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Bosnia and Herzegovina

[2021- 2023]


I thread slowly, and silently. With a vertiginous kind of attention - which then throws me into occasional moments of semi-conscious slumber. Perhaps because what is at stake is so big, in part so unconceivable… I need to be in the present; attend to things as they are. But what is? The world in front of me, around me, yes. Physicality in its immense opacity, in its immense delicacy.
Moving to places, listening, placing the body in a certain (dis-)position; seeing/not seeing. With the help of the machinic objectivity of the camera. Then there is that which moves the physical universe, among which beings and their needs, fears, curiosities, desires… There are thoughts and memories that fuel beings and haunt them, as well as their places. Capture that intangible ‘stretching’ within that which is the material world.
Every image is a symbolic threshold; the encounter of meaning with the ‘hard’ world. Although a photograph is very close to the hard world still, like an impress of its skin, moulded by light. A cut out, and now a foreign body, not that foreign-looking, but estranged.
And I’m thinking of the ‘window’ – that is the actual technical term – sawn out of a bone, which is what Dragana does in the 'International Commission for Missing Persons' laboratory in Tuzla, to send these ‘windows’ into unique and disappeared existences to the Netherlands for DNA extraction.
In this photographic enterprise here, no coding, rather a kind of discreet forensic poetry.

Silence carries so much. I know because I heard. Because I listened to some people speak. As they tried to tell me, articulate with those other bones that are of language, the facts as much as the ineffable that inhabits them and their places.
I thread carefully because the intimate, and ‘pudeur’ (‘shame’ or ‘shyness’ - there is no appropriate English translation) is one of the things I respect the most.
The intimate needs a sensitive environment to breathe, to give away and unfold its wisdom, to invent its very own language connected to a truth that is raw and singular. It needs gentleness for it not to be patched over by ready-made formulas and defensive barriers of armoured identifications. It is in these breathing cracks of being that language and connections re-invent themselves. We talked about that, with Amela and Ayla, as we sat on a hill perched over Sarajevo.
Holding on. To reality, to others, and to those who are gone… For the relatives of the forcefully disappeared, it is primordial to find their remains, because it is a proof of their existence.
Concretely, symbolically, legally.
Now 28 years after the war, around 8,000 missing persons are still unaccounted for (more than a thousand related to the Srebrenica genocide alone) […]