From the First World War to the conflict ended in 1996, Bosnian people have experienced the opening and the closing of an atrocious century for the violation of human rights.
More than 20 years after the end of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 34-year-old Adis Smajic still lives with the effects of the conflict. Adis lost part of his right arm and his left eye at the age of 13 in a landmine explosion and, after undergoing dozens of operations, he still struggles with “phantom limb” syndrome and has to periodically replace his prosthetic eye. “My prostheses only serve for others, those who look at me, but not for me,” says Adis. “Sometimes I feel I don’t have the patience for anything, not even for my son, Alen. My eye-nerves, the arm I lost; it’s just too weird, I don’t know what is going on. The problem is in my mind, my phantom limb is right here. I feel the need to clench my fist with my missing hand, to grasp something; those are the kinds of stimuli I feel most often, but I can’t satisfy them.” Sarajevo has the faded edges of a timeless city and in its outskirts, near to what was the front line, Adis’s family lives. A spectral city in many ways, with the marks left by the conflict still etched into the skin and the soul of its inhabitants. Your gaze gets lost among the mountains that frame the valley, beyond a blanket of fog that outlines a fairytale frame about to fade away bringing everyone back to reality. From youth unemployment exceeding the 40% threshold, to the nationalisms feeding on their own rhetoric, till the missing persons who keep surfacing from the ground. War injuries sometimes make people uncomfortable: for many it is not easy to see those maimed by violence, for some they are a reminder of a conflict they would prefer to forget. Adis’s arm and eye are missing, yet they are still present as a latent image – as phantoms that are also a metaphor of Bosnia’s identity.