Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, is scarred by poverty, conflict and political unrest. The violent 1990s have left their traces behind, both in the urban landscape and in the minds of the people.
A new generation is again trying to build a life for themselves in this war-battered city, among the dismal concrete flats and the scars of nationalistic regimes. Ignored by the international community, shunned as mass murderers, it would appear that the world cares little about what precisely happens with the Serbs in Belgrade. The Serbs are left to their own devices; precisely as they have always experienced that from an historical perspective.
Despite the sometimes grim circumstances and popular feeling against Western media, three photographers captured their own image of Belgrade, one that flows out of their strong personal connections with this city and its residents. Boogie, Dirk-Jan Visser and Mark Nozeman went in search of ‘their’ Belgrade. Averse to all political circumstances, they focused on the street, on their circle of friends and on the lives of a seasoned population who keep themselves afloat under difficult circumstances and are seeking new perspectives.
Belgrade Belongs to Me shows three different atmospheric documents of the same city, which are distinguished not only by the subjects chosen but also by their distinctive visual language.
Venue: Academie Minerva Praediniussingel
(Former Nature museum)
Boogie is originally Serbian and grew up in Belgrade. During the desperate 1990s he was the only one among his friends to win the lottery for a Green Card that gave him the opportunity to live and work in the USA. Since then he has done undiluted street photography all over the world, but his roots lie in Belgrade: as a book, “Belgrade Belongs to Me” is his poignant photographic declaration of love for the place of his birth.
Dirk-Jan Visser mixed with a small alternative group of young people reminiscent of the “No Future” punk scene of the 1980s. After being beaten up at the umpteenth political demonstration he decided to take precisely this group of friends in Belgrade, whom he so valued, as the subject for his photography.
Mark Nozeman makes a pre-emptive strike against the biased images about Serbia in the media in his ongoing project ‘Dwelling and Belonging’. It is an introspective portrait of Serbian young people who, a decade after the NATO bombardment, focus on their individuality and identity, in this way seeking to leave the past behind them.
Belgrade Belongs to Me is a presentation of the Noorderlicht PhotoLab, in the context of the festival. PhotoLab is a workspace for photograph in the slipstream of the regular programming. The dynamic trial presentations at Photolab offer plenty of room for developing and realising fresh new ideas in the field of photography. These can focus on photography as a medium, as a form of presentation, as a narrative force, or as a form of social critique.