“All our tears” exhibition opened
“Too many tears have been shed in our lands. No more, please!” – this is the message sent on Wednesday from the opening of the photo exhibition “All our tears.” The exhibition dedicated to the painful stories of the victims of the wars in the former Yugoslavia officially opened the festival “Mirëdita, good day!” in Belgrade.
Organized by Civic Initiatives, Integra, Peace Action, and New Social Initiative, with the support of PAX and ICTJ, the exhibition was opened in Енџио хаб in Belgrade on Wednesday. The display uses photography as the medium to give a voice to the victims of wars – killed, kidnapped, missing, displaced, and their families.
The exhibition consists of 34 original photographs taken by four photographers in different places in Serbia, Kosovo, and Northern Macedonia. Atdhe Mulla, Borislav Pešić, Arbnora Memeti, and Nake Batev did not know each other but managed to, through their photographs, tell a universal story that united the painful memories of ordinary people and their suffering.
The stories use personal testimonies of victims to present several aspects of the wars in the former Yugoslavia – family photos of missing persons, crime scenes, mass graves, internally displaced persons, and memorials. All show the long-lasting consequences of the conflict still felt today and the tragedy and complexity of the war.
“The goal of this exhibition is to support victims’ families in the search for truth and justice and create space for building lasting peace in the region,” said Teodora Zahirović from Civic Initiatives at the opening of the exhibition.
Photographer and curator of the exhibition in Belgrade Borislav Pešić Blagoja said that he deliberately did not want to arrange the photographs by territorial origin and author but decided to mix them up:
“Just as I want the people of this region to mix, reconcile, offer a hand to each other, and hug. We have to move on. It is time to wipe away the tears and calm and reconcile the spirits. Let them watch over us, warn us, and take care that we don’t make the same mistakes again. ”
Nataša Šćepanović from the Kosmet Victims Association of Families said that there would be no progress without resolving the fate of missing persons and dealing with the past.
“The families of the victims were brought together by grief and pain. We send messages of peace, solidarity, and mutual empathy for the future of generations to come, for building a more humane and better society. Let all our common tears be a permanent reminder that similar fate never befalls anyone,” she said.
Photographer Arbnora Memeti said that there is little talk about the past in the Balkans because everyone perceives these stories as a “bomb that will explode” and is afraid. Still, it is necessary to talk about the past, it cannot be changed, but people can provide hands of reconciliation to start living differently.
Atdhe Mulla, a photographer from Pristina, pointed out that everyone knows the data about the war, but those are only numbers; the photos, however, show that there are people’s stories behind the numbers.
Sofija Todorović, program director of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights, assessed that the conversation about the past is inevitable because “if we are people, we owe it to those who are no more, we owe it; to ourselves and those who are coming.”
“This is an exhibition about the stories of victims of war – among them are Serbian victims and victims of other nationalities. For decades, we have been witnessing the manipulation of victims, and our message is that we will defend the memory of every innocent victim by building a future in which conflicts are not a real threat,” she said.
The exhibition “All Our Tears” will be open to visitors every day from 2 pm to 7 pm until June 1, 2022. During 2022, the photos will also be exhibited in Skopje and Pristina.
This exhibition officially opened the festival “Mirëdita, dobar dan!” which will last until May 28 in several Belgrade locations. This year’s edition of the festival, organized by the Youth Initiative for Human Rights, Civic Initiatives, Forum ZFD, and Integra from Kosovo, combines art, contemporary cultural scene and raises important issues concerning past and future in the future times that are a great challenge for Kosovo and Serbian society.
The text was originally taken from the Civic Initiative website in Serbian language.
The exhibition is a part of the project “Strengthening Inclusive Victim Voices, Transforming Narratives” (SIVV). This project is a joint initiative implemented in Kosovo, Serbia, and North Macedonia, by Peace Movement PAX, International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), Integra, New Social Initiative (NSI), Civic Initiatives (CI), and Peace Action (PA) and supported by the European Union.