Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere

I’ve been trying for the last two weeks to put together some sort of introduction to my ongoing project about the destruction of a large Roma camp here in Belgrade, and words have really failed me. I can’t even come up with an original title (this one is hopefully temporary). I have a lot to say about the community I’ve been photographing for four months and how the destruction of their camps was handled, and hopefully I’ll have something coherent to share soon. But I’ve been teasing and working the project too long not to share some of the images here, especially as this first chapter has ended. So you’ll have to wait for some more of the back story and future plans for the project, though I can point you to this news article for some sad details about the exodus, which I am continuing to photograph. Click on any of the images to go to my website which has a small edit of the project.

A boy climbs on to the roof of his family's home in the Stara Gazela camp. (c) Matt Lutton, 2009
The day before relocation a suspicious fire broke out in an abandoned home in the Nova Gazela settlement. A man who lives nearby runs to save her belongings in fear of the fire spreading. (c) Matt Lutton, 2009
Smoke from a trash fire looms over the Nova Gazela settlement. (c) Matt Lutton, 2009
Dusk in the Nova Gazela camp. (c) Matt Lutton, 2009
The first workers, many of them Roma themselves, arrive at the Nova Gazela settlement at 7am on August 31st to help with the relocation and destruction of the camps. (c) Matt Lutton, 2009
Bulldozers flatten homes in the Nova Gazela settlement while families, social workers and police watch from under the Gazela bridge. (c) Matt Lutton, 2009
Children play near a garbage burn pile in the Stara Gazela camp at dusk. (c) Matt Lutton, 2009
Boys play on top of a garbage pile behind their home in Nova Gazela, the night before the sweep of the Gazela camps. (c) Matt Lutton, 2009

10 Responses to “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere”

  1. Darko

    Just like you, I also have a bit trouble finding the right words for your work (even though I’ve seen a significant part of it).
    It’s just much more than some good photos – you’re capturing an important part of Belgrade’s history; you’re giving alot to those poor people too, by not letting their lives go unnoticed, and finally, giving insight to their culture to everyone else.

    Well man… it’s about time someone says thank you! 🙂

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  3. eric

    matt- as always love the work. its like the book about genocide sites by simon norfolk- “for most of it I have no words”- love your title. how come people getting fucked over by authorities and bigotry looks the same in any language ?

  4. Matt Lutton

    Eric,
    Thanks for the comment. While this is certainly about an impoverished group of people who are segregated and often the victims of racism, this isn’t my focus with the project. I’ve had this reaction from a number of people, and I’m working on getting a piece of writing attached to the post to help clarify: I am more interested with the idea of community and how it will be changing as this camp is dismantled and the ‘citizens’ spread to all corners of the country. This is unavoidably against the backdrop of the horrible, nausea-inducing camp they lived in and the unfortunate circumstances many will be forced in to next. My question really is about feeling nostalgia or regret about the demise of a horrible place, mourning the loss of the community while applauding the end of a disgusting place to live. How does this contradiction work, how should we treat it?

    That is, yes there is an air of people being victimized by the state, but what else is there to be done? They’re living on land that needs to be used for a larger public good (the reconstruction of a vital bridge, on the only highway from Vienna to Greece), and they’re living in appalling conditions. Could the state have done more to prepare the citizens for the operation? Of course, and they could have provided a different solution for their new homes. But this is also a nation in (economic and soon political) crisis, when is there ever enough support for the poor under the best of conditions?

    So, it is much more complex than ‘poor people getting fucked’. This place needed to go away, it is a net positive for Serbians, but it is tragic that a historic community will be lost. But I believe it is unavoidable and preferable to another generation growing up there.

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    […] Archive and included some images in the gallery above, so you can catch up on the project since my last post about the project on dva. I am continuing to photograph this story, following the families of the Gazela camp as they […]

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  8. Dave Goyard

    Your picts have tell everything in there.

  9. antonio

    Pela primeira ves a estar com vosco a partir da internet.

  10. antonio joao chala

    so estudante e quero estudar para acabar com a corropçao. Nao avera professor apedir dinheiro no meus colega e nem prami.

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