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Distant Images

Distant Image, 2023, Paperwork: newspaper cut-outs in 12 frames with double glass, 50 cm x 50 cm 

The work consists of newspaper clippings of pictures, cut out in a format that corresponds to the size of cigarette rolling paper. The pictures are from the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf published January 10, 1995, which is the same issue as the newspapers found in mass graves in the town of Srebrenica, where one of the most brutal atrocities of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina took place. 

The city was under siege from 1992 to 1995, and the Dutch soldiers deployed as UN peacekeepers brought along Dutch newspapers. These newspapers were often used as cigarette rolling paper by the Bosnians who, after several years under siege, no longer had access to cigarettes. In general, they were isolated and did not have access to images from the outside world. This extreme and unnatural condition made Čirkinagić wonder how these Bosnians might have viewed and perceived the pictures in the newspapers which they used as rolling paper. Especially when knowing that they were not able to understand the Dutch newspaper texts, and that the pictures were the only content in the newspaper they could relate to. The artist thus speculates that the newspaper images must have functioned as windows to another, more normal world than the distorted one they found themselves in during the siege. 

With this rather conceptual take on photography, the artist draws our attention to the image itself and our reception of an image stripped of all context. He asks: “What is the significance of such a ‘bare’ image to someone who, like the besieged in Srebrenica, is isolated from civilization? For individuals whose past is erased and future doomed? Did the images offer more than an opening through which the Bosnians under siege could peek into some distant, more normal world?”

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