© 2019 Anna Van Lenten

The Visible Mountain / Camilla de Maffei

April 2016

© Camilla de Maffei

Exhibit opening, screening, & talk
Tuesday April 12, 2016, 7:30 PM
Moderated by Anna Van Lenten, Half King Photo Series Curator

In 2011, Camilla de Maffei set herself the challenge of photographing the post Balkan war psyche. Her goal was to depict how the trauma of the 90s conflicts manifested, both physically and psychically. Such a daunting task needs an entry point. Camilla focused on Trebevic, Sarajevo's sacred, scarred mountain. Working with an anthropologist, she spent over a year in a process of asssembling: she walked up and down Trebevic, shot pictures, collected archival photos, and took down personal testimonies.

 

The resulting images, made fifteen years after the wars ceased, contain intimacies and abandonments. In many, feral nature lurks, but it’s frozen or stalled out, its energies released instead in hope or resignation. The ambiguity of light, of faces and backs turned, feels unresolved. Yet, Camilla’s eye for the sensuous splay of ruins suggests that the past is settling in, being absorbed by time and the famous Balkan dark humor, even if the future is yet unclear.

 

In fact, soil and forest, ruins and memory, hope and denial, speak to one another. Once upon a time, Trebevic was a destination, hallowed for its beauty and wildness, calling leisure seekers, linked to Sarajevo's city center by cable car, respected for its astronomy observatories and for being a site of the 1984 winter Olympics.

 

The 90s changed all that, turning it first into a harsh frontline for battle, then when the IEBL was established, into a border between two entities. There followed Trebevic’s abandonment. Part of this was due to heavy mining, although mines have been removed; part because war destroyed its sport and leisure facilities. Most of all, Camilla found that the mountain embodies a specific social geography pointing to loss and suffering, and to the strong desires of Sarajevo's citizens to move beyond the past—good and bad. 

 

~ Anna Van Lenten