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Negatives Beyond the Green

Negatives Beyond the Green, 2002-2014. Photographic series: 20 photographs, 105 x 125 cm / 105 x 105 cm.

The photo series Negatives Beyond the Green is one of the artist’s longest running projects. It began in 2002 and lasted until 2014. The subjects of this series are all directly related to the armed conflict that arose in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the early 1990’s and which went on for three years causing a terrifying aftermath of 100,000 deaths and hundreds of thousands injured and displaced persons. The series depicts mass graves and execution sites as well as clothes of ethnic cleansing victims in the northwestern part of the country, especially around the artist’s hometown Prijedor. 

Combining visual documentation of the region where the atrocities took place with his personal memories of the war, and by contrasting the beautiful scenery and landscapes with the traces of war terror concealed under its surface, the artist creates an atmosphere of unsettled duality. The series subtly pulls the viewer back in time to a world of brutality inconceivable to most of us. 

The senior curator Dorthe Rugaard described the series in the following way: “It’s evident that the photographs also convey the message that life goes on – albeit with a powerful memory of the atrocities of the recent past.”  The simultaneous presence of light and darkness burns itself powerfully into the retina of the onlooker in the photograph White House View, that was taken through a window in a small building in a camp. In this house, prisoners were systematically executed during the war. Čirkinagić lets us share the condemned prisoner’s last glimpse of the world – a modest view of a lane, a cluster of birches, flat and outstretched fields and a wedge of blue sky. In itself the motif is quite dull and uneventful – but at this very spot, where we look out the window along with the photographer, extreme monstrosities and brutal acts once took place. 

The simple and sharp contrast between inside and outside, surface and depth, darkness and light that materializes in the photograph due to the sharp backlight, brutally and unbearably draws the tension between captivity and freedom, desperation and hope, death and life up close to us. All very silently.

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