Only Unity has emerged from five years of living and working in the Balkans; it is my personal response to the confounding atmosphere of the region. My project presents a psychological portrait of Serbs from across the Balkans as they confront a radically changed landscape within physically contracting borders. Serbia is emerging from the hangover of the 1990s, where atrocities were carried out in their name just across newborn borders, and constructive reflection about the consequences of those years is long over due.
I am photographing details of society that both reflect and undermine the popular Serbian creation myths. Many issues are rooted in the complicated phrase “Only Unity Saves the Serbs” which was popular in the narrative of mass political manipulation during the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the wars that took place in its vacuum. Serbia is still recovering from the post-traumatic stress of those years, leading to a national confusion about their identity and a productive path forward.
There are many elements that contribute to a hostile and sometimes desperate atmosphere in Serbia today. But there too are moments that show healing and a glimpse at a different future than many have seen for themselves in the last decade. The growing pains of this nascent democracy must continue to be carefully documented and explored, as the battles of the 1990s have yet to be finally played out. I’ve experienced alarming apathy and lack of compassion from many youth across the Balkans, and I hope to confront them directly with a different picture of the countries and history they will inherit. I hope my pictures will help bridge local borders, real and imagined.
March 1996. Near Srebrenica. Photo: Gary Knight—VII
This photograph is taken in a ditch at the foot of a mountain path that connected the Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica to Bosnia. Thousands of men fled for their lives down this path and across the adjacent fields after the fall of Srebrenica in 1995. Approximately 8,000 men and teenage boys from the enclave were killed as they fled by Serb forces who poured machine-gun fire, anti-aircraft cannon and artillery down on the path. Some survivors spoke of Serb soldiers in white coats coming out of the forest with syringes and injecting them.
Theodor Menon, the presiding judge of the Appeals Chamber at the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugolsavia, made this statement about Srebrenica: By seeking to eliminate a part of the Bosnian Muslims, the Bosnian Serb forces committed genocide. They targeted for extinction the 40,000 Bosnian Muslims living in Srebrenica, a group which was emblematic of the Bosnian Muslims in general. They stripped all the male Muslim prisoners, military and civilian, elderly and young, of their personal belongings and identification, and deliberately and methodically killed them solely on the basis of their identity.”
Courtesy Doug Rickard—Stephen Wirtz Gallery, San Francisco
Doug Rickard will discuss his most recent series, A New American Picture, which consists of color photographs of American street scenes, located using the internet tool Google Street View. Over a period of two years, Rickard took advantage of the technology platform’s comprehensive image archive to virtually drive the unseen and overlooked roads of America, bleak places that are forgotten, economically devastated and abandoned. Collectively, these images present a startling photographic portrait of the socially disenfranchised, providing deeply affecting evidence of the American Dream inverted.
Cindy Sherman: Characters, Art 21 | see photos here on LightBox
Episode #139: Cindy Sherman reveals how dressing up in character began as a kind of performance and evolved into her earliest photographic series such as “Bus Riders” (1976), “Untitled Film Stills” (1977-1980), and the untitled rear screen projections (1980).