Srebrenica: The Absence

Roger LeMoyne


“To make photographs, you must believe in an invisible world.” – Ilkka Uimonen

In July 1995, the Bosnian Serb military, under general Ratko Mladic, staged a takeover of the Bosnian Muslim safe haven of Srebrenica. Five days later, it was the site of the worst massacre in Europe since World War II with over 7000 men and boys executed. In the decade following the massacre, a bitter struggle ensues between: remembering and forgetting, crime and justice as well as truth and falsehood. General Ratko, Mladic and Radovan Karadzic (then President of Republika Srpska) have never been brought to trial.

The survivors of Srebrenica use photography in their pursuit of justice and many of these images can be seen as evidence of this atrocious war crime. This series by Roger Lemoyne began in 1995, when these events were unfolding. As they faded from news into history, experiences became memories and his photographs moved from recording tragic events to enabling remembrance. These pictures convey a sense of loss for missing loved ones, an unwavering need for justice and the importance of preserving history. The emptiness that permeates each image expresses the absence that lingers when thousands of people disappear.

Generously supported by CALQ (Counsil des Arts et Lettres du Quebec). Lecture May 3, see LECTURES.

Curated by Bonnie Rubenstein