ISSUE #4 FOREST, AUTUMN 2014
PHOTO ESSAY
Natural Succession in the Aftermath
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Catherine Cattaruzza and Ziyah Gafi´c  each returned to the stage of horrifying events of the past. Reflecting in and through their images, they reveal a previous reality. These places bear a weighty past.

Their images are neutral, fragmented, urging you to imagine what cannot be seen. The tendency to intellectualize what we see
is replaced with impartiality and a rejection of photojournalistic voyeurism. Cattaruzza and
Gafi´c  do not peddle the ephemeral; they direct the gaze and return to the afterwards. Their images don’t represent absence; they represent losing the traces of what happened. They ward off what these places, bound to memory, hide.

Their work is about the experience of a place, so as not to introduce a narrative element into the suggestive power of the images. Humans are scarcely present in their work – not to deny the human element in what happened, but to achieve a sense of timelessness. History is written in photographs when the event is not captured in the moment. Proof of what happened lies in the absence of any trace of life, in keeping the spectator’s sympathy at bay. Cattaruzza and Gafi´c  come to resemble photographic investigators.

Their images are rooted in the present, suggesting we look back without inventing tragedies. They forge a relationship with what happened by observing its implications for the present.

In Cattaruzza and Gafi´c ’s forests, we stand before ordinary places and the passage of time. These forests refuse to be just an echo of memory. They are tragic places garbed in everyday attire. Violence is but a condensed aspect of the image, in contrast to its silence and seclusion, stirring the act of memory. In these photographs, the event emerges anew, giving rise to doubts redoubled.

These images become clearer in our violence-burdened memories. Pointing to a place brings tragedy back to the heart of the image, inciting a radical shift in the very meaning of representation. It adds a symbolic dimension, between the silence of representation and the deafness of memory bearing it. These tranquil images reveal the heavy silence of present day disasters; albeit unseen, they make us feel what we cannot perceive with the senses.

Returning to such places raises a fundamental question: the issue of memory, as it relates to both the place of an image, and the image of a place. Here, photographs mediate between past and present, between individual recollection and collective memory. The past is no longer present: neither as place nor as image, neither physically nor symbolically. All that remains are perceptions of experience and quotidian life.

 

In a memory, every city is a forest.                                                                            

 

Joseph Al-Hage

Translated by Elisabeth Jaquette

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Once a favorite weekend spot for residents of nearby Sarajevo, Trebevic¥ mountain came to stand for terror, sniper fire, failed attempts to liberate the city, and daily cannon fire from its slopes during the Bosnian War (1992–1994). The Olympic bobsleigh track became a frontline, its concrete perfect shelter for the Serbian Army.
Zlati?te, once a favorite picnic place for Sarajevans before the war, dominates the city, overlooking many neighborhoods, and became a strategic spot during the war for independence. The two children stand in front of old trenches. Initially held by the Bosnian Army, its thick pine forest was heavily bombed and shelled, due to its position and access to the main supply route (far left corner of photograph), so much so that only a few pines survived.
Damaged homes on the slopes of Trebevic¥ mountain.
Damaged homes on the slopes of Trebevic¥ mountain.
Trebevic road, the main supply route for the Serbian Army during the war, traverses the mountain, which is regaining its role as the lungs of the city and a weekend spot for picnickers like the two men above.
The mountain overlooks Sarajevo, a city of 370,000 residents and today's capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Green Line in the Central District.
National Evangelical Church tower, Zouqaq Al Blatt.
Martyrs' Square area.
The Grand Sérail, Zouqaq Al Blatt.
General Fouad Chehab Avenue.
Damascus Road.
  
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