Davor Konjikušić

Holy People

Anthropometric portrait is a standardized photographic method which reduces the errors in measurements and observations of people’s faces, introduced by Alphonse Bertillon in the 19th century. With some modifications, this method is still being used for making portraits of criminals. These identification techniques have spread over time and, through the use of biometric photography, it now covers the whole population. This type of photography is used today in order to exert control over immigrants, i.e. asylum seeker in the EU countries. The starting point of my work is the official “Biometric Photo Requirements” sent to photographers by the Ministry of Interior after Croatia had joined the EU. Following the requirements I take photos of asylum seekers, intentionally making an error – I allow for minimal facial expressions which show their personality thus rejecting to take their individuality away from them and reduce them to archival data. By shifting the power relation I question the role of the medium of photography as a political instrument used for control and surveillance. By exhibiting the photos of asylum seekers in the form of posters in public spaces which I find the most obvious places of social antagonisms, i.e. power relations, I want to make the immigrants visible at least on a symbolic level. I pose the question of their status, position and EU immigration policies in general. I follow and document the decay of photos exhibited in public spaces where the portraits are exposed to various interventions mainly showing our relationship towards “Others”. The work consists of three parts: the portraits of asylum seekers, interventions into public spaces, i.e. photographs which show the relationship between the posters, architecture and people, as well as the photographs of the destruction and decay of these interventions. The project is accompanied by a video which documents the interventions into the public space.


In the series “Genogram” I question the inherited memories and events which marked my life and the life of my parents. Several years ago through systemic psychotherapy I was made aware of two neuralgic points which significantly marked me. The first one is the death of my sister Aleksandra who died at the age of six – two years before my birth. The second one is leaving Zenica when I was twelve years old, at the very beginning of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The story about refuge and the war is a story about the loss of identity, uprooting and a new beginning. My personal role in these events is small because the first event happened before I was born, while the second one happened when I was a child. They were both imposed on me and my role in them was passive. This work is a meeting place and an attempt to search for answers that might eventually give me resolution. This is a confrontation with a so far unidentified place of sorrow. However, sometimes there are no clear answers. “Puzzles” are scattered on the wall, I feel relief in confession and my personal progress is in the confrontation through both photography and hidden family photos, and also by writing this text. The work itself becomes self-help and the place of my personal catharsis regardless of whether I found the answers or not. “Genogram” as a series of family photographs, landscapes or places that I observe passively from the margins, from a distance of nearly 20 years, is not a photographic series. For me, it is a process, defragmenting, processing and confronting the past by the very fact that I’m exposing my very private story to the public. By showing them, I’m revealing my traumas and legacy; through the process of objectification, I am able to take the outside perspective. The memories and photographs are coming out of me and are being exhibited on the wall; they are becoming the thing of the past, some exterior object; they provide me with a sense of control that is outside of me. I give them a ritual burial on the wall. There are no answers, but answers aren’t important anyway.


جنگل / The Jungle is the name that immigrants use for the outdoor spaces on their way through the Western Balkans. Even though there is no real jungle in this region, instead of the word forest they use the word “gangal”, which in Farsi means the jungle. For immigrants, this word holds a spatial meaning of residence, protection and hiding. The jungle is an invisible space which I examine from a distance, following traces.