Thursday, 12 June 2014

'Nothing is ever good enough but nobody wants to leave'

Overnight Generation by Italo Morales is a book about the youth of Sarajevo, people living in a city with an identity that dictated to by the past. How do you overcome the trauma that still remains in the city, how do you build an identity that can escape the pressures to be of a certain ethnic identity or religious persuasion.

In the introduction, Federico Sicurella writes about how Western visitors contribute to this forced identification; '...from the intrepid film-maker to the deferential student absorbed in a case study, the inquiring visitor issues the same injunction to the young people of the city: "Please explain yourself."

The explanation always seems to be the same, according to Sicurella, a story from the collective memory of how Sarajevo used to be this paradise of diversity and tolerance. Morales tries to go beyond that in his images, making an empathetic and rather questioning series that take us into the lives of the people he photographs.

And it's not always easy. These are difficult lives. It says in the introduction that in Sarajevo '...nothing is ever good enough but nobody wants to leave.' But looking through the pictures, you get the feeling there might be a bit of pragmatic black humour about that. There might be a spirit in the place and an energy, but the economic torpor and the dismalness are also apparent. And that kind of sums up the dilemma of modern life. What do you want from it; a tsunami of theoretical opportunities and a veneer of wealth and opportunity, or the dynamism/sloth of the here and now.

Buy the book here.

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