Kosovo 1999-2000: The Flight of Reason • Paolo Pellegrin • Magnum Photos

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Conflict

Kosovo 1999-2000: The Flight of Reason

For two years, Paolo Pellegrin documented the atrocities of the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, producing a powerful photographic record of a devastated land and its displaced people

Paolo Pellegrin

Paolo Pellegrin Crows fly over a cemetery. Pristina, Kosovo. 2000. © Paolo Pellegrin | Magnum Photos

In 1999 the villages, fields and towns of Kosovo erupted into savage violence. It had been a long time coming, like a darkening storm on the horizon, and when it came it arrived with a mixture of venom, revenge and naked ferocity.

 

Paolo Pellegrin Found: A man thought lost is greeted by his family at the Albanian border at Morina. Kosovo/Albania. 1999. © Paolo Pellegrin | Magnum Photos
Paolo Pellegrin KFOR (NATO Kosovo Force) Checkpoint. Southern Mitrovica, Kosovo. 2000. © Paolo Pellegrin | Magnum Photos
Paolo Pellegrin Mourning the death of a young Kosovar. Town of Kukes, Albania. 1999. © Paolo Pellegrin | Magnum Photos
Paolo Pellegrin The daughter of a KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army) commander watches his funeral. Town of Kukes, Albania. 1999. © Paolo Pellegrin | Magnum Photos

By the end of war almost 850,000 people had been displaced, their homes sacked and burned, while countless thousands more had been killed. They are countless because there are still, to this day, undiscovered graves. It is an old human story, but played out with a peculiarly Balkan dislocation of reason.

Paolo Pellegrin Funerals of a man killed by a land-mine after the war. Pristina, Kosovo. 1999. © Paolo Pellegrin | Magnum Photos
Paolo Pellegrin Roma man. Kosovo Polje, Kosovo. 2000. © Paolo Pellegrin | Magnum Photos
Paolo Pellegrin Refugee family living in a car. Near the town of Kukes, Albania. 1999. © Paolo Pellegrin | Magnum Photos
Paolo Pellegrin Crowds of refugees trying to board a bus from Kukes to Tirana, Albania. 1999. © Paolo Pellegrin | Magnum Photos

As always, the people of Kosovo were the sufferers, homeless, lost, hopelessly seeking refuge in the wilderness of war.

Paolo Pellegrin Kosovo Albanian refugees on the move. Kukes, Albania. 1999. © Paolo Pellegrin | Magnum Photos

The reasons for this book are complex. Paolo Pellegrin has made his statement here, the result of two years work. But one reason, albeit pitifully rehearsed, like some irrefutable dirge or mantra, is clear. It is: Lest we forget.

Paolo Pellegrin Destroyed house. Obilic, Kosvo. 2002. © Paolo Pellegrin | Magnum Photos