These stark obelisks dominate the skyline of Belgrade’s residential districts. Concrete-clad and gargantuan, they serve society not only as ascendant hives, but as monuments to the human condition.
Irrespective of its size or locale, any space, provided it has been inhabited or maintained by humans, will carry a trace of their values and history. Architecture is an absolute medium, a physical and structural projection of the designer, and as such it will carry the sentiments of the cultures they originate from. Belgrade is no exception to this rule, and its history seemed to be quite literally constructed around us, to the point where it was inescapable. Perhaps the departure from our native spaces played a part in our stark observations, I would argue that our pre-departure research and fixation on Serbia may had also had some effect on our perception, but ultimately traces of history and ideology manifest themselves everywhere: Sometimes it is the more abstract forms of representation, a building or a street for example, that bear the most explicit marks.
Born and raised in Belgrade and having spent his youth within 90’s Serbia ‘under Milosevic’s leadership, Vladimir Milivojevich developed a career as a street-photographer influenced by his local surroundings and the changes they went through. Now based in the states as a commercial photographer, Boogie often returns to his routes in Belgrade as a source for inspiration.
In my search for a more aesthetic representation of Serbia, I searched through Flickr and other photo sharing sites to see the country through the eyes of its homegrown photographers and visual artists, Boogie is one of several artists that has gained recognition as an influential member of the photographic community.
As an enthusiast for photography myself I’ve grown to appreciate his and similar works on a number of levels. Initially I was drawn to them for their technical expertise and distinct image, but as I learn more about Serbia I start to see these photos as an honest and indigenous portrayal of what they see. As Bazin and Vertov emphasized in their works, the camera and the image reflect the user’s perspective and mindset, creating not only a visual artform but a snapshot in time.
Boogie updates the blog on his official website frequently, largely consisting of his inspirations, and shots from his returning visits to Belgrade. Having come across his portfolio I intend to find additional photographers that showcase what might be considered ‘centre’ life in contemporary Serbia.
One of the biggest challenges we face when investigating any culture as outsiders is the identification of the centre. It’s all too easy to be drawn to the extraordinary, the liminal, characters and stories that sit on the periphery of normality within a society. It is crucial to grasp some sense of what the norm actually is, in order to avoid the pitfalls of fixating on that which is not representative of the majority’s ideals. As outsiders, locating the centre could prove be a close to impossible endeavor, having little to no true emotional and social connections to the subjects we observe. In addition, as researchers concerning ourselves with cultural and social fields we are often naturally inclined to locate the under-represented and the alternative.
Though we may never experience the same connection with a space as its native inhabitants, we can potentially understand it to a greater extent through the consumption of its cultural exports, social phenomenon and an adequate understanding of its history.
This category will link back to some of our findings from our preliminary research on Serbia’s culture, including artists, academics, events and exports: Most of which can be located within of contemporary Serbian society, or linked to its respective history.