish artists cover Belgrade with posters against Mladic
No one had seen so many posters about Mladic on the walls of Belgrade since the war. Giant portraits covered with a series of green stickers with straight messages: “We know where you are: Surrender;” or “We know you’re worried: Give up.”
Militant postering. Ratko Mladic, the Serbian general who commanded the Bosnian Serb militias during the bloody Balkan wars of the 1990’s, is not the type to be scared by a poster. But it makes a statement to spread such stark images throughout a city that still hasn’t come to terms with its past. The project comes from two Danish artists, Jan Egesborg and Pia Bertelsen, both in their early thirties. “We don’t want to generate hatred or conflict with our posters,” says Bertelsen, “We only want to urge people to spot, look, and think.” It’s an urgent issue; on May 3, the European Union suspended negotiations with Belgrade on the plans to begin the admission process for Serbia and Montenegro to join the EU. The talks were halted because the Serbs have not handed over Ratko Mladic to the war crimes court in the Hague for his actions during the war. Carla del Ponte, magistrate of the court, directly accused the Serbian government of not making efforts to capture the accused war criminal, who is alleged to have directed the massacre of eight thousand Bosnian Muslim civilians in the enclave of Srebrenica in 1995. Egesborg and Bertelsen wanted to bring attention to Belgrade’s neglect, and next to the pictures of Mladic appear images of the current Serb president, Vojislav Kostunica, carrying a harsh accusation: “We know you’re a coward.”
A poster for Everyone. “Kostunica is putting his country’s future at risk,” says Bertelsen, “We say he’s a coward because he hasn’t kept his promises.” This is the second time the two artists have covered Belgrade with posters. The first time was last March 17, during the funeral for Slobodan Milosevic, the former Serb dictator, who died in his cell in the Hague. Fifty thousand Serbs gave a hero’s welcome to the body of a man most historians consider to have been responsible for the Balkan wars. “People reacted in a lot of different ways to our posters,” Pia remembers, “Some smiled, some agreed with us, but lots of people became furious and insulted us. Overall the reaction was positive, because everyone stopped to think, which is just what we wanted.” The two Danish artists have provoked imitators throughout the world. One is Claude Rohland, who put up antiwar posters around Baghdad itself, and posters have appeared ion Zimbabwe against controversial President Robert Mugabe. Although some may disagree with the message, the action is original and entirely civil. The Mladic situation appeared to have come to a solution on May 7, when special Serbian Police seemed to have captured Mladic, but once again the hunt came up empty.
Christian Elia