Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is a city that is little known and very often misunderstood.
This project came about following my first trip to the Balkans. I have been back many times since, but it is the experience of my first visit, when I set out full of expectation and found myself overwhelmed by the enormous charm of this city, which immediately caught my eye, that served as my guide for the creation of these shots.
The series recounts this experience from a variety of angles. The idea of focusing on this city stemmed from a series of accounts of the war, and the 1992-96 siege in particular. Its aim is to convey the less traditionally attractive aspects of Sarajevo: its wounds and those of its inhabitants.
The Alipašino Polje district overlooks Zmaja od Bosne, or Sniper Alley, so named because of its visibility from the sniper positions in the mountains around the capital.
Its large grey buildings, about fifteen storeys high, are among the ones most scarred by the grenade explosions. Twenty years on, the scars remain – a visible reminder of the pride of those who do not wish to forget.
This area is the real focal point of the project. The wide–angle views are juxtaposed with pale skies, predominant in the frames, which seem to want to encompass the entire scene. The buildings – square, geometrical, alienating – are not photographed from the bottom up to introduce a convergent perspective, but, rather, appear parallel to the observer: in this way, they form an urban pattern of repeated, potentially endless, shapes.
In the more close–up views the observer’s attention is drawn to the grenade holes on the outside walls. The general impression created by the motionless people and inanimate objects is that of a static equilibrium – of waiting for something unknown.
The post processing stage was geared at obtaining a high–key effect. The entire range of midtones was shifted towards higher values. The information at the extremes of the histogram was not modified, preserving the contrast and clarity of the details in the lower half, and dampening the top half. The saturation of the scenes was reduced, to accentuate the greyness pervading the environment.
The photographs in the Sarajevo series are printed on highly fibrous paper. The elongated format and use of a large passepartout help to enhance the sentiment conveyed by the series.