This article was originally published on VICE Serbia.
I've been scouring Belgrade's Kalenić and Bajloni farmers' markets for vintage photographs since 2009. The fact that I'm able to unearth these gems among boxes of tomatoes, carrots, and celery has always been a point of pleasure for me, but recently I came across something that ramped all of that up another notch.
A few months ago I came across some vintage erotica photos posted to Tumblr by a collector. I figured there'd be no harm in asking my usual vendors if they had anything similar in stock, and, as it turned out, some did—though they weren't all quick to show me, and the question, "Do you have any nudes?" made a number of them blush before they were able to dig out what I was looking for.
For a while, my main vendor for this stuff was an elderly woman named Biljana at the Kalenić market. She had a metal box filled with about 100 photos that she kept out of sight below her stall. I make a regular routine of visiting her and picking the ones I liked, or the ones I could afford at the time, until one day she told me she was out of stock. Apparently a priest had come and bought it all up.
As a collector, I'm extremely interested in the history behind each one of my photographs. I've done some research into the erotic pictures, mostly online, but it hasn't always been easy, as many of them don't have a date or any other kind of inscription written on the back—the first place you check when buying old photos.
Still, I've managed to find out who shot some of them, and who some of the models are in others (most are Soviet pinup girls from the interwar period). The easiest photos to research have been those in which the models were dressed or partially naked, as it allows me to approximate a date based on details in the photos, like the fashion or the furniture.
So far, I've managed to gather about 90 photographs, but it's been a while since I last counted. I'd like to turn them all into a book, but I have no idea who would buy it in Serbia. Any potential buyers out there, HMU.
Words: Biljana Marinkovic, as told to Magda Janjic.