April 16th, 2013
April 6th, 2012
All Images © 2013 Ziyah Gafić
Bosnian photojournalist, Ziyah Gafić’s project, “Quest for Identity,” contains thousands of photographs of personal belongings and artifacts unearthed from mass graves in the aftermath of the Bosnian War. These items are the remains of their identity, regardless of their simplicity. Gafić’s aim is to create a searchable online database which will not only aid in the ongoing trials of war crimes, but also as a tool for visual identification of the missing 30,000 Bosnians. The accompanying book, “Quest for Identity” (de.Mo Design Limited), will be available in August 2013. PDN began following this project in 2011. Click here for more.
|© Ziyah Gafic
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the start of the conflict in Bosnia that eventually became the worst genocide Europe since World War II. While journalists who covered the conflict and historians are now reexamining the bloody conflict and its lessons, the events of 20 years ago are not yet relegated to history. “How could they be, when there hasn’t been catharsis or absolution?” says Ziyah Gafic, a Bosnian photographer.
Gafic, who was 12 years old when Serbs attacked Bosnia in a grab for power in the former Soviet satellite, has been working with the International Commission on Missing Persons to photograph the eyeglasses, snapshots, keys and other personal belongings of victims of ethnic cleansing. The items have been collected from mass graves and are being used as tools to identify some of the 30,000 missing Bosnians. Gafic’s goal is not only to help reunite these objects with the victims’ families, but to document and remember the genocide.
“We so desperately hoped lessons learned in Bosnia will help prevent or solve faster other conflicts, but how foolish was that?” Gafic says. “Just looking at Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Libya, makes ‘never again’ quite a cynical statement.”
Related Article: Ziyah Gafic: A Forensic Documentary of Genocide