What are the consequences of denying, forgetting or manipulating the legacy of war in the Balkans? And how can memorials encourage dialogue about the legacy of war? We discuss these two questions with journalists and activists from the Balkans during the pop-up exhibition ‘Killing Culture’.
During the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s, various cultural venues such as theaters, museums and music schools were used as places of detention, torture and execution. Today, however, such venues provide no information about this violent past. It’s as if this past has been forgotten and the victims never existed.
The photography project ‘Killing Culture’ is aimed at combatting this silence. It wants to open up a conversation about what happened in these places and how cultural sites were misused during the war to sharpen the divisions between various ethnic groups. Twenty-four cultural venues in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo were photographed by photographer Hrvoje Polan, for the book ‘Killing Culture’ and the accompanying exhibition. The exhibition has been presented in various places in the Balkans as a way of generating discussion about the war, the misuse of culture and the importance of memorials.
PAX and ForumZFD are organizers of the pop exhibition at Humanity House accompanied with the discussion about the misuse of culture and the Importance of memorials in the Balkans today.
About the speakers
- Nemanja Stjepanović is a journalist from Belgrade. He worked for SENSE News Agency, based at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague. He was a researcher and member of the Executive Team of the Humanitarian Law Center in Belgrade. Nemanja has previously written for the Peščanik Web Portal. Since March 2019, he is working at the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in The Hague within the External Relations Office.
Igor Čoko (1975) holds a degree in Ethnology and Anthropology. In his role of visual anthropologist, he uses his camera to capture and explore the sensibility of the street life, its people and life of stigmatized social groups. His photographs are published in leading magazines and newspapers from former Yugoslavia states and Europe. His photo books are part of Hasselblad foundation library fund in Gothenburg, Sweden. “Karaburma my ghetto” photo essay has been published in “World street photography vol. 5” photo book, Frankfurt – Germany 2018. He is editor in chief at Grain photo magazine that showcase street and documentary photography. He lives and works in Belgrade, Serbia.
- Nataša Govedarica is country director of the German NGO ForumZFD in Serbia, which produced photo-monography Killing Culture. She is originally from Sarajevo. Nataša is an award-winning playwright. Her MA thesis on film as a medium for human rights awareness rising was published under the title “The Picture of Human Rights.”, and she is the author of the study, “A Land of Uncertain Past,” on the politics of memory in Serbia, 1991 – 2011.
- Kevin C. Hughes is Chief of Staff to Prosecutor Serge Brammertz of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals. He was previously Senior International Legal Officer to the Bosnian War Crimes Chamber in Sarajevo, Legal Officer to the SCSL Appeals Chamber and Legal Officer in the ICTY Registry. He received his Juris Doctor degree from Columbia Law School.
- The moderator, Dion van den Berg, Program manager Europe at PAX, opens the meeting and facilitates the discussion.
- Director of programmes, Miriam Struyk, closes the meeting.