This Land is my Land

REPORTED BY KONSTANTIN NOVAKOVIC

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Biography

Konstantin Novaković is a documentary photographer based in Belgrade, Serbia. He graduated from the Department of Art History at the University of Belgrade. Also, he holds an MA degree in Cultural Policy and Management from the University of Arts in Belgrade/Université Lyon 2 and yet another MA degree in Cultural Heritage Studies from the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary. Currently, his work is mainly focused on documentary photography and visual storytelling with a range of topics that are related to his formal educational expertise, geographically covering several regions, from South Asia and the Greater Middle East to the Balkans. Thematically, he is aiming to tell both the stories related to the current issues and geopolitics and as well those about the culture, vanishing traditions and religious customs of different peoples and ethno-religious communities from the abovementioned geographic regions. Through his work, he is also aiming to explore and document various cross-cultural links between the Balkans and various parts of Asia.

Photo part of the project This Land is my Land

THIS LAND IS MY LAND

The project aims to inform the local population of the rich cultural heritage of the migrants that are currently stuck on the Balkan route and who are routinely depicted in the media as trespassers, as ‘the unwanted,’ and as dangerous. This series of portraits of migrants that come from countries in Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa visually fuses their contemporary itinerant status with their enchanting cultural background. The subject of each portrait poses with a photo created by the author of this project in their home countries that respesents the collective memory of their home. Alongside each portrait, the subject’s testimony explains their reason for traveling the Balkan route and the significance of the ‘homeland’ photo they hold.

 

This project thus breaks down the depersonalized images of migrants that dominate our news cycle, instead giving a human face to these individuals and a personalized portrayal of their home and their journey. This unique approach to visualizing a dire contemporary situation: by showing the beauty and depth of far-away cultures and traditions, works to bridge disparate communities and foster curiosity and goodwill about ‘the other.’ Along with the portraits, the selection of photos includes images of their temporary homes, improvised shelters depicting the hardships they face druing their perilous journey.

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Mohammad with a photo of the Great Colonnade at Palmyra. “Palmyra was a symbol of Syria and it still is but it was badly damaged during the war.”

Mohammad (25) left Aleppo in Syria two and a half years ago, after the fighting in his hometown was already over. During his journey that he started from Sudan, as the only country where he could fly to without a visa, Mohammad stayed in twelve countries, before reaching Serbia where he is for sixteen months already. Currently he stays at the Reception Center in Obrenovac near the Serbian capital, waiting for the chance to cross the Hungarian border and join his brother in Germany.

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Mustafa with a photo of the Darul Aman Palace. “Now the palace is completely renovated and looks much better.”

Mustafa (25) from Kabul, Afghanistan is on the road for five years already. After staying for three years in Greece he is stranded in Bosnia for already two years after being violently pushed back from Croatia for twelve times. Currently he lives in the abandoned factory on the outskirts of Bihać, waiting for weather conditions to improve in order to try to make it to Italy again.

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