Tag Archive: balkans


SEE New Perspectives Masterclass

In 2010, fifteen young South-East European photographers and three masters met in Berlin for the SEE New Perspectives masterclass, organized by World Press Photo and Robert Bosch Stiftung. After the first meeting in Berlin all of the photographers were given a grant to photograph a story within the region but outside of their home country.

The resulting projects are now being exhibited in Belgrade, Serbia (on display until December 14 at the ARTGET gallery on Trg Republike) after debuting in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina in October. The show will soon move to Zagreb, Croatia and Berlin, Germany. The exhibition features an interesting concept of displaying oversized “magazines” each devoted to one photographer’s project, with only one image from each project along with the photographer’s name on the wall.

You can see all of the stories produced in the masterclass on the SEE New Perspectives website as well as more information about the organization of the project.

The photographers are:
Andrei Pungovschi, Romania
Armend Nimani, Kosovo
Bevis Fusha, Albania
Dženat Dreković, Serbia
Eugenia Maximova, Bulgaria
Ferdi Limani, Kosovo
Jasmin Brutus, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Jetmir Idrizi, Kosovo
Marko Risović, Serbia
Nemanja Pančić, Serbia
Octav Ganea, Romania
Petrut Calinescu, Romania
Sanja Jovanović (née Knežević), Serbia
Tomislav Georgiev, Macedonia
Vesselina Nikolaeva, Bulgaria

And the Tutors are:
Regina Anzenberger, Austria, artist, curator, photographer’s agent, gallerist
Silvia Omedes, Spain, president at Photographic Social Vision Foundation
Donald Weber, Canada, photographer VII Agency

I asked my old friend Jasmin Brutus, a Bosnian photographer who was part of the masterclass, to paraphrase the statement he gave at the Sarajevo opening which expresses his feelings about the years-long masterclass project: “We [the participating photographers] all returned with nice small toolbox which our employers will never know how to utilize. So, I think experience in the masterclass is very useful for my personal projects and for my job is almost useless. I gained new skills and my old skills got enhanced. But, for me the most important thing is that I met a group of really great people and great photographers.”

Congratulations to my friends from around the region who were able to take part in this interesting project and many of whom were able to produce terrific photo stories that may otherwise never have seen light or been published. I encourage you to explore the work published on the SEE New Perspectives site or peruse the photographers’ own websites linked above.

The video below features interviews with all of the photographers about their work and experience in the masterclass:

SEE New Perspectives from Balkan Photographers from World Press Photo on Vimeo.

Balkans Update: Kosovo to Bosnia

So, I was not in Perpignan last week like I said and planned to be. A story that I have been working on since April about the displacement of significant and entrenched Roma settlements here in Belgrade hit its climax last Monday and I decided to stay here to photograph. I look forward to sharing part of this important story soon.
But first I wanted to share some new images that I mentioned a few weeks ago from my Kosovo New Born project, which I began in 2007.

Inside the Stan Trg mine, part of the Trepca complex in Mitrovica, Kosovo. Once employing up to 300,000 people, the operation is on a skeleton crew after the war struggling to remain viable.

Inside the Stan Trg mine, part of the Trepca complex in Mitrovica, Kosovo. Once employing up to 300,000 people, the operation is on a skeleton crew after the war struggling to remain viable.


I returned to the youngest country in the world again in early August to get further into the periphery of issues and locations that are at the heart of Kosovo’s political and economic stability and viability. While it was a difficult trip, with some closed doors and unproductive scheduling, I am pleased that many pictures are contributing new visions and perspectives on the broader sentiments I am hoping to capture with this project.

The next step for me is to (frighteningly enough) prepare a book dummy for this admittedly unfinished body of work. I started my degree at the University of Washington six years ago and I’ve decided that it is high time to finally graduate. So I endeavor to finish my last requirement: a thesis. As a multidisciplinary exercise for my degree in the Comparative History of Ideas program I am attempting to create a historical, documentary and scholarly approach to Kosovo in the form of a more permanent contemporary photographic document. Hence my interest in Peter van Agtmael’s new book 2nd Tour, Hope I don’t Die, which I think works on much the same level. As this project comes together I’ll have more to share, though I’m sure it will take more time than I’ve budgeted in my head.

Along the banks of the Ibar River in the divided city of Mitrovica, Kosovo.

Along the banks of the Ibar River in the divided city of Mitrovica, Kosovo.


Also in Balkan news, I’ve seen (and have been sent) a number of increasingly alarmist articles about the dire state of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In my opinion, and that of many smart colleagues here, while it is not a happy or stable place Bosnia isn’t about to explode either. As a western writer friend here opined, this is as much a cry for relevance by Balkan commentators in this short-attention span world as anything else (and as someone with interest in keeping eyes on the important stories here, I’m not exactly against this). So that said, the continuing slow decline of Bosnia’s political foundations is worth paying attention to. I’m continuing to photograph some of these ideas with my project This Time Tomorrow: Post-War Bosnia at the Crossroads and will try to provide updates from my perspective here in Belgrade.
A boy in the Roma Mahala neighborhood of Albanian-controlled south Mitrovica. The area is a development and resettling project for Roma who were displaced by fighting and ethnic tension in the 1999 war in Kosovo.

A boy in the Roma Mahala neighborhood of Albanian-controlled south Mitrovica. The area is a development and resettling project for Roma who were displaced by fighting and ethnic tension in the 1999 war in Kosovo.

Special Print Sale: A Balkan Portfolio

I sent this out to my mailing list last week but I wanted to extend the offer here to the Dva community.

An exhibition of mine titled “A Balkan Portfolio”, which has been hanging at the offices of the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Seattle for the last year, is ready to come down and I still have some of the framed photographs available for sale. These are of course archival prints and museum framing put together with my favorite small-business partners in Seattle. Due to the fact that I’m overseas I don’t want to burden my family with storing these framed images long term so I am offering them at a discount to try and pass them on to my friends and family who are interested in having some of my work. Click this link to see a gallery of available prints.

Young cow herders work and play in a polluted river near the Albanian town of Vushtrri, Kosovo. 2007

Young cow herders work and play in a polluted river near the Albanian town of Vushtrri, Kosovo. 2007

I unfortunately have only one framed print of each image but there will be the possibility of producing more prints if you expressed interest in a sold image. This offer applies only to these individual images; if you are interested in purchasing a print of any of my other photographs please be in touch I would be happy to discuss options with you. Each of these pictures is available for $250 and I can offer free delivery in the Seattle area and we can certainly arrange shipping around the country if need be. 11×14″ image with 3″ matting and matte black wood frames. Send me an email (or leave a comment here if you want me to contact you) – luttonm (at) gmail

Thanks again everyone for your continued support of my work and this website, it is very much appreciated. Please feel free to pass on the link to whomever you think would be interested. By the way if you want to get these sorts of updates earlier, become a ‘fan’ of mine on Facebook… yea I went there.

A garbage fire in the tunnel road of the Dardania neighborhood of Prishtina, Kosovo. 2007

A garbage fire in the tunnel road of the Dardania neighborhood of Prishtina, Kosovo. 2007

Beograd

Aye, I have been procrastinating on this post for far too long. I landed in Belgrade a week ago and have been trying to find the words to sum up what this move is all about and what I’m planning. Maybe I’m still figuring it out for myself.

I am currently staying with my friend Jovan of the wonderful XAOC group which we profiled a little bit with an interview with my good friend Djordje Jovanovic. Near the center of Belgrade and a nice flat (minus their fun but overly energetic and yappy dog named MimiNPCRambo), but I’m pining for my own place… unfortunately, finding a decent apartment here at an ok price is hard to do. Patience is called for. Patience is my life right now.

Leaving New York, Tribourough Bridge. 2/4/08

Leaving New York, Tribourough Bridge. 2/4/08


New York ended beautifully with a number of terrific and very encouraging meetings from diverse magazines and agencies, from Vanity Fair to GEO and Getty (and a lucky last-minute ticket to see the Colbert Report tape a show). Hopefully things will come of the solid reviews soon. As I will expand below, there is a lot that I have cooking here in the Balkans and Russia that I am incredibly excited about and I hope I have the chance to fund them and then get them published. DVA will absolutely be a big part of the latter, at least in the short term. I plan to post updates on my stories, travels, assignments and thinking.
Knez Mihailova Street, Belgrade. 2.12.09

Knez Mihailova Street, Belgrade. 2.12.09


This move to the Balkans is both a long time coming and a sudden impulse decision. Back in 2007, when I was on a Balkan study abroad program from the University of Washington, I had a chance to visit a number of cities in the region and then stay on to live and work in Kosovo. From my first few days in Belgrade then, in April 07, I knew that this was a city that was meant for me (like New York). From that moment I knew that I could, and should, move here to pursue my work. I visited again in May/June 2008 and it definitely strengthened this idea … (to utterly rip off my friend Boogie’s phrase, and ironically at that) … I felt that ‘Belgrade Belongs To Me’.
Kralice Natalija Street, Belgrade. 2.12.09

Kralice Natalija Street, Belgrade. 2.12.09


Ultimately there was not enough happening in Seattle for me and it is simply too damn far away from any of the stories I’m really interested in doing right now. Odd, but there really are more work possibilities for me outside of the United States (I see friends moving to the Middle East these days too; the American photographer diaspora?) and hopefully being ‘in a small pond’ will provide me a strong if not lucrative start to my international career. I’ve got a lot of faith, there are dozens of positive signs and I am receiving a lot of support (if only it were the financial kind), so I am very optimistic of success and important pictures. Time will tell, I am and will be forced to remain patient.
Belgrade. 2.12.09

Belgrade. 2.12.09


I made the decision and bought my ticket (first to New York then to here) about two weeks before I had to leave. Added to the impulse, and hurry, was the last minute decision to go to Washington to cover Obama’s Inauguration. So in a rush I packed up my books, gear and some clothes in Seattle into three bags and hit the plane running; still can’t believe I packed up my life and got away so quickly. Maybe this is the best way to do it, maybe not, but it is working for me. Since moving back to Seattle in the summer of 2007 I’ve been living lightly and without many strings, hoping to be able to get on the road should the opportunity arise. Unfortunately, it really didn’t so with extremely small savings I bought this one way ticket. Now, I’m here trying to find an assignment or two and am prepared to pick up an English teaching job. Yea, wish me luck :)
Knez Mihailova Street, Belgrade. 2.12.09

Knez Mihailova Street, Belgrade. 2.12.09


The short term plan is to head to Kosovo on Saturday to be part of the first anniversary “festivities” that will happen around the country. On February 17 2008 Kosovo unilaterally declared its independence amidst a strange international reaction and a strong festive and emotive party in the streets. Conventional wisdom amongst journalist friends, Kosovar and international, is that there will be similar actions this coming week, and maybe some stronger Serb reactions in Mitrovica and Serbia proper. No strong rumors yet to anything ‘big’ happening but it is a nice story and probably a very good follow-up chapter in my ongoing work there. It seems the world will be watching (i.e. publications will be interested) so I am quite hopeful to sell a couple of pictures. My agents (Invision and Grazia Neri) are also very enthused about the story and have told me that European editors are responding very favorably to my portfolios so who knows. Work soon, I hope.
Advertisement near Knez Mihailova, Belgrade. 2.12.09

Advertisement near Knez Mihailova, Belgrade. 2.12.09


Longer term I will be visiting Moldova and the Ukraine for the start of a series of projects on Russia’s influence in flux, centered around the energy economy. After, I hope to find a way to fund some trips across Russia where I have dozens of story ideas, including my dream project in Eastern Siberia, which I’ve mentioned obliquely before. Until I secure funding I still won’t describe what it is :) But this is the month when I will hear from 4 or 5 grants and if luck will have it I’ll be there working by Fall.
Belgrade. 2.12.09

Belgrade. 2.12.09


More soon I hope, this time with new real pictures. Haven’t shot anything at all since I’ve been here except these pictures of the snowstorm at dusk today, too much work getting situated and recovering from the crazy push through New York. There have been some requests to describe that process of getting and preparing for meetings with NYC editors and hopefully I’ll get something together on that too. Cheers to all, friends and colleagues. For now from snowy Belgrade, the white city, M.
Belgrade. 2.12.09

Belgrade. 2.12.09


Terazije, Beograd. 2.12.09

Terazije, Beograd. 2.12.09

What Photojournalists Eat

Scott mentioned that this link may have already made the rounds, but I just saw it and would love to share it with you in case you missed it. The New Yorker has posted an audio slideshow of “Tea And Wallaby: Photojournalists talk about memorable on-the-job meals”.
A light and fun set of pictures and interviews with photographers about some of their strange (and/or enjoyable) meals while out photographing. From Jacob Aue Sobel’s seal in Greenland (which he ate for months) to Rena Effendi’s whole-sheep stew in Kyrgyzstan, there are many dishes that would require me to expand my personal gastronomic tastes and tolerances. Part of the cost of getting to see the world, I guess.

I hope Scott weighs in with a memorable meal of his own, as I share one of mine. The picture below, which actually is part of my latest Kosovo story, was actually taken in a living-the-moment-myself situation. A friend, who was traveling with me in Kosovo at the time, and I were visiting a Serbian enclave near the capitol Prishtina, called Gračanica. As luck would have it, when I went in to the local Serbian Orthodox monastery I found a lavish wedding ceremony, and made a number of nice pictures (one of these is also in the story). After this, we went wandering the small town for some lunch before heading back to Prishtina. We found a small restaurant (the Serbian kind that doesn’t have a menu) and ordered some Pleskavica and Jelen Pivo, soon noticing that the only other guests of the eatery were a band of young Serb men who were toasting themselves with copious amounts of beer. Before too long, more beers arrived at our table courtesy of these nice guys, followed by a pair of them to offer a ‘cheers!’ and linking of the arms for a swig. Next thing we knew, we were at their table swapping stories and histories in an awful mix of French, Russian, Serbian and English, all while downing rapidly-refilled cups of Balkan beer. My friend and I were quickly becoming drunk (at about 2pm) and sought to extricate ourselves… the party itself was in honor of one friends’ enlistment in the Serbian army (which has all sorts of implications when it is a young Kosovar Serb signing the papers).

Gracanica, Kosovo. June 2008.

Gracanica, Kosovo. June 2008.


As to be expected, though, these guys were having way too much fun with us and were having the waiter replace our empty .5L bottles as soon as we had finished a glass, making it impossible to say ‘oh well, my beer is done, we’ve got to go’. The most contentious moment, actually, came a moment or two after this picture, as the army-enlistee, who spoke the best English, told me to ‘stop fucking taking pictures, man’. Oops, at least I got the picture.
As we, and especially our new Serb friends, got more drunk over the next 20minutes (I think??) my friend and I decided we had to get out as soon as possible … and not via the kind offer to drive us back to Prishtina via the guy in the lower right of the picture. Taking a word of advice that I read, I think in the book Magnum: Fifty Years at the Front Line of History by Russell Miller (where a photographer in China got out of police custody by telling them that they would be responsible for the cost of the ticket if he missed his flight), I told my hosts that we had a nonrefundable ticket for the bus and absolutely had to leave to catch the bus. This confused them long enough for us to make our escape through a pleasant, if not slightly uncomfortable, hail of ‘Hvala! Zhivili!’ (Thanks! Cheers!) and Ciaos.
Definitely my most memorable meal, and drink, in the Balkans.

New online journalism in Balkans

Thanks to Jasmin Brutus, Bosnian photographer extraordinaire and friend of DVA, who sent me this info about some happenings in the Croatian media scene after reading my Monday news roundup.

In a situation similar to what M. Scott wrote about a few days ago in “A new online journalism?”, where American journalists are starting successful ‘news’ blogs and websites, the prominent and popular Serbian journalist Petar Lukovic started the website www.e-novine.com (“E-Newspapers”, and only in BCS, I think).

Lukovic had been a columnist at the popular Feral Tribune from Split, Croatia (some excellent Wikipedia background), which folded in June 2008, due to “financial troubles”. According to Brutus, he has also attracted a number of other outstanding journalists and columnists to join his new website (meaning, I think, that they’re leaving other dead-tree newspapers and magazines). Very interesting to see that these issues that we discuss and worry about so much in the American media sphere are happening — perhaps more decisively and quickly — elsewhere in the world. I’ll be interested to follow this when I get over there (especially since I’ll hopefully be closer to knowing the language!)

(Corrected 11/27. This post originally identified Lukovic as a Croatian journalist, he is actually Serbian)

Interview: Djordje Jovanovic and XAOC

I’m very pleased to introduce you all to my friend, and source of inspiration, Djordje Jovanovic of Belgrade. I met him and his ‘crew’ in 2007 while studying abroad in the Balkans and from the very first beer we had I knew he was a special one. And not only because we had the very same taste in photographers and ideas on what photography should and can be, but because of his passion and ideas for how to push things forward in the otherwise stifling society of post-conflict, post-communist ex-Yugoslavia. Though he has recently put photography aside (makes me sad.. look at this work!) to pursue innovative and ground-breaking projects with his company XAOC Creative (the Serbian word, in Cyrillic, for Chaos) he still edits, designs and publishes the amazing XAOC Magazine, which has introduced me to countless interesting photographers from around the world. He was even so kind as to feature M. Scott in Issue 3 and Me in Issue 2. If you click on no other links for this post, check out these magazines.

Zubin Potok, Kosovo - Red Star Belgrade soccer fans wave Serbian flags during national soccer league match against local team Mokra Gora, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2006, in Zubin Potok, northern Kosovo. Serbia's parliament formally adopted a new constitution reasserting Serbia's claim over Kosovo and ruling out Belgrade's consent for possible independence of the predominantly ethnic Albanian province. ( © Djordje Jovanovic )

Zubin Potok, Kosovo - Red Star Belgrade soccer fans wave Serbian flags during national soccer league match against local team Mokra Gora, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2006, in Zubin Potok, northern Kosovo. Serbia's parliament formally adopted a new constitution reasserting Serbia's claim over Kosovo and ruling out Belgrade's consent for possible independence of the predominantly ethnic Albanian province. ( © Djordje Jovanovic )

Tell me a little about your city and your country
Belgrade is the capital of a small European country – Serbia. Serbia, in a recent history, was part of a larger country – a communist Yugoslavia. Now the country is in a process of transition and European integration. There are ongoing reforms in almost all state and social sectors . Belgrade is a vibrant city that has a tendency towards a group violence every few months. Interesting and loved city by many westerners and locals… known for cheep drinks, friendly people and beautiful girls :) ) bla bla
 
What did you go to school for?
I went to a High school for design – graphic design department, and just got my degree in computer arts and design at the academy of arts BK in Belgrade.

Greece 2001. ( © Djordje Jovanovic )

Greece 2001. ( © Djordje Jovanovic )


How did you decide to pursue this?
I really don’t remember but I guess that I like to draw when I was a kid and being a son of a photographer kind of pushed me into it… and I liked it.
 
What are you doing now?
Now I’m working on a creative and administrative processes in a company called Xaoc Creative that I started a year ago with two friends. Essentially it’s a creative center dealing with all kinds of visual communication. We’re mostly focused on graphic design for web and print, advanced web development and of course image production.
Belgrade, Serbia at night. (c) Djordje Jovanovic

Belgrade, Serbia at night. (c) Djordje Jovanovic


What changed between school, your first jobs as a photographer and where you are now?
A lot! Everything. My first full time job was in Serbian national news agency Tanjug. I was a kid just finished high school that suddenly was attending all the government and parliament sessions and traveling around the country and region with all the heads of state. It had a big impact on my process of thinking. Later on I started to work for Kurir daily newspaper simultaneously while working for Tanjug and studying. That brought even more fun to my life. Kurir is a tabloid, something like The sun in UK, so I was now in a even wider company of people, including entertainment and sport stars, criminals and a lot of very diverse ordinary folks with big problems. It was very interesting period, parliament session in the morning, gypsy settlement in poverty on the afternoon and VIP fashion show/party in the evening… that’s how my days looked like. :) . Later on I switched to Gazeta news paper and later to Hello! Magazine. During this four year period I was mainly interested in documentary photography. But I realized that photography is not enough for me anymore in terms of expression and impact. So I decided to start a company and put some more media in, some more people and more serious projects.
 
(c) Djordje Jovanovic

(c) Djordje Jovanovic


What did you enjoy about working as a photojournalist?
Process of creation was most enjoyable compared to the same process in other media. It was fast, simple and powerful.
Then of course the interaction with people and places that I was able to have working as a photojournalist.
“Photographing because I want to change the world and help people in need” is the line that we can hear from many big names in this business but I think it’s a big lie. I seriously doubt that anyone is photographing with that goal in mind.

Why did you leave photography?
Photography just don’t have big impact on society anymore. At least I think so. I wanted something with much bigger impact and that’s why we’re working with more media now. Also I wanted more control and more freedom and I felt that I could contribute more than I could as a photojournalist.
 

Belgrade, Serbia - Portrait of a person with retarded mental development, taken in daily center where these kids spend their time working in a creative or educational workshop. ( © xaocphoto/Djordje Jovanovic )

Belgrade, Serbia - Portrait of a person with retarded mental development, taken in daily center where these kids spend their time working in a creative or educational workshop. ( © xaocphoto/Djordje Jovanovic )


Tell me about Xaoc and your team.
Core team consist of tree man. Marko Kecman (Ed- Another terrific photographer and friend of mine.. check xaocphoto.com), Jovan Damjanovic and myself. We also have two developers, and two men that are dealing with photo production and a lot of contributors.

What kind of work are you doing?
A lot of web and print projects. In image production we are doing everything that a newspaper or a magazine would like us to do in a BtoB model. Fashion editorials, Products, reportages, interviews, campaigns… whatever you can think of… (Ed- Have a look at this project XAOC has done called Victims! of Serbian Politics. It combines nifty design, terrific photography and a social motive in an interesting and engaging way.)

Tell me about Xaoc Magazine. Who do you feature?
Xaoc magazine is a noncommercial free time project that has a potential for growth. We weren’t satisfied with the photo scene in Serbia so we felt the need to do something about it. Web magazine was the easiest way to do it… we’ve done only three issues for now, but had a nice feedback from people all over the world. Selection is based upon the aesthetics that we find interesting and that cant be found in a media scene in Belgrade… not in a mainstream at least. It’s internationally orientated but we always put at least one Serbian photographer in it.

Issues 1-3 of XAOC Magazine. (c) Xaoc Creative

Issues 1-3 of XAOC Magazine. (c) Xaoc Creative


What is the media scene in Serbia?
Rich and expanding. Quality I want comment on.
 
What kind of relationship do you have with the rest of the region (Balkans) and Europe?
Rich and expanding. Yes we do have a big problem here with visas, but we’re managing to overcome it. Other than that it’s fine. Balkans and Europe are rich in war history but I don’t find it to be an issue.
 
A gypsy family sit in front of thair home located in isolated ghetto-like settlement on outskirts of Belgrade, Serbia, Monday, Oct. 15, 2006. Smaili family fled kosovo in 1999 and are now living in a ghetto among 36 other families without electricity or water. The status of Serbian southern province still remains unresolved while Serbia is heading for a public referendum on a new Serbian constitution. ( © Djordje Jovanovic)

A gypsy family sit in front of thair home located in isolated ghetto-like settlement on outskirts of Belgrade, Serbia, Monday, Oct. 15, 2006. Smaili family fled Kosovo in 1999 and are now living in a ghetto among 36 other families without electricity or water. The status of Serbian southern province still remains unresolved while Serbia is heading for a public referendum on a new Serbian constitution. ( © Djordje Jovanovic)


What are your goals for Xaoc? For yourself?
To expand our business internationally is the first next step. On a long run we want to contribute to an ongoing evolution for a better society. We’re living in a very interesting time now and not just in a last few decades or centuries but form the beginning of a mankind. We believe that humans are soon to evolve into much more powerful and peaceful beings and with great anticipation are looking into the future.
 
Any predictions for the Serbian, Balkan and worldwide media scenes?
For a serious answer a serious analysis is necessary but I’m not worried. I think that things are going In a positive direction and that we’re going to enjoy much richer and better media in the future.

Any links we need to see?
X Geek – Stuff you don’t know and Serbian photographer in New York Boogie. (ed- he is also the cover story in XAOC Magazine #2)

Matt Lutton and Djordje Jovanovic at the XAOC offices in Belgrade celebrating their birthdays in June 2008.

Matt Lutton and Djordje Jovanovic at the XAOC offices in Belgrade celebrating their birthdays in June 2008.


On a personal note, I cannot wait to be back in Belgrade; Djordje and the other guys from Xaoc know how to have a good time and still get up the next morning and work your butt off. And, I’ve just got to say, that opening picture is simply one of my favorite pictures from anyone anywhere.