Between 2014 and 2017 we visited fourteen cities in different regions of Serbia within the self-initiated project Serbia Raw: Valjevo, Bor, Subotica, Knjaževac, Pančevo, Novi Sad, Novi Pazar, Niš, Zrenjanin, Požega, Kraljevo, Kragujevac, Vranje and Jagodina.
In each of the cities we held a two-day workshop revolving around documentary photography, its contextualization and the importance of forming photo archives. The idea was not only to share our experiences, knowledge and thoughts on this topic with the participants, but also to get acquainted with the photographic material produced every day throughout the country, created by its inhabitants.
The workshops were attended by both professionals and amateurs; some of them used analogue while others used digital cameras, and some took photos only by cell phones. Some had started taking photographs before the members of the collective were born, and some had discovered photography just a few months before applying to the workshop. Together, we pondered upon photography as a word and as a document, we dealt with authorship and distancing from it, all this within creating visual narratives about the cities we live in.
We even coined a new Serbian word (složaj) in order to translate the English noun edit.
At the end of each one-year cycle, in Belgrade we presented the results of the workshops in the form of a photo exhibition of the people who had attended them. There we would meet at least one participant from each city again, whereas they would also have the opportunity to get to know each other and exchange experiences.
For us, the members, working on this project was a great and powerful experience. First of all, we got to know new people, the cities and parts of Serbia through our individual involvement and photographic views, but also through the lenses and stories of workshops’ participants. We learned a lot. For us, Serbia showed itself to be multi-layered – cordial, beautiful and dear, but also frightened and sad.
Тhe Serbia Raw book is made of 13 sheets in which the results of the workshops are presented, and a photo book with photos taken by the members of the collective while staying in these cities, packed in a cardboard box. The curatorial text was written by Maja Ćirić, an art historian.