Sandra Vitaljić

Infertile grounds

Landscapes in the photographs from the Infertile Grounds series are marked by trauma, historical events and human experience. Woods, fields and rivers are part of folk tales and myths, but have also become part of a rhetoric legitimizing political systems and ideologies. Names like Jasenovac and Bleiburg went beyond their topographical referentiality, and each time they were mentioned included different possible interpretations and contextualisations. I was interested by places that political rhetoric had used copiously in inflammatory speeches during the 90s, places of institutionalised memory as well as those that had never been marked by a single memorial plaque. As after World War II, so after the war in the former Yugoslavia, the politics of memory labelled what needed remembering, and suppressed what it was desirable to forget. In the Infertile Grounds series I endeavour to create a place of memory within the space of the photograph, an alternative memento that is not created by ideology, rather by the need to open up the space of remembrance for victims who are never going to acquire their own space in the official culture of memory.


Series of photographs was created after many years of collecting newspaper articles and police reports of killings in partner relationships. Photographs show injuries on the body and organs which subsequently proved to be lethal. Body parts that once aroused romantic and erotic feelings are depicted dead, cold, "damaged"; and a universal symbol of love – pierced heart - is given a completely different meaning. Dismembered body parts were converted into fetishized photo-objects, which evoke gifts given in the name of love - love which is itself thus marked by possession. In a moment when it becomes impossible to own a loved one, it is converted into a thing, an inanimate object which can be discarded, thus destroying the source of pain. Through this series Beloved, I question loving relationships and destructive emotions which can arise from an idealized sense of love.