From 1992 to 1995, in the heart of Europe, the nationalist project of ‘Greater Serbia’ led Bosnia-Herzegovina into a fratricidal war that culminated in the Srebrenica genocide.The Dayton Agreement will freeze the country in a precarious peace based on an ethnic partition of the country.
Since then, tensions between ethnic and religious communities have remained vivid, fuelled by nationalist rhetorics that exploits memory to the detriment of justice and reconciliation, thus posing a real risk to peace.
In photography, Fabrice Dekoninck takes us on a journey of immersion in the memory of the war. For more than two years, he has explored, in its most intimate aspects, the memory of those who survived the siege of Sarajevo, the ethnic cleansing of the Prijedor region and the genocide in Srebrenica. Like an anthropologist of memory, he has documented, on the very places where the events took place, the memory of the witnesses and the serious traumas that are passed on between generations.
This work paints a portrait of a Bosnian society that remains mired in its own past. Fortunately, hope remains. The photographer also met members of civil society, artists or activists, who have decided not to carry the burden of a collective memory imposed on them and who still believe in the possibility of a multi-ethnic ideal in a country at peace.
“I remember my first trip to Srebrenica in February 2020. Even before arriving in the city, I am stunned by the landscape that unfolds before my eyes. Everywhere, the stigma of violence and hatred. Yet I had prepared myself for a long time. I had read the accounts of the witnesses and immersed myself in the archives of the International Criminal Court. But nothing could prepare me for the raw reality of the genocide. I feel everything, the hatred of the murderers and the suffering of the victims. Everything here is latent, palpable, horribly present.”
Most of the work has been done with analogic cameras (35 mm and medium format), around 3 geographical chapters: Srebrenica, Kozarac/Prijedor and Sarajevo
Preface by Fabrice Dekoninck and Philippe Simon (former French war correspondent who shared the daily life of a Bosnian family in Sarajevo throughout the siege).
Afterwords by Nicolas Moll (historian) and Bruno Tertrais (deputy director of the Foundation for Strategic Research and geopolitical adviser at the Institut Montaigne).