Bosnia, all is calm
Could a place be able to tell something? Could a past suspended come back to life when the sunlight alights once again on its spaces? Is it possible to talk about war without necessarily showing evident and bloody dramas?
Two homes tell their stories: that one of their lives, the other of a war leaving them alone, and yet miraculously intact, and yet safe from vandals and jackals; and the one of the last 16 years, during which time stopped, and nobody came to settle. It’s necessary to get in on tiptoe, not to disturb that feeling of quiet and immobility, not to lift too much dust settled on furniture and memories, covering everything with the patina of a time that is gone and won’t return anymore. In the distance echoes of a waltz, or a Bach’s prelude, or a folk song that someone has tested again and again.
These are photographs that come up opening a drawer in the same homes they are portraying; they tell their version of the war through the treatment they’ve undergone, not an immediate proof in the images (where war is absent), but its presence on their patina, mistreated and raped with water, smoke, dirt, ash, chemical substances. A double reading surface that recurs once again in this story.
The narrative choice brings us in the former Yugoslavia, in that Sarajevo that gave birth to the Great War, and in that Mostar famous for being Ottoman much more than European. In a Sarajevo where too many buildings fall under snipers’ gun sight, in a Mostar that was too near to the front-line, and to the ethnic cleansing. Two cities, a country, that it’s difficult to remember as war zones, but they were, and that it’s also difficult to imagine as the wonderful places they were, not too much time ago.
Human element is almost totally absent, for not influencing the observer’s impression as well as testifying a story that talks about abandon, fear, and escape. There’s only one exception (another double), two persons arrived from the present, overlooking from the frames of the past, a personal connection, the memory becoming an unforgettable reality, even if now is different, and in another part of the world. There is no sign, also, of the typical and usual elements, the ones easy to recognize, of the war set design. Just little glimpses, not the ones, bigger and more visible, that report of death and destruction, abuses and violence.
Little stories, almost without relevance if compared to the big numbers of people privileged enough to afford a flight from a war. But forced to give up their own lives and leave everything, their dens, their habits, the usual and dozy geography of the time passing by in a territory that is possible to recognize as his own, and which oneself belongs to. For surviving.