THE VISIBLE MOUNTAIN: THE POWER OF MEMORY.
Mount Trebević –formerly considered a powerful symbol of Sarajevo– was the privileged destination for Sarajevans’ day trips and Olympic venue since 1984. As the war broke out in 1992, it was occupied by Serb-Bosnian troops becoming one of the main enclaves the city was besieged from.
During nearly 3 years of conflict, all the facilities were destroyed and today the landscape still wears the unequivocal scars of the actions that took place there. In 1995 the Dayton’s Peace Agreements froze the frontline, therefore the mountain was divided by the Inter Entity Boundary Line which separates the Croat-Muslim Federation from Republika Srpska.
After the war, Trebević fell into oblivion because of the presence of mine fields and the destruction of its main sport and leisure facilities’, but above all, due to the negative symbolism of a place crossed first by the frontline, and later by an invisible but still powerful border: a barrier separating “us” and “them” that many people are still reluctant to cross. That line is capable of wielding a repulsive power over the majority of locals, on which the post-Dayton arrangements imposed a logic of ethnic separation that traditionally didn’t belong here.
First war, and then treaties with their new political geographies marked Trebević, which nowadays remains frozen in time: the ruins of the old facilities wasted by the war still loom over its landscape, making it an ambiguous, ghostly territory. It is a powerful living place, and in that sense, photographing the mountain is a challenge because it goes beyond the simple picturing of its landscape – the surface – the obvious.
There is an invisible weight within: it is the power of memories still difficult to digest, of a constant mourning and a persistent feeling of abandon, of the stillness of the state of things, of the waiting and the hoping. Surely, the present-day Trebević cannot be pictured without considering all that happened, as past and present seem to intertwine without any distinction.
Those considerations had a profound effect upon my working methods and the aesthetics of the images. Far from the narrative rules of classic documentaries, I’ve set on a more subjective approach, prioritizing the emotive layers in an attempt to picture that same invisible dimension. Ambiguous movements, hidden or covered faces, close-ups of seemingly insignificant objects – but heavy with symbolic value within their own context. The empty spaces and the ruins set the narrative pace, the pauses between the various characters and the distances.