Bosnians: an exhibition of photographs by Paul Lowe

Tuesday, 25 October, 2005:
25 October to 18 November 2005

Honduras Street Gallery,
1 Honduras Street
Clerkenwell
London EC1 0TH

Tel 020 7253 1424
or contact p.lowe@lcc.arts.ac.uk


BOSNIANS: Bosnia, war and its aftermath, 1992-2005

Sarajevo, Srebrenica, Gorazde, Mostar. For four years these names were as familiar from daily news reports as New York or London. Bosnia was the epicentre of the world's media spotlight, and footage from the conflict was beamed into our homes. But the war ended ten years ago, and now these once familiar names have joined those of Mogadishu, Grozny, Freetown, Kabul and Port au Prince in the litany of forgotten
media hotspots now left in the shadows as the press corps moves on to the next disaster.

Yet life still goes on in these places, and their citizens struggle to rebuild their lives and make sense of the catastrophe that befell them. The Bosnian diaspora, scattered over Europe and the rest of the world, also struggle to make sense of their identity as refugees in a foreign land. A new generation is growing up for whom the war took place while
they were children, and their understanding of it is gleaned from stories their parents tell them.

For all of these constituents then, memory is of vital understanding in reclaiming and understanding their past in order to comprehend their present. Photography, with its indexical link to the past, presents and ideal opportunity to engage with both Bosnians at home and abroad, and with a wider European and global community to whom the themes of the
conflict in the former Yugoslavia resonate with the echoes of past and present wars.

Paul Lowe's photographs in this British Council sponsored exhibition chronicle this process of conflict and then reconstruction, in a unique document spanning more than a decade. This process has a wider significance too, as the war in Bosnia serves as a kind of template for modern conflict, with its horrors of ethnic cleansing and mass civilian
deaths, and also with its post war landscape of refugee returns and the search for the missing from the war.

In these pictures a line of makeshift headstones mark the graves of unidentified victims of the siege of Sarajevo, a man stands at the entrance to a narrow 'sniper's corridor', struck by a shaft of light, deliberating whether or not to dash across; a couple embrace lovingly on a terrace overlooking Sarajevo; in a tavern a young man, intoxicated
by wine, breaks into song while another looks on ironically; turbaned Muslims pray facing Mecca in a Bosnian meadow; a human skull is matched to a photograph of its former face.

The presence of death is felt in Paul Lowe's photographs: war and its terrors are evoked in images notable for their stillness, reminding us that exploding buildings and screaming faces are only the most obvious ways of showing devastation. But here is life too, for the Bosnians have survived, mourned and moved forward. Lovers, refugees reclaiming the old homes, old men, rambunctious children and fashionable boulevardiers populate this work, as do images of snowy fields, rebuilt bridges, and parties.

The exhibition is accompanied by a book entitled 'Bosnians', published by Saqi books with the aid of the Bosnian Institute. The exhibition is sponsored by The British Council in Sarajevo and the London College of Communication.

Paul Lowe is an award-winning freelance photographer and teacher living and working between Sarajevo and London. Represented by Panos Pictures and Grazia Neri, his work has appeared in many international publications including Time, Newsweek, Life, Der Speigel, The Sunday Times Magazine, The Observer and The Independent. He has covered breaking news the world over, including the fall of the Berlin Wall,
Nelson Mandela's release, the Rwandan genocide and the destruction of Grozny. He is currently developing an online educational programme for developing-world photographers in conjunction with the World Press Photo Foundation in Amsterdam, and is Course Director of the new Masters programme in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at the London College of Communication.



 
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