War invalids are not very liked by most people: for many it is not easy to watch those made cripple by bomb explosions, for others they represent a constant reminder of a conflict that they would prefer to leave behind.

Twenty years after the end of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 34-year-old Adis Smajic still has a score to settle: after losing an arm and a eye at the age of 13 in a landmine explosion and after undergoing dozens of operations, he is now forced to live with the phantom limb syndrome and to periodically replace his prothetic eye. “My prostheses only serve for others, those who look at me -Adis claims- but not for me. 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”. Recognizing your own body, the parts that make up the whole, determines your own proprioception. The perception of yourself. Adis suffers from a body-image disorder. In Adis’ mind, ‘the area dedicated to his arm’, where the position and the presence of the arm is represented, plays tricks on him. Even in the absence of it, he still feels it as part of his corporeal self. It is a dead limb from a photographic point of view, but totally alive from an existential and neural one. His right arm and eye have disappeared, vanished in space and time, but are still present as a latent image: phantom, exactly. The phantoms that also represent a metaphor of Bosnia’s own identity.

PHANTOM COUNTRY SYNDROME (2014-2016)