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Srebrenica, Tarik Samarah
- Rauch, Peter
The book on Srebrenica is from Samarah’s point of view a representation of eloquent facts. In author’s opinion there is nothing to be added to his photographs as they thoroughly speak the truth. But at least two difficulties emerge in this perception of documenting a historical event. Both difficulties refer to Samarah’s personal approach and to the nature of photographic medium, in this case to a photographic book. First a difficulty appears in a relation to the event itself. Samarah does not document the genocide in progress neither does he document an aftermath or local consequences today. On the contrary he is taking pictures of anything that could testify to the actuality and the resonance of the event: excavations of mass graves, burials, material evidence. But from the other point of view even these photographs cannot stand as an indisputable evidence of the event. For example a black-and-white image of a skeleton arm held by a hand in a rubber glove is an independent aesthetic object (a quote, an excerpt, a frame etc.) where an author demonstrates all his skills and understanding of the medium. It is inevitable not to perceive it as an aesthetic object and in case of a photography-evidence it always invalidates the status of the latter - an evidence. It is exactly for this reason that Samarah’s book becomes so shocking; not as a document but as a personal reflection, as a translation of a historical event into an object and - in the case of Samarah’s project - into a new event with a new context and new audience. The history can exist only through an individual expression, quotation, appropriation and transformation. Nevertheless, Samarah’s message is true, despite his arguments being wrong.
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