Ziyah Gafić was born in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1980. Living in Sarajevo, he is an award-winning photo journalist and member of the photo agency VII. Gafić’s picture series Quest for Identity is unlike his earlier works. As a documentary photographer, Gafić has followed conflicts all over the world for more than twenty years, portrayed through intimate and human moments. Quest for Identity is instead a forensic depiction of objects: clocks, keys, combs, glasses, even a glass eye. Private photographs of weddings, families and loving couples are unearthed. Photographs found in the mass graves of the Srebrenica massacre.
Gafić is interested in how the structure and pattern of violence affects national and individual identity. This also applies to his own identity. Like many Bosnians, he has been shaped by the war in the former Yugoslavia. In 2010 Gafić went through a crisis, a sense of frustration about his work. As a photographer, he wanted to liberate himself from a subjective and narrative perspective, he wanted to document. Then Gafić remembered an anthropologist who in 2002 requested some pictures of artifacts from the mass graves. Could these souvenirs perhaps be used to identify the dead? Maybe someone would recognize them. After obtaining permission, Gafić began systematically taking pictures of the thousands of the things that had been dug up.
The genocide in Srebrenica, the first on European soil since the Holocaust; about 8,000 Bosnians were murdered. Homes have been destroyed, bodies have decomposed and the survivors have been scattered over the world. The photographs make up an archive, a kind of encyclopaedia that says something about those who were murdered. About their dreams and ambitions. The work is still in progress.