Feb. 23 - Mar. 24
Cal Poly’s University Art Gallery will present “Sarajevo 1992-1995: Years of Peril,” a photographic series taken during the war by artist Milomir Kovačević. The series will run from Thursday, Feb. 23, through Friday, March 24.
Kovačević is a photographer from Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with a prolific career both in his homeland and in Paris, where he has been living and working since 1995. Between 1978 and 1995, he was a photographer for various journals in Sarajevo. He earned acclaim for his images of prisons, flea markets, rock concerts, soccer fans, political rallies, and most significantly, the war. In 2007, the president of France awarded him with the National Order of Merit at the rank of Knight (Chevalier dans l’Ordre National du Mérite) for his achievements in photography.
During the siege of Sarajevo (1992-96), Kovačević took more than 30,000 black and white photographs — images that captured the paradoxes of life inside the besieged city and depicted in a non-commercialized fashion the tragedy and humanity of his fellow citizens. Kovačević remembers the first exhibition of his war photographs in Sarajevo, calling it “a requiem of sorts” and stating, “We couldn’t put up posters with the date and time printed on it for fear of the exhibition being shelled. But I think it meant a lot to those who came. At one of my exhibitions, you literally had to risk your life to get there. People had to cross a bridge where snipers were shooting and where there were regular raids. Nevertheless, the place was packed.”
Photographs of the siege of Sarajevo, which include images of child soldiers, graveyards, familial separation and loss, will be on display in the University Art Gallery. Kovačević’s images are still relevant, considering the recent conflicts in the Middle East and the corresponding migration of refugees across Europe.
The University Art Gallery is free and open to the public from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. It is located in Room 171 in the Dexter Building (No. 34).