I wanted to share my latest project which I shot over two weeks in March, which I probably hinted at in some earlier posts. This Time Tomorrow: Post-War Bosnia at the Crossroads is my attempt to describe a complex feeling that is settling in around Bosnia about its hopes for a prosperous future.
I have been introducing these pictures with this text:
Bosnia is facing a growing challenge to efficient and prosperous survival as time advances with a peace treaty functioning as a constitution. We read more and more often news stories about Bosnia’s instability and ill-prospects for a unified future with two ‘entities’ – the Federation and Republika Srbska – butting heads amongst entrenched political and ethnic divides. Citizens and the economy are inching toward a precipice prepared by political interest and ineffectual international oversight. War is not going to be the answer, but innocent people will suffer just the same.
But here is the longer version (with informative links!) that I hope will more fully explain the situation in Bosnia today:
For almost fifteen years since the Dayton Agreement the country of Bosnia and Herzegovina has stayed together through one of the world’s most complex political arrangements. Bosnia’s constitution, which mandates two ‘entities’ (consisting of the Federation of Bosniaks and Croats and the Republika Srbska of Bosnian Serbs), is an annex to a peace treaty. Further, the EU’s High Representative gives the international community final veto power over the country’s tripartite presidency. It is obvious to most observers that this inefficient and corruption-rich system cannot exist indefinitely. In recent months politicians from all sides are protesting frequently about the untenability of the current arrangement as a challenge to their sovereignty (as an ethnic group, an entity or, rarely, as the whole nation of Bosnia and Herzegovina). Old tensions remain, there are divided cities where one ethnic group doesn’t cross an invisible line for lingering fears, real or imagined, of conflict.
I hope these images can communicate the tensions that remain in Bosnia with high unemployment, political stagnation, a looming economic catastrophe and a pessimistic outlook on the future. Old interests and battles, frozen in 1995, remain relevant for much of the population and distrust is high. How will this nation, and the international community, reform and reconstitute one of the world’s more clumsy attempts at nation building?
This is a strange project for me, and of course I’m thankful for all the positive reviews so far, but I can’t quite wrap my head around these pictures. Maybe its the ephemeral thesis, trying to capture this feeling I was talking about, and I’m not convinced the pictures are successful in that vein. Of course they’re also a bit too focused on the Muslim portions of Bosnia, where I was living and where most of my friends are, but the ‘idea’ remains. I look forward to your feedback, questions or suggestions.. I’d love a conversation here on Dva.
Many thanks are due to my friend Jasmin Brutus for hosting me in Sarajevo and Dado Ruvic (who I just wrote about here on Dva) for showing me around Zenica. Two wonderful men and photographers, thank you both!