in pictures 13 Jan 17

Photographers Document Bosnia’s ‘War of Memories’

An exhibition of pictures by two Bosnian photographers offers stark images of memorials to people of all ethnic groups who were killed during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Natalia Zaba

The exhibition, ‘A War of Memories - Places of Suffering and Remembrance of War in Bosnia-Herzegovina’, which opened on Thursday in Belgrade, features 51 images of memorials to victims of all Bosnia’s main ethnic groups - Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs.

Photographers Nedzat Horozovic and Nenad Vukosavljevic and researcher Ivana Franovic spent three years investigating, visiting and documenting the monuments for the project.

“The aim of this exhibition and research is to open up a space for more constructive dialogue, in which people don’t accuse each other, but we see each other’s pain,” Franovic told BIRN.

They did the research with the help of war veterans from all sides in the conflict, who helped them locate some of the monuments.

“This was a very interesting experience for us, but also for some of them too. Several war veterans (of different ethnic groups) told us after we finished the research on the project, they managed to sleep the whole night long for the first time in 20 years,” Franovic said.

“The veterans we worked with were in a doubly hard situation, because on one hand they participated in the war, and on the other hand, they’re the victims of the same war,” Vukosavljevic added.

“All of a sudden some of them found the opportunity to speak about their suffering, but also to hear the other story. This is very hard, but liberating,” he added.

Documenting sites where people were killed was not a “comfortable feeling”, said Horozovic.

“I’m from Bosnia, and everything there only reminded me about all the suffering and pain caused by the wars in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s,” he explained.

The exhibition is part of a project which aims to investigate and analyse the politics of memorialisation and remembrance culture in Bosnia and Herzegovina, according to the Centre for Nonviolent Action, which organised the event.

A BIRN investigation in 2013 established that hundreds of post-war monuments and memorials have been erected across the Balkans but have often resulted in ethnic divisions being exacerbated.

The exhibition will be open until February 13 at the Podroom Gallery, Belgrade Cultural Centre, 5 Republic Square, Belgrade.

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