Welcome to Sarajevo, Europe

For the first time, i arrive at Sarajevo airport.
I feel like in a déjà vu place: the airport, lung of the survival, during the 4 year blockage by Serbian forces. 4 years, it has been more than Stalingrad, will repeat Bosnian friends.

I take a taxi, old red golf.

Welcome, sir…tells the driver, by swindling me with a smile…My first driving, today sir…

We pass along this long avenue, that I knew only from the litany of victims , targeted by snipers, and from images of the bombed trams. Impacts are still visible on the fronts of buildings. 

Welcome… in the rebuilt suburb, made of very high concrete buildings, shadows walking along the tram ,  chaotic, heroic tram, dressed of the photos of the last Jean Luc Godard movie , Nasa Muzika..
An old woman is sitting at the crossroad, against an electric board.
She is there, lsot.

Welcome…to the pigeon square of the Ottoman district, with its muezzins. Only place where i feel some serenity. The town  suffocates me. Enclosed places are un-breathable, people smoke so much. 

Sarajevo seems a bit like Grenoble, my town, the valley, the river crossing , stone bridges… and   4 x 4 cars , driving fast with the skis on the roof, to the nearby mountains.

My way to walk on Sarajevo streets is guided by memories.
Here , the favourite  bridges of snipers shooting from the very close hills, there still destroyed building on the former front line. My steps tread bullet traces. And white gravestones, in public gardens, at the Olympic stadium.
Omnipresence of absence.  

Azra, is your melancholic gaze, grey or green?
Can’t remember.
Wish to do photos of you, day and night.
We lost each other so fast.

Welcome…sad banality.

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Winter 2007

Text and pictures by Gérald Assouline


This travel to Sarajevo has been possible thanks to a mobility grant from the European Culture Foundation.

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