Part of the ongoing series of photobooks published by The New Press with the Arcus Foundation and Emerson, Wajdowicz Studios on queer communities around the world, “Lives in Transition: LGBTQ Serbia” is a stunning portrait of a community battling discrimination in Serbia. The photography series will be on display at The Center from Jan 23-Feb 25, 2019.
In June 2001, Serbia witnessed its first LGBTQ pride parade in Belgrade’s Central Square. It was a short-lived march, as an ultranationalist mob quickly descended on the participants, chanting homophobic slurs and injuring dozens. For years afterward, fear of violence prevented further marches, and when, in October 2010, the next pride march finally went ahead, it again devolved into violence as anti-LGBTQ rioters, firing shots and hurling petrol bombs, fought the police. It was only in 2014 that a pride march was held uninterrupted, albeit under heavy police protection.
In “Lives in Transition,” Randjelović captures the struggles and successes of 20 LGBTQ people living throughout Serbia—a conservative, religious country where, despite semi-progressive LGBTQ protection laws, discrimination fueled by religious authorities and right-wing political parties remains deeply entrenched. In a country where lack of employment opportunities and hostile families frequently drive queer people into poverty and isolation, these individuals have struggled to build a community that will offer solace, protection and even joy. This exhibit portrays remarkable and inspiring resilience in the human struggle against a repressive social environment and demonstrates how friendship and community can help people shape their own futures.