Conflict

Farewell to Bosnia

Gilles Peress bears testimony to the brutality and devastation of the 1990s Balkan conflict

Gilles Peress

Gilles Peress | Farewell to Bosnia Departure of Jews in Skanderia. Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. 1993. © Gilles Peress | Magnum Photos
Gilles Peress | Farewell to Bosnia Destroyed buildings from fighting. Ahmici, Bosnia and Herzegovina. 1993. © Gilles Peress | Magnum Photos
Gilles Peress | Farewell to Bosnia Civilians fleeing. Bosnia and Herzegovina. 1993. © Gilles Peress | Magnum Photos
Gilles Peress | Farewell to Bosnia View of shelled out building. Bosnia and Herzegovina. 1993. © Gilles Peress | Magnum Photos
Gilles Peress | Farewell to Bosnia Child with a gun. Bosnia and Herzegovina. 1993. © Gilles Peress | Magnum Photos
Gilles Peress | Farewell to Bosnia Child walks along abandoned road. Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. 1993. © Gilles Peress | Magnum Photos
Gilles Peress | Farewell to Bosnia Refugees from Banja Luca. Travnic, Bosnia and Herzegovina. 1993. © Gilles Peress | Magnum Photos
Gilles Peress | Farewell to Bosnia View of city through damaged window. Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. 1993. © Gilles Peress | Magnum Photos
Gilles Peress | Farewell to Bosnia A cemetery in a former football field near Kosovo Hospital. Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. 1993. © Gilles Peress | Magnum Photos
Gilles Peress | Farewell to Bosnia Evacuation of the wounded from Tuzia Airport. Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. 1993. © Gilles Peress | Magnum Photos
Gilles Peress | Farewell to Bosnia Group in a field. Near Brit-Bat, Bosnia and Herzegovina. 1993. © Gilles Peress | Magnum Photos
Gilles Peress | Farewell to Bosnia Bunker in Marsala Tita. Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. 1993. © Gilles Peress | Magnum Photos
Gilles Peress | Farewell to Bosnia People walk along Kranjcevica. Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. 1993. © Gilles Peress | Magnum Photos
Gilles Peress | Farewell to Bosnia People on the street during sniper fire on Marsala Tita. Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. 1993. © Gilles Peress | Magnum Photos
Gilles Peress | Farewell to Bosnia A massacre site. Ahmici, Bosnia and Herzegovina. 1993. © Gilles Peress | Magnum Photos
Gilles Peress | Farewell to Bosnia War damaged streets of the capital. Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. 1993. © Gilles Peress | Magnum Photos

Farewell to Bosnia covers a period of almost six months during 1993, focusing primarily on the areas of Tuzla, central Bosnia, Mostar and Sarajevo. The work was initiated by Francois Hers, who was familiar with Peress’s ongoing project about the reemerging patterns of hate and discrimination in Europe – Hate Thy Brother – and who, because of his contacts in Bosnia, felt the urgency to have a visual documentation of what was happening in the Balkans. Peress set out to provide an illustrated continuum of experience and existence, and only having a small period of time could not explain everything that was occurring in Bosnia; not the historical intricacies of the breakup, nor the weight of blood that soaked the region.

"You are damned if you remember - condemned to re-live, re-enact the images of your fathers; you are damned if you don't - condemned to repeat their hypocrisy."

- Gilles Peress

In a sense then, Farewell to Bosnia is a raw take, a ‘non-edit’, and the straightforward presentation of the pictures – entire villages in ruins, refugees fleeing, mass graves uncovered – strike the viewer with a force that is both quietly unnerving and forcibly brutal. No one can leave this book without being moved by what was witnessed, least of all Peress himself. As he writes, “Here starts the curse of history, an illness that may not be so personal anymore. It may be a very European disease, after all, with a double-edged nature: you are damned if you remember – condemned to re-live, re-enact the images of your fathers; you are damned if you don’t – condemned to repeat their hypocrisy.”

 

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