Wednesday, 5 October 2011

My Belgrade by Boris Kralj

Boris Kralj: My Belgrade 

Just pictures and an intimate feeling remain in our mind, if we think about something which is gone forever. Boris Kralj's exhibition and photo book ‘My Belgrade’ tell the story about a country which does not exist anymore. Belgrade, a synonym for the last place which witnesses the artist's personal point of view on this very fragile theme Yugoslavia. On Kralj's numerous travels to the post Yugoslav countries, he discovered the little known city on the Balkan, which never had a heyday. It never came to suspicion to be a Paris of the East like other Eastern European cities, and was hardly mentioned, when it came to list the most beautiful places in Europe. It has been destroyed many times and forgotten by the rest of the world. Over the last two decades, it has become a synonym for a place of antipathy and violence.
However, this mystical and vivid city is the last evidence of Yugoslavia with its unmistakable signs, symbols and faces. For the last seven years Boris Kralj captured the bruised and melancholic spirit of Belgrade with his camera. It is strongly evident in the inimitable letterings on the decayed buildings and reflected in the faces of its people. Being tired of war, isolation and politics, Belgradians have kept a sense of nostalgia and above all awareness of their own origin in their hearts. Boris Kralj’s pictures are full of intensity and wistfulness, transporting the viewer to a place which is unknown to him and where the past, changeovers and new beginnings were always nearby; they are contemporary historical documents of a magical place.

I have never met Boris for real; we only got to know each other by social media. I have been following his work for few years and though I don’t know him very well I know how dear this project is for him. We have one thing in common for sure and that is the love and desire to explore our roots and the subject ‘Former Yugoslavia’. That is the reason why we got in touch in the first place. As some may know that is also returning subject in my own work. The other thing is the love for Belgrade. In the 90’s during the war in former Yugoslavia I have spent some time in Belgrade the city has always stayed in my heart. I am happy to witness that he succeeded to realise this project. Congratulations Boris!

While reading the press release I was particularly moved by this answer he gave to Kevin Braddock from ESQUIRE. I can fully relate to this feeling.
'I hope that when people come to my exhibition, they will know my other side, especially my German friends and other people who know me, who know that I have roots in Former Yugoslavia. They know I sometimes listen to strange music and speak Serbian, but it’s very difficult for me to show them this part of my life. When I’m in Belgrade, I have a second life and it’s like being two completely different people.'

‘My Belgrade’ by Boris Kralj has been released last week and is available here: Order! 

About 'My Belgrade' 
Boris Kralj's photography manifests everything that makes Belgrade so appealing, so morbidly fascinating and so dense, built upon countless layers of histories and ideologies. Twenty years after the breakout of the Yugoslav Wars, this is the evidence of one man's impulse to document the remaining fragments of the Yugoslav idea in the Serbian capital. It is a nostalgic project that is done with an earnestness and a naivety of which only someone who has never lived there could be capable. Boris Kralj has Yugoslav parents but was brought up in Germany; he attended Yugoslav school once a week, went with his parents on weekends to the Yugoslav club, followed by dinner at the local Yugoslav restaurant in his hometown. Summer holidays were spent with relatives back in Yugoslavia, but the poison of nationalism and the horrors of war in the 1990s changed everything: suddenly, his father and friends became Croats, his relatives Slovenes, acquaintances Bosnians and Belgrade an international pariah. The apparent nostalgia of this project is not reactionary, however. It responds to a more progressive idea of a Yugoslav multiculturalism, all the while resisting any idealization of the past. It is a documentary effort that capitulates to big statements – an approach that would seem made for a region that bears so many traces of the propagandas of the past.

About Boris Kralj 
Boris Kralj was born in Göppingen, Germany, in 1976 to parents from the former Yugoslavia. He graduated in photography at Lette Verein in Berlin and focused on fashion and documentary photography. While working in the fashion business as a photographer and model scout for years, his family’s origins and the impact of the wars in the Balkans had a remarkable influence on his work and interests. He has a great affection for styled fashion shootings and portraiture, while his documentary work is both raw and authentic.Boris’s clients include fashion brands and magazines as well as actors and artists. In 2011 he founded a club where he regularly shows movies from former Yugoslav countries. His photobook “My Belgrade” is the culmination of a project that has developed over many years and will be accompanied with an exhibition. Boris Kralj works and lives in Berlin.

Take a look at the rest of his work:

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