Exhibition 7.3-13.3, Igor Čoko — Trapped or Hell is around the corner

A photographic documentary about the life of refugees from Afghanistan and Pakistan in abandoned hangars behind the Belgrade bus terminal, during the terrible winter of 2017.

*(Bilingual message Croatian and English)

Date: 7- 13.03.2019

Opening: Thursday, 7.3, 19:00

Location: Živi Atelje DK Gallery

During 2015 and 2016 over a million refugees mostly from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan passed through Belgrade, on their way to the European Union, through the so-called Balkan Route. From the moment barbed wires were set up on the border with Hungary that number was drastically reduced. Around 6,500 refugees remained stuck in Serbia in various collection centers. However, around 1,200 of them decided to take fate into their own hands and risk it all, in order to find a way to their desired destination on the other side of the wire. Turned back at the border, they stayed in abandoned warehouses in the Savamala area in the heart of Belgrade that was being slowly torn down to make room for the Belgrade on Water project. In inhumane conditions they spent nearly eight months, until the warehouses were finally torn down in the spring of 2017.

The project Trapped documents their life during the worst winter period when the snow unveiled the dimensions of hell in the abandoned warehouses, instead of hiding it. Until that moment they were relatively invisible in their own suffering. The photographs depicting them made them the epicenter of empathy and humanitarian activism by people who were led by the images and media publications to visit Serbia in large numbers in order to help the refugees given that the government of the Republic of Serbia refused any form of aid for refugees who were not registered.

Spending nearly three months with them, photographer Igor Čoko documented in a direct and immediate manner their life in such conditions, all the moments they experienced, from personal emotional agony and traumas after returning from the unsuccessful crossing of the wire fence, to moments of fun, joy and hospitality in such inhumane conditions.

Igor Čoko was born in 1975 in Knin, Croatia. He lives and works in Belgrade. He is a graduate of ethnology and anthropology. From the perspective of a visual anthropologist, he uses documentary and street photography to research the sensibility of people, street life and the life of stigmatized groups. He is the author of printed photography books “Subversive Aesthetics of the Street: Images of Opulent Reality,” “Behind Bars: Life of convicts in the County Prison in Belgrade” and “Karaburma, My Ghetto.”

▶ The exhibition remains open until March 13, workdays from 18:00 (6 pm) to 20:00 (8 pm), Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 (12 pm) to 14:00 (2 pm).

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Igor Čoko — Zarobljeni ili Pakao je tu iza ugla

Datum: 7.- 13.3.2019.

Otvorenje: četvrtak, 7.3., 19.00

Lokacija: galerija Živi Atelje DK

Fotografski dokumentarac o životu izbjeglica iz Afganistana i Pakistana u napuštenim hangarima iza beogradske autobusne stanice, tijekom paklene zime 2017.

Tijekom 2015. i 2016. godine preko milijun izbjeglica mahom iz Sirije, Afganistana, Iraka i Pakistana prošlo je kroz Beograd, na putu ka Europskoj uniji, tzv. Balkanskom rutom. Od trenutka postavljanja bodljikave žice na granici s Mađarskom, taj broj se drastično smanjio. U Srbiji je preostalo oko 6500 tisuća izbjeglica smještenih po kolektivnim centrima. Međutim, oko 1200 njih odlučilo je uzeti sudbinu u svoje ruke i zaigrati na kartu sve ili ništa, kako bi se dokopali željene destinacije s druge strane žice. Odbijeni na granici, odlučili su se za napuštena carinska skladišta u nekadašnjoj Savamaloj, srcu Beograda porušenog zbog izgradnje projekta “Beograd na vodi”. U dehumaniziranim i neljudskim uvjetima, proveli su skoro 8 mjeseci, tj. do trenutka rušenja istih u proljeće 2017. godine.

Projekt “Zarobljeni” dokumentirao je njihov život tijekom najgoreg perioda zime kada je snijeg umjesto da sakrije, zapravo otkrio dimenzije pakla napuštenih skladišta. Do tog trenutka relativno nevidljivi u svojoj nevolji, kroz fotografije koje su snimljene, postali su epicentar empatije i humanitarnog aktivizma ljudi koji su, vođeni snimljenim fotografijama i medijskim objavama istih masovno počeli dolaziti u Srbiju kako bi pomogli izbjeglicama jer je Vlada Republike Srbije odlučno odbijala svaku vrstu pomoći jer izbjeglice nisu registrirane.

Boraveći među njima gotovo tri mjeseca fotograf Igor Čoko, dokumentirao je na direktan i neposredan način njihov život u tim uvjetima, sve one trenutke kroz koje su prolazili, od lične emocionalne agonije do trauma nakon povratka s neuspješnog pokušaja prelaska preko žice, do trenutaka zabave, radosti i gostoprimstva u tim nehumanim uvjetima.

Igor Čoko rođen je 1975. godine u Kninu, Hrvatska. Živi i radi u Beogradu. Po obrazovanju je diplomirani etnolog – antropolog. Iz perspektive vizualnog antropologa, kroz dokumentarnu i uličnu fotografiju istražuje senzibilitet ljudi, uličnog života i života stigmatiziranih grupa. Autor je tiskanih knjiga fotografija “Subverzivna estetika ulice: Prizori raskošne stvarnosti”, “Iza rešetaka: Život osuđenika iz Okružnog zatvora u Beogradu” i “Karaburma, moj geto”.

▶ Izložba je otvorena do 13.3, radnim danom od 18 do 20 sati, a subotom i nedeljom od 12 do 14 sati.

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