Photo above, my own. Dubrovnik from the city walls, September 2016. Rooves much repaired. The many brighter orange patches are where the shells fell.
Below are a few pictures from the exhibitions at War Photo Limited, Dubrovnik, described in words, with some quotes from the accompanying material. I did not photograph the photographs.
The Road to the Caliphate, Eddy van Wessel.
A portrait, eyes only shown. “We were five of us. My older brother Abdullah was the leader of our group. We started collecting weapons and attacking US convoys. For example, we would throw hand grenades at convoys. It was difficult. I was still studying and skipped many classes… [Later after the death of his brother he switched sides, as we would understand it, and fought al-Qaeda.] The fighting is over now. I try to get an ordinary job. It’s not easy, yesterday my cousins went to Kirkuk, but nobody wants to hire us.”
A Syrian Kurdish YPG female fighter in Sinja, November 2015. She has perfect drawn-on eyebrows and a bit of a swagger. She is maybe mid 30s. A dark shadow snaking down her neck to one breast, which I initially take to be a plait, may also be a bullet belt.
A couple ride on a motorbike through the destroyed city of Kobane, Syria. It is January 2016. He gives a thumbs up. She is side saddle on the pillion, leggings, boots, headscarf. Kind of a hot smile when she sees the camera. They look like they’re out for a Sunday ride.
Mostar, 1993. A sniper’s room. It’s a warehouse and it looks like a James Bond set. High ceilings, two great shuttered windows, sniper holes eked out of different sizes at different levels (some of them are probably shrapnel damage too). A black death swivel chair and a table – so far, so James Bond. But, incongruously, a wicker patio chair.
Mihatovici, near Tuzla. A special refugee camp for Srebrenica survivors. The boys play football.
1995, near Kljuc. A Bosniac soldier hangs helplessly onto a tree in his home village, three years after he hid in the forest and watched his family along with the rest of the village massacred by Bosnian Serbs. He is broken, the tree is the only thing holding him up.
Sarajevo, 1994. Oh my god, the former 1984 Olympic stadium was converted into a cemetery. Did I know this? I was in Sarajevo nine years ago, but had forgotten.
Under siege. Dubrovnik, 1991.
Late October 1991. The Yugoslav National Army and Montenegrin forces have captured virtually all the territory between the Peljesac and Prevlaka peninsula on the Adriatic coast – except Dubrovnik. A man looks out from the medieval ramparts with binoculars. I think he is by the Fort St John, where the Maritime Museum is housed now.
In one room, a news clip plays. The US is not prepared to put troops in and “impose” a solution. Why the Middle East and not here? How did we let this happen?
The Stradun deserted. The Hilton hotel burns. St Blaise, the city’s patron saint, looks on from a foregrounded church, raising a benediction towards the fire.
56% of the 824 buildings within the old city walls were damaged. By the Ploce Gate you can see an information board showing all the hits.
A scholarly looking proto-hipster type in a green jumper carries a man on the stretcher. His face. He never expected to be here.