Alexandra Boulat

Bursts of War – Yugoslavia 1991 – 1999


Both observation and testimony, these photos show, the human drama of the last war of the twentieth century: crumbs, bits, bursts of humanity in tear, bruised, no national or religious claim can justify. Vukovar, Mostar, Sarajevo are all names that have become symbols of the unacceptable.
“It all started when I was 27, and my view of the world was that of a teenager. Vocation as a photographer, which I inherited from my father, had never confronted me neither death, nor violence, and war was for me an abstract value.
In mid-May 1991, while I was browsing the Yugoslav republics to shoot a story we would innocently call 
 “The breakup of Yugoslavia”, in Croatia, I was denied access to the village of Borovo Selo by a band of peasants Serbs. Hooded, armed with shotguns, drunk and aggressive, they were posted on a barricade made ​​of agricultural machinery. The road, mixed with oil drain shining under the sun of a late stormy day.

The storm would only break the following month, at the end of June. Slovenia and Croatia declared their independence. Then, and for several months, a rain of shells fell on the city of Vukovar and the surrounding countryside. When all Croats Serbs majority villages were finally devastated, the international community still did not speak of ethnic cleansing. In Croatia, the killing was over and the people already imagined the worst for the fate of Bosnia and Herzegovina. A relentless pace was packed fighting and beating time alarming news relayed by the media.

Thus, for almost ten years, I was to accompany to the cemetery thousands of people, Croats, who died for Croatia, Serbs for Greater Serbia, Bosnians because they were Bosnian and finally Albanians in Kosovo, because they were tired of the Serbs.
My conscience was buzzing with thick blood, inhabited by the thuds of the war, so close, so present. Therefore, in Yugoslavia I discovered as default hate for love and love for hate.”