This photo series has emerged from six years of living and working in the Balkans and is my personal response to the region's confounding atmosphere. I moved to Belgrade in February 2009, and was based there until this year.
During my time in the area I photographed details of society that both reflect and undermine the popular Serbian creation myths. Many of these issues are rooted in the complicated phrase "Only Unity Saves the Serbs," which was popular in the narrative of mass political manipulation during the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the wars that took place in its vacuum. Serbia is still recovering from the post-traumatic stress of those years, leading to a national confusion about identity and a productive path forward.
I focused on diverse subjects within the Serbian landscape, which are far removed from any reality espoused by politicians. Young men and women are being raised in a divided, uncertain atmosphere and I wanted to capture that essence so that we can further consider the implications of a Balkan region that will be led by this generation. It is impossible to analyze or understand any event in this region without first considering its historical roots. I am interested in exploring and understanding the parts of today's Balkan society that the next generation will read about in their history textbooks. What is happening now in the streets and in political negotiations will have a profound impact on regional stability in the future.
There are many elements that contribute to a hostile and sometimes desperate atmosphere in Serbia today. But there are also moments that show healing and a glimpse at a different future than many have seen for themselves in the last decade. The growing pains of this developing democracy must continue to be carefully documented and explored, as the battles of the 1990s have yet to be finally played out. I've experienced alarming apathy and a lack of compassion from many youth across the Balkans, and I hope to confront them directly with a different picture of the countries and history they will inherit.