In 2000, I traveled to Bosnia/Herzegovina for the first time with The ArtReach Foundation. It is an organization that teaches the techniques of art therapy to teachers and other support groups to begin a dialogue with their students about the trauma of war, natural and man-made disasters. While there, I documented the experience for ArtReach and took my own photographs. In 2001, I returned to Sarajevo with ArtReach to observe a weekend art therapy session with women who were staying in a local safe house. They were either kidnapped and raped during the Balkans Conflict (1992-1995) or recently kidnapped and sex-trafficked. I made these three photographs after listening to their harrowing stories. “Tuzla Road” is a photograph of a woman who was held captive in an official building that became a sex camp for Serbian soldiers during the war. Tuzla Road was a major thoroughfare during the war and this image also serves as a marker for the building where women were held against their will with terrible consequences. The fence and barbed wire in this image surrounded the building and in some ways still surrounds her. The break in the sign is significant in that it represents the damage that has occurred to all of them during this ordeal. The other two images are of women who were kidnapped post war; the woman in “Woman Trapped” signed up to find work in Italy, but the group she signed up with was not legitimate and she was put into a bar and made to work as a prostitute. Through the experience of art therapy, she was able to identify as a survivor and begin to find healing. The woman in the image “Woman and Death” was kidnapped twice and said they were holding her 4-year-old daughter so she will come back to them. She is in this safe house but worries about the safety of her child and what will happen to her in the future. It was sobering and humbling to hear their stories and see their strength and resilience. They had been through so much but just wanted to get back to their families and move on toward a normal life. Their faces are blocked out to protect their identities.
WCA Georgia Chapter
Judy Morris Lampert
archival digital photograph
20” x 36”
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