ZIYAH GAFIĆ, PHOTOGRAPHER

  • Short Stories from Troubled Societies

  • When the Bosnian war for independence started I was 12: too young to take part, to fight as my father and all male members of family did or to take photographs.

    I was, however, old enough to be targeted and to be part of the Balkan news circus - as an object. Unlike many other Bosnians, my family was fairly lucky. My disabled aunt was burned alive in her house and her remains were never recovered; my grandfather committed suicide after he recognized the same pattern of ethnic hate he had fought fiercely as Tito's partisan in World War 2; one of my cousins was gang raped.

    Growing up in besieged Sarajevo and witnessing the war from the point of view of someone to whom the war was actually happening but not being able to take part in it left me deeply frustrated. I had this extraordinary experience to be on both sides of the news events: to be part of the news and to be storyteller myself.

    While completing work in Bosnia I realized that there are a number of transitional countries in the world following similar patterns of guerre fraternites, ethnic violence followed by ethnic cleansing and ultimately – genocide. All that fueled by ancient disputes about property and natural resources. I followed the story on aftermath to other places locked in a struggle similar to that in my homeland: Palestine / Israel, Kurdistan, Iraq, Ossetia, Rwanda, Chechnya, Lebanon and Afghanistan. This is a series of photo essays, on the aftermath of war and violence in the daily life of people living in societies in Europe, Africa and Asia. I aimed to capture the quiet, the loneliness and the determination of people trying to carry on with their lives after the very fabric of their community, their rituals and their social life has been torn apart.

    Aim is to compare and to try to understand the circumstances and the political

    environment that can lead a country to its disintegration and above all to record the consequences for the human condition in these places. For someone who went through war and personal loss empathy is essential. If readers do not emphasize with the subject in my photographs then I have failed.

    The countries I photographed have one more important thing in common: they all have a significant Muslim community. In post 9.11th times when these countries are considered the main sources of international terrorism, I as a European Muslim find it obligatory to record the chain of events unfolding in these places and show their fragility: torn apart by ethnic hate, long and exhausting conflicts, polluted with the legacy of colonial rule and Cold War, while very often being regarded as a cradle of our civilization, mysterious and beautiful.

    I’ve been documenting aftermath since 1999 since then I worked in;  Bosnia: a painful aftermath and identification of the missing persons, Palestine: one of the longest conflicts of 20th century and new separation wall, Iraq: the troubled neighborhood of Sadr City, Kurdistan: at dawn of the coalition invasion, Northern Ossetia: aftermath of Beslan siege, Chechnya: daily life in Grozny, Afghanistan: damaged people, damaged landscape and Lebanon: aftermath of recent Israeli military campaign.

    These photo-essays unpretentiously seek to illuminate the pattern of questionable international involvement and focus on the people left behind, struggling to restore some kind of daily order in their damaged environments.

     

Copyright © 2014 by Ziyah Gafic. All rights reserved.
Design by Creative 24/7