Exhibition dates: August 4th, 2014 through August 31st, 2014 in the Ernst Center Verizon Gallery
Mostar: A Photographic Survey is a project that I undertook as a Fulbright Scholar. This photographic survey was intended to highlight the glimpses that I had into like in this contested city. It is impossible to include all the moments of daily life, but this exhibition should present some hint of life, from the Roma to the public Obituaries tapped to street lights to the immense mountains that surround the city. Wherever one turns, one can glimpse how politics impact architecture. The Synagogue was transformed by Tito into a puppet theater, and the proposed new Synagogue and Peace center has reminded a single cornerstone for the past 10 years. A shining new Mall sits next to bombed out War Ruins. One of the oldest Mosques is pockmarked with shell damage, but hosts a soup kitchen and a public tour.
Mostar has been called the Stalingrad of the Bosnian War (1992-95). Sustaining the heaviest damage, the east side of the city was nearly destroyed in the shelling by Croatian forces. On November 11, 1993, they destroyed the last bridge linking the West to the East. The Stari Most (the Old Bridge), a foot bridge, represented the height of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. Its destruction was an example of how an everyday architecture can be transformed into a monument. Its destruction ensured its survival. Rebuilt in 2004, the Stari Most reminds us of the power of architecture to transform identity. Mostar, after all, means bridge keeper.
The Stari Most represents many things and these things are unique to Bosnia and Herzegovina. This irrepressible country, the most diverse in Europe, is also the most fraught by it diversity. Rebuilding the bridge was equally complicated for the original engineer was an architect, who built the bridge four times before he could get it to stand. Some say the bridge was built at a point where two lovers were kissing, ensuring its stability. Others say the architect learned through trial and error. Now, the bridge is a tourist destination for tourists visiting Medjugorje and a link for Mostar citizens to cross the river in the older part of the city. And like so much in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the meaning and history is too complex to capture in a moment, a paragraph, a photograph.