Requiem ’94.

Exhibition dedicated to the performance of Mozart's Requiem at the Sarajevo City Hall in 1994

Some events shake us so much that we can't forget them; their scenes are forever etched in our memory. The horrors and the sufferings of war are as much a universal as a local subject: all ruins look alike, but their background stories are different. One such story, a photographic one, is here before us, in the photos by Mario Majcan. As a violist of the Symphony Orchestra of the Croatian Radio and Television he came to Sarajevo, with several of his colleagues, during the war in 1994, to play with their colleagues from the Sarajevo Philharmonic, in the middle of the ruins of the National Library of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Conducted by the world famous conductor Zubin Mehta, a concert was held with the star soloists: Jose Carerras, Ruggero Raimondi, Cecilia Gasdia and Ildiko Komlosi. I imagine that the music was resounding, traveling through space, and it grew and grew, outside and beyond the shattered walls and the ceilings of the Library, in opposition to the chaos and the destruction in whose midst it was played, as a sign of hope for a better and more humane world. A world that does not destroy books and manuscripts, a whole history of this land from the Middle Ages onwards, by shelling the primary institution of science and education in BIH, thus wounding the center of culture and identity of a whole region.

But, Mario Majcan does not reflect upon the universal meaning of such an event – his (photographic) ambitions are of a more intimate nature. In his photographs he records a city where he served in the Army, during the mid-Eighties, in another, much different time. Now, 10 years later, he walks through the town and records the sights he comes across, with melancholy and sadness. A malnourished girl who poses in front of crumbling buildings, of lively and strong spirit, the old city cemetery in which, due to the occupation, the dead are again buried, broken and taped again windows, piece of a building facade with the image of Wolfy, known mascot of the Winter Olympics of 1984, another reminder of some other time. The mascot has fallen off, what remains is a dented area in the wall surrounded by shrapnel scars. And so on, and so on…

Sarajevo in war was surely an exploited theme for the news reporters, but the photographs by Mario Majcan do not belong to this category. They have grown spontaneously, as a result of an intimate need, and not by order. As a reaction of a stranger who returns to the place he visited once before, but now in completely different circumstances. And with compassion for that place (people and location). Today, 20 years later, these photos remind us: Never again!

Maša Štrbac


Mario Majcan was born in Zagreb in 1966. He has been a member of the HRT Symphony Orchestra since 1991.
He has been exhibiting his photographs since 1994. (Croatian Photography 1994.) He is a member of ULUPUH

SARAJEVO, May 10, 2014