Silent Fleeting Sorrows

  • Dates
    2020 - Ongoing
  • Author
  • Topics Daily Life, Social Issues, Contemporary Issues

Silent Fleeting Sorrows is a personal story about the post-war generation living in Slavonia, Croatia. Unraveling the legacy of mistrust and intergenerational trauma in the region.

2021 marked the 30th anniversary of Croatia's independence. In its short history, the Republic faced many challenges in transitioning from the socialist legacy of Yugoslavia to modern-day Europe. While coastal regions have prospered due to tourism, the inland region of Slavonia has struggled to adapt to the changing economic and political landscape.

Through visual research “Silent Fleeting Sorrows” explores the effects of the ongoing emigration crisis and the experiences of my peers, the post-war generation living in Slavonia, Croatia. Unraveling a story about the legacy of mistrust and trauma in the region that has been heavily affected by the long-lasting effects of war, corruption, and political negligence.

I am interested in how intergenerational traumas and cultural turmoils influence and shape the social fabric of a community and the identities of generations raised in post-war atmospheres. The feeling of isolation and a lack of opportunities can lead to a sense of disillusionment, and many of us feel disconnected from the cultural conversations at large. Growing up in a post-war culture that encourages the suppression of emotions can make it difficult to express complex feelings that arise during times of crisis. Through Silent Fleeting Sorrows, I aim to visually unlearn patterns and systems that have been imposed upon my generation.

Exploring domestic life gave me an insight into how different social-cultural artifacts influence and shape the social fabric of the community and the identities of younger generations. I decided to visually focus on my immediate surroundings, friends, and family and that allowed me to explore this topic from an intimate and nuanced perspective.

© Matej Jurčević - Image from the Silent Fleeting Sorrows photography project
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The cover image perfectly describes the project due to its utilization of superimposition, with the original image within the frame overlayed by the poster of the film Blade Runner. Though the original image remains obscured, its presence can still be felt. This serves as a metaphor for my examination of my homeland, Slavonian region, wherein the intricacies and layers of its history prove difficult to fully articulate. The image serves as a prologue to my exploration of the dichotomy between Eastern European tradition and contemporary Western society, with Croatia serving as a quintessential example of a culture in transition.

© Matej Jurčević - Image from the Silent Fleeting Sorrows photography project
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Current emigration crisis from the region of Slavonia to countries such as Ireland and Germany left the region in a drastic population decline. Rather than effectively addressing the crisis, it became a political tool to gain votes in elections, undermining its impact on the region’s future and culture. During this project, I had conversations with my peers who have experienced the emigration crisis firsthand. Many of them expressed feelings of frustration and anger as they were leaving Croatia, due in part to the economic downturn in 2008 that made it difficult for them to secure a stable future in the country. Additionally, they felt constrained by the conservative atmosphere that persisted during the post-war years.

© Matej Jurčević - Image from the Silent Fleeting Sorrows photography project
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Catholicism plays a significant role in the culture and heritage of Slavonia. One aspect of Catholicism that has always fascinated me is its portrayal of good and evil as being strictly black and white, while in reality, things are often much grayer. This gap between the Catholic ideal and the complexities of real life led me to want to explore it further in my work. Through the use of Catholic symbolism, I aim to delve into the complex relationships between tradition and modernity, and the tension that exists between the desire to hold onto cultural heritage and the need to adapt to new environments and experiences. Catholicism, like any religion, can exist in a state of ambivalence, where it is both a source of comfort for believers, but also a source of conflict and confusion. By using Catholic imagery and themes, I hope to capture this ambivalence and provide a nuanced perspective on the role of Catholicism in domestic settings of the region.

© Matej Jurčević - Image from the Silent Fleeting Sorrows photography project
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The presence of largely American pop culture artifacts hanging in homes, gyms, and other private spaces can be seen as relics of an an unfulfilled promise of a “better tomorrow” and serve as reminders of cultural change and nostalgia. The role that nostalgia plays in shaping personal identity can be both uplifting and destructive. While indulging in memories of the past can be tempting, it can also be emotionally taxing. As I confront nostalgically-charged imagery, I find myself hesitant to fully embrace the emotions that it evokes. This is because I am aware of the potential negative impacts of nostalgia. It can lead to a longing for the past and a resistance to change, which can be detrimental to our well-being. Through my work, I aim to explore the complex relationship between pop culture, nostalgia, and mental health, and to shed light on how these factors can impact our sense of self and our ability to navigate the present and the future.