Exhibition in Sarajevo celebrates 30 years of friendship with Catalonia

Black and white photos portray connection between Barcelona and Bosnian capital

Photo from ‘Sarajevo Barcelona Light&Shade’ exhibition in Sarajevo by Anto Magzan
Photo from ‘Sarajevo Barcelona Light&Shade’ exhibition in Sarajevo by Anto Magzan / Anto Magzan

Maxime Van Cleven | Sarajevo

November 21, 2022 03:32 PM

To celebrate the 30-year long connection between Catalonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, a new exhibition that captures and matches the identities of Barcelona and Saravejo is on display in the Bosnian capital’s town hall.

‘Sarajevo Barcelona Light&Shade’ is an initiative by the delegation of the Catalan government in Southeastern Europe that wants to highlight the long-lasting connection between the two cities using photographs taken by Anto Magzan.

The exhibition shows a selection of black and white photographs that play with light and shadow while portraying the architecture and people of both cities, shaping a clear view of their identities.

Long-standing friendship

The connection with Bosnia and Herzegovina dates back to 1992 when Spain sent troops to support the United Nations peacekeeping efforts during the first year of the Bosnian War.

The death of young Catalan war photographer Jordi Pujol Puente triggered Catalan society to feel more invested in the conflict, with 340 municipalities holding a minute of silence every Monday. This year, the photographer received the posthumous title of honorary citizen of Saravejo.

During and after the war, Catalonia offered support and assistance to the East-European country and its victims through ‘District 11’, a body that coordinated assistance to Sarajevo and helped rebuild the Olympic village of Mojmilo, the Olympic stadium of Zetra and a school in Vogošća.

Barcelona signed an agreement of friendship and cooperation with Saravejo in 1994, leading towards the opening of a local embassy with Catalan representatives in the Bosnian capital two years later.

The cities have had a great connection ever since, organizing hundreds of cooperation projects over the years. Barcelona also considered Sarajevo as a partner city to host the 2030 Winter Olympics, as the Bosnian capital still has the venues from the 1984 edition.

Impressions of the cities

The works of Croatian photographer Anto Magzan are accompanied by written monographs from Bosnian writer Miljenko Jergović and Eric Hauck, delegate of the Catalan cabinet in Southeast Europe and former war correspondent in Sarajevo.

Watching from a Catalan perspective, Hauck said that “Barcelona and Sarajevo could appear as alternatives, but in reality they complement each other,” adding that “it is difficult to understand one without the other."

The collection shows people in different conditions, urban housing situations, monuments and more, all while maintaining the black and white aesthetic and sometimes using shade in a symbolic way.

Miljenko Jergović recalls getting “lost in the city” sometimes while looking at the photographs, to the extent of not knowing if he was looking at Barcelona or Sarajevo. “Magzan’s images tend to have this effect of reflecting other cities,” which is, according to the writer, something that is “only possible in dreams and photographs.”

Hauck concluded by saying that ”the generation of 1992 saw the light go out all at once, while the generation of 2022 is called upon to manage the shadows so that the sun will rise again.” The former correspondent believes that "we can achieve it together.”

The exhibition lasts until November 24 at Saravejo’s town hall and is free of charge.