October 14, 2015 – January 10, 2016
FotoDoks 2015: Past is Now

An exhibition in conjunction with the FotoDoks Festival of Contemporary Documentary Photography in Munich

In any today the yesterday remains perceptible – as a role model or formative influence, as a vague memory, a repetition or redefinition of something that has already been there before.

In dialogue with the partner region Ex-Yugoslavia (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia) FotoDoks 2015 examines the status quo and the potential of the yesterday within the present. The documentary positions of this year's exhibition find various ways to explore the theme "Past is Now": they work with existing archives or create new ones; they go on a search for historical traces and reflect upon cultural stereotypes and musical myths; they look back on 25 years of German reunification and 20 years since the Dayton Peace Agreement which ended the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. They question the promise of Europe and, as always with FotoDoks, the works reconsider the role of documentary photography and the media – and are not afraid to extend their documentary sensors to the areas of video and painting and put contemporary trends like the term "post-documentary" up for discussion.

Jaka Babnik, “Jebodrom“, 2012-2014 © Jaka Babnik
Collaboration-project: “Memories“, 2013/2014 © Leonie Felle
Katja Stuke & Oliver Sieber, “You and Me, Indira“, 2014 © Katja Stuke & Oliver Sieber
Hrvoje Slovenc, “Croatian Rhapsody“, 2014 © Hrvoje Slovenc


The exhibiting photographers:


Jaka Babnik (*1979, Slovenia)

Jebodrom“, 2012-2014

In photography landscapes are often used as witnesses that – obviously, atmospherically or with the additional information of a caption – refer to past, often also terrible events and the traces they have left. However, the places in Jaka Babnik’s photographs are of rather enjoyable nature and still up-to-date: wherever you are in the Balkans, "Jebodrom" is a colloquial term for areas that are particularly popular and suitable for outdoor sex. Babniks examination also refers to social and economic structures, which sometimes signify living together in a defined space and lacking of intimate retreats.

Roman Bezjak (*1962, Slovenia/Germany)

Socialist Modernism“, 2005-2010

When boundaries are moved or – as in the case of former Yugoslavia – a country vanishes entirely from the map, often only the buildings, monuments and architecture evoke memories of the past. Over the course of five years photographer Roman Bezjak repeatedly travelled Eastern and South-Eastern Europe as well as the eastern region of Germany to document public utility buildings, cultural centres, hotels and residential complexes. The post-war architecture embodies not only the erstwhile ideals and utopias of post-socialist countries, but occasionally also triggers negative recollections of the vanquished communist system.

Collaboration-project: Beate Engl (*1973, Germany), Leonie Felle (*1979, Germany), Sandra Filiç (*1974, Croatia), Franka Kaßner (*1976, Germany), Anton Bošnjak (*1971, Bosnia-Herzegovina), Philipp Messner (Germany), Alexander Steig (*1968, Germany), Thomas Thiede (*1967, Germany)

Memories“, 2013/2014

As part of the exchange projectCollaboration”, eight artists living in Munich went on several research trips to Mostar and Belgrade. On the Partisan Memorial Cemetery in Mostar they discovered a monument to the fallen partisans of World War II. Built in 1965 by the Serb architect Bogdan Bogdanović, the monument was destroyed during the war in Yugoslavia and set up as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina back in 2005. Today the place is deserted and overgrown with plants of all kinds. In their card game "Memories" the artist group document the vegetation at the monument and show how grass is proverbially growing over the traces of history.

Jörg Gläscher (*1966, Germany)

Echoland. Über das Ringen um Europa / Struggling for Europe“, 2014

With his work "Echoland" photographer Jörg Gläscher looks behind the scenes of one of the greatest political institutions in the world: the European Parliament in Brussels, Frankfurt and Strasbourg. He shows the struggle for Europe in the offices and assembly halls but also takes a look at those places and landscapes where Europe is actually taking place or has left its mark. "Echoland" connects past and present, inside and outside, the negotiation of diplomacy and the living presence of the European memory.

Ziyah Gafić (*1980, Bosnia-Herzegovina)

Quest for Identity“, 2010, ongoing project

Beyond killing, genocide is about erasing identities. Since 2010, photojournalist Ziyah Gafić has been cataloguing objects which are the witnesses reminiscent of the existence of about 30,000 missing persons of the Bosnian war: personal belongings, everyday objects like keys, books, combs and glasses that were exhumed from the mass graves and to this day, two decades after the conflict, serve to identify the dead. His visual archive is meant to facilitate the search of relatives for the bereaved, while, despite the sobriety of the presentation, allowing a personal identification with the victims.

Ibro Hasanović (*1981, Bosnia-Herzegovina/Kosovo)

Study for an Applause“, 2013

While historical events that should be remembered for political or ideological reasons used to be immortalized in idealized paintings, nowadays photography has largely taken over this function. In his work "Study for an Applause" the artist Ibro Hasanović shows that the depicted situations however, are staged in the same way. In a series of nine images he analyzes the applause of the nine international signatories of the Dayton Peace Agreement on December 14, 1995 in Paris that was captured in an iconic photograph by Gerard Julien (AFP). The peace treaty had ended the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and thereby marks one of the important historic reference points between the wars in Yugoslavia and the successive independence of its republics.

Tanja Kernweiss (*1981, Germany)

Wishing Well“, 2014, ongoing project

In the early 1990s, while the Soviet Union disintegrated, the first Iraq War broke out and with the conflict in Yugoslavia war also came back to Europe, a band from the American province translated the emotional state of the youth into sound: the songs of Nirvana deal with infringement, confusion, and looking for love and recognition – and are as touching now as they were at the time. Twenty years after the suicide of singer Kurt Cobain, photographer Tanja Kernweiss traces the myth about the band and visits the places of remembrance and mourning, which have been enriched over the years with symbolism and energy.


Borut Krajnc (*1964, Slovenia)

Politics (Politika)”, 2014

The fine line between publicity and propaganda is particularly evident in politically motivated media images and campaigns. The Slovenian photojournalist Borut Krajnc has worked for the weekly magazine Mladina since 1991 and accompanied, among others, the election campaign "Together – Encouraging Each Other" of the presidential candidate and current president of the Republic of Slovenia Borut Pahor. He published twelve of these images as a perpetual calendar with no annual figures, thus referring in addition to the absurdity of the embodied roles on the repeatability of such political staging.

Saša Kralj (*1965, Criatia)

Vrijeme u scru Bosne / Time in the Heart of Bosnia / Zeit im Herzen Bosniens“ (video), 2014

Exactly twenty years after the Associated Press photographer Saša Kralj captured a moment in the life of the young soldier Rasim during the Bosnian war, he finds him again. He presents him with the framed portrait and talks to him about their shared, traumatising phase of life and the events of recent years. Rasim’s story of poverty, unemployment and misfortunes illuminates a personal life that according to Saša also describes the state of Bosnia and the entire Balkans.

Tom Licht (*1972, Germany/Switzerland)

Vater, Sohn und der Krieg / Father, Son and the War“, 2013-2015

In 2013 photographer Tom Licht and his father went on a journey through Poland, Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, to find the place where 72 years ago his then 35-year-old grandfather had fallen in an attack at a Russian village. Following the footsteps of a man whom they both have never met in person, they are confronted not only with the barely healed scars of World War II, but also with their own, so far unexpressed emotional wounds.

Anne Morgenstern (*1976, Germany/Switzerland)

Land ohne Mitte / Country Without Centre“, 2012/2013

Even 25 years after German reunification, the image of the former East is beset by social and economic stigmata. Born in Leipzig in 1976 photographer Anne Morgenstern returned to her home Saxony in 2012/2013 to pursue her work "Country Without Centre". In the town of Hoyerswerda, which is anchored in the German memory as erstwhile lignite centre and particularly as a place of right-wing violence in 1991, she explores a present shaped by yesterday.

Vladimir Miladinović (*1981, Serbia)

Rendered History“, 2012, ongoing project

In his work Serbian artist Vladimir Miladinović deals with the politics of remembrance, the manipulation through the media and the creation and re-interpretation of historical narratives. Since 2012 Miladinović has been researching articles – first from local newspaper archives, then from international archives such as of El Pais” andThe Irish Times” which report about the war in former Yugoslavia, and finally reproduces the entire pages drawing them with ink. The daily news from the past, often including iconic photographs, are given a new presence, and additionally reflect on current structures.

Merlin Nadj-Toma (*1979, Germany/Serbia)

Here is every thing as 22 stars :-)“, 2011/2012

In recent years, Serbia has become a transit point for illegal immigrants from Central Asia and East Africa, who are heading towards the European Union. At the Serbian-Hungarian border, which is the last obstacle before reaching the Schengen area where no regular entry checks are applied, they often have to wait for weeks or even months. Born in Hanover and herself the daughter of Hungarian immigrants from Vojvodina in northern Serbia, photographer Merlin Nadj-Toma documented the life of the people in an illegal camp at the border. She makes visible how their dreams of a better future collide with the harsh reality of a Europe that does not want to receive them.

Dragan Petrović (*1958, Serbia)

Ohne Titel / Untitled

Working as a contract photographer for weddings, family gatherings and public festivities, Dragan Petrović has created, so to speak incidentally, a very striking and amusing portrait of Serbian society in the nineties. His remarkable archive – the importance of which is just being realized in today’s retrospectshows a view from the inside on "his people"; on exuberance and joie de vivre, which are also part of the collective memory of the time.

Hrvoje Slovenc (*1976, Serbia/USA)

Croatian Rhapsody“, 2014/2015, ongoing project

Sometimes a distance is needed to become aware of one’s own cultural anchoring, understood as an emotional imprint by history, people, customs, verbal and nonverbal language. Since 2002, Croatian photographer Hrvoje Slovenc has been living in New York, where his initial idealization of the notion home was soon replaced by a more critical and analytical perspective. In a non-narrative and open approach, which he likes to call "post-documentary", he combines images and stories, facts and fiction and creates an associative portrait of his newly found Croatia.

Katja Stuke (Germany) & Oliver Sieber (Germany)

You and Me“, 2014

In an extensive research, the artists Katja Stuke and Oliver Sieber trace the history of the Bosnian immigrant Indira. She came to Düsseldorf during the Bosnian war, where she lived from 1992 to 1999 and amongst others worked as a housekeeper of the Sieber family. When she was threatened by deportation, she moved to Chicago and their contact was lost. Her story is not a unique destiny and refers to a variety of topics that are associated with the shifting of borders, war, migration and uprooting.

Michael Wesely (*1963, Germany)

Humboldt-Forum, Berlin“, 2015, ongoing project

Photographer and artist Michael Wesely is known for his extremely long exposure times that, depending on the duration of the subject’s content, can last for days, months or years. With the image "Humboldt-Forum, Berlin" he shows the intermediate results of a, for the first time digital, exposure of the reconstruction of the Berlin City Palace, which he started in January 2014. Thereby he is not only documenting a part of local history of the German capital, but also connects the flowing processes of the past, present and future in one image.

FotoDoks Festival: October 13 – October 18, 2015
For details of the program, please visit www.fotodoks.de