The Aftermath Project
is a non-profit organization committed to telling the other half of the story of conflict — the story of what it takes for individuals to learn to live again, to rebuild destroyed lives and homes, to restore civil societies, to address the lingering wounds of war while struggling to create new avenues for peace. The Aftermath Project holds a yearly grant competition open to working photographers worldwide covering the aftermath of conflict. In addition, through partnerships with universities, photography institutions and non-profit organizations, the Project seeks to help broaden the public’s understanding of the true cost of war — and the real price of peace — through international traveling exhibitions and educational outreach in communities and schools.
The winner of the 2023 post-conflict grant is the Slovenian photographer Jošt Franko
with his long term project following disrupted peoples and landscapes across the former Yugoslavia.
I went to my birthplace after 30 years.
I had left it in 1992.
I don't know how to describe what I saw.
It was all overgrown.
When I came and saw my father's house,
I wished my heart would burst on the spot.
There was nobody there.
When I went to my village and saw...
What can you see?
With all that beauty of the Drina Valley
and its grace, it was all overgrown
into a wilderness.
As if nobody had ever existed.
- Hazira Đafić
Hazira has fled Srebrenica at the onset of the war in Bosnia with her brother Merfin and her year-old son in 1992. Soon after reaching safe-haven, she was moved into a temporary refugee settlement built by the international community called Ježevac, where she has permanently stayed. For over three decades, Hazira has been living in utmost precarious conditions - often without running water, basic sanitary needs, and means of survival. She shares a fate with people across the region of former Yugoslavia, individuals and communities who remain displaced and live in temporary
refugee settlements, for whom the conflict and its consequences have hardly ended. ''I was born five years after the war, and yet I am born into displacement, I am born a refugee,'' says Salčin Isaković. ''Of course, many have lost their relatives during the war, but here in Višča settlement where I live, it feels like we relive those loses every day.''
Višča, Karaula, Belvedere, Mihatovići, Ježevac, Sokolac, Barake, Mrdići, and various other still active refugee settlements are a sphere, where the remnants of conflict are constantly present. They are indeed a sphere, where war has reproduced precarity and made it visible in the form of everyday life. But these refugee settlements are also a source of counter-narrative, of the many lost, unspoken or unheard histories of the displaced communities. The proposed project therefore considers refugee settlements in the region of former Yugoslavia as spaces where culture, heritage, and destiny of those who were subjected to annihilation is preserved.
The project envisions to collaborate with permanently displaced whose only sense of home are often memories. And whose act of sharing those memories and telling stories of loss, of their past life, or of their dreams from the childhoods, are the final act of resistance towards their forceful displacement and towards the bloodshed that has taken away the future of many. The project titled Nicht Fallen *
, proposes to document and engage with the aftermath as not only incomplete, but as an ongoing history.
Through various photographic mediums and approaches as well as through collecting oral histories and textual interventions on images, Nicht Fallen
proposes to create a counter-archive about the existing but often unheard or unspoken stories, destinies, and situated knowledges of people who have been forced to live in permanent displacement decades after the conflict has ended. Nicht Fallen proposes to follow the issue and stories of long-term displacement 30 years after people began to live in refugee camps where they permanently stayed and to visualise the durational experience of what James Agee called ‘a cruel radiance of what is'.
The project proposes to create an in-depth, multi-layered, and multi-vocal document of those, who were never fortunate enough to find peace after the end of the war - and put these visual narratives and stories on display in order to protect and to advocate. Nicht Fallen proposes to stand as an ongoing counter-archive, denouncing the brutality of conflict, violence, and long-term displacement which condemn people to the margins of visibility.
* 10 years after the Dayton agreement, that officially ended the conflict, Hazira's brother Merfin has stepped on a landmine near a refugee camp and died. Hazira has later on framed his obituary photograph in a broken frame and tapped over it with the only tape she had - an orange safety tape with German warnings written on top of it. The warning among other read: Nicht Fallen (english: do not fall).
Jošt Franko is a visual artist and photographer interested in examining long-term and in-depth stories of marginalized groups and individuals. His artistic practice and research is focused on questions such as displacement, migrations, and individuals and communities on fringes of society.
Franko’s work focuses on foreign and domestic social issues through interdisciplinary projects dealing with concealed, overlooked, and invisible topics. His practice is primarily based in photography, video, installations, collage, and text. He has obtained a Masters’ degree from Goldsmiths, London and is a PhD candidate in artistic research at the University of Applied Arts Vienna.
He has been focusing on the Balkan region, where with the help of image-making, he researches the consequences of the break-up of Yugoslavia, of the war that has ravaged through the region, and the shifts in political, cultural, and economic dimensions. The focus of his work in the Balkans are often refugee settlements, which have been housing the same individuals and families since the 1990s.
Franko has been a finalist of the prestigious Lange-Taylor prize several times, has received recognition from the Documentary Essay Prize, awarded by the Duke University, is a recipient of multiple Pulitzer Centre grants, and a TED Fellowship. His work was among others exhibited in various museums and festivals in Slovenia and abroad, including the New York Photo Festival (2010), Finnish Museum of Photography (2017), Format International Photography Festival (2017), Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Koroška (2019), Museum of Modern Art Klagenfurt (2020), and Museum of Contemporary Art Ljubljana +MSUM (2020).
His work was profiled by numerous national and international media outlets, including TIME Magazine (Jošt Franko, The Young Slovenian), The New Yorker (Jost Franko’s Disappearing Slovenia), The New York Times, La Repubblica, Washington Post, Delo, Dnevnik, Sobotna priloga, Mladina. In 2010, Franko won the Slovenia Press Photo photo-essay of the year award and later on joined VII Photo Agency
as the youngest member ever to be affiliated with VII.
All about Jošt Franko