guido gazzilli – fisnik

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Guido Gazzilli


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I went to Kosovo long time after the end of the war.

My first stay in Kosovo goes up again to April 2009. The country was pronounced independent the year before. Still today, however, Serbia refuses to recognize this independence and continuoes to consider Kosovo as an autonomous province.

After my first visit, i went back there on February 2010. The images of the essays are partly from my first visit there, partly from my second trip.

At the very beginning, I thought that instead of putting the focus on the conflict, to  draw the attention to what people my age have been through. Some of them had to get weapons and fight, others cried for the loss of their relatives. Some were blinded by hate and went to fight a war. Others just left, hiding themselves from the conflict.

In my time in Kosovo I met a young man named Fisnik in the city of Mitrovica and together we traced back the memories of his infancy, his present, and I have  observed and photographed here  the present  that surrounds him. So this is in fact his story.

Most young people in Kosovo don’t have the fortune to decide between staying or going…Half the population is less than 25 years old: Kosovo is the youngest state in Europe. One of the main problems is getting a passport, as the procedure is very long and expensive and many of them consider the exile as the only chance they have. But whoever succeeds in getting it, becomes a free man.

Fisnik is one youth of Kosovo. He dreams to live his future somewhere else, hoping this is going to happen sooner or later.



Guido Gazzilli was born in 1983 in Rome where he currently lives and works. He graduated from IED of Rome in 2006 and started traveling through Europe, working on stories about subcultures and the independent music scene. He has been a freelance photographer since 2007 and has worked with several Italian magazines. During this time he has concentrated on documentary style stories focusing mainly on social issues.

His pictures have been published in many magazines and websites such as: Ventiquattro Magazine, Rolling Stone, Foto8, Vice International, Nero, Rodeo, Fantom Editions, Pig, Nylon, Private, Vision Youth (China).

He’s now working as an assistant for Paolo Pellegrin (Magnum Photos). In Italy he’s represented by 7min projects Agency.


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Guido Gazzilli


21 Responses to “guido gazzilli – fisnik”

  • Guido

    This is beautifully and sensitivly done. You’ve given me a very moving glimpse into this broken world, and into the life of this damaged but still hopeful young man.

  • “We live, but we do not feel the land beneath us, Ten steps away and our words cannot be heard.”- Osip Mandelstam


    beautiful, thoughtful, lyrical work which centers its imaginative excavation through not the mournful (though filled with pain) depiction of a life and place but through the difficult and heroic simplicity of a world imagined and re-imagined by a young man hoping to escape a place weighted by the graffiti of sorrow and death…..

    I wrote under Gopesa’s essay on Sarajevo that I (a personal belief) feel that those who attempt to speak of place (writers, photographers, musicians, filmmakers, etc), especially place that is haunted by such a large and collective recognition of suffering, that that person should attempt the unthinkable, an act of hubris really, which is to try to make that place, that story, that history their own. Antithetical to most journalistic ideas, but for me the best work always stems from that, from a deeply imaginative and often reimagined examination and relocation of place. In this case, for a photographer to imagine, if possible, how that place inhabits and haunts her, how she has thus become part of that place, to be so attuned to place and stories that the witnessing become not as witness but as story-teller, fully involved. The imaginative and dare-i-say, literary excavation, a poetic embodiment, of the story one is trying to tell….you couldn’t ask for a better mentor than Paolo to help you as well, as part of the power of his life’s work has been just that….

    and though i want MORE MORE pictures here, I have been taken on this journey….a journey that i prefer, especially with pics of places haunted already by our own preconceptions of them, in this case war-torn Kosovo….what i cherished about your story is that I began it with one idea (the story of war and survival and all the attendant imagery in my head) and ended up in a much different place….the life of Fisnik, this handsome and ghost-like struggling basketball player….and all those images…..that by the end, i realized, i had not at all knew what this story was about, so i had to re-watch it a few times…and that, to me as both a photographer/writer and as a lover of photographs, want always from a story:….

    what i also loved besides focusing on him and by extension people/friends/surrounds that either intersect or somehow connect to his life, is the what you photographed. The 4th photograph (of the chalkboard with his name) is just breathtaking (it’s graphic strength alone is worth the swoon) and reminded me of my beloved Cy Twombly…the double portraits of both Fisnik and his sister and I loved that you had the courage and brilliance to include a picture of yourself shot by him…(and a beautiful photo as well), because you become him and vice versa and it continues the story by allowing for his presence to inhabit the pictures in which he is not the subject and yet defines….that is the kind of thoughtful, creative imaginative photographic thinking that I find not only exciting but critical when it comes to reportage…..just as the shot of the statue of clinton surprised and taught me something i hadn’t even thought of….and god damn, that statue looks also like all the statues i’ve ever seen in e.europe, and an irony of a hole-torn nation….

    and, there isn’t one photo which isn’t powerful….you have a poetic eye for both place and metaphor and i congratulate you on this as well…

    my only lament is that i wanted even more pics, even more of his life and i will look forward to seeing you develop and follow him….because once i am caught by a photographer or story, i never weary and can look at hundreds….so bring them on….i’ll take a mountain of images to set back the land and my time…..

    congratulations and beautifully told and rendered :)))


  • i like how it ends with a flower blowing in the wind.
    a very well shot and put-together piece.

  • I especially like 03, 08, 22 and 24, the dog broke my heart (20), so sad.


  • Nice story and nice web site… congrats from ITA

  • Good story telling and photography, Guido, congratulations. I looked at your web site and prefer the longer version of this essay there. I also prefer the white background there as opposed to the black background here on Burn.

    Both your b&w and colour work share a common vision; which is good: a Guido signature.



  • Hope you fed the dog!


  • Guido congratulations for your publication in Burn.

    I always found the story of Kossovo a sad and deeply disturbing one. The “war” and “independence” as we know it in the west a very naive and self-serving distortion of reality and NATO’s devastating bombardments a shameful act. In your website, the story “See you at home after the war” hints at a terrible truth normally ignored.

    With the above in my mind I was initially suspicious of another orthodox dose of “neutrality”. Your essay though is balanced superbly, avoiding issues of ethnicity and victimization and instead focusing on a young man that represents the majority of the suffering civilians. And the last line of your statement, the one about the desire of young people to leave, resonates so much with the essay itself. It was three viewings until I could switch off completely and truly appreciate it and I’m happy I did.

    All the best for the future, congratulations once more.

  • Ricardo Vasconcelos

    I’m distressed, sad. This is a beautiful essay Guido! There is something that i still can not decipher.
    The pain, the look maybe. I see hope in the sequence in which the photographs are arranged.
    Beautiful. Even painful, but not heavy and unbearable.
    A beautiful piece of Eastern Europe documentary. Feels like to follow the life of Fisnik for a long time.
    Strong message in these 25 photographs. I personally, would like to see more about this subject.
    I hope this 25 are just Chapter I.
    Congratulations for this outstanding moment.

    Ricardo Vasconcelos, PT

  • Mike R, Bob,

    Yes, the longer version on Guido’s site is even better..and Bob, more.

  • Thumbs up!!!
    congratulations indeed!

  • Dear friends,
    i am very thankful for all the sweet comments about my project, all the best

  • Guido

    I’m not such a huge fan of this type of photojournalism, always prefer color and I’ve seen a lot of “Balkans” stuff lately…..netevertheless I found this piece touching and wanted to see some more. Like Bob Black said, I started in one place and ended in a different one (and I liked the journey) Congratulations.

    Bob Black

    I’ve been meaning to tell you this for a while. My vocabulary in English is somehow limited, so I can’t always follow (or even finish!!) your lengthy posts ;). Still, I really like your positive attitude and feedback towards all kinds of photography.

  • Wow. Lovely and haunting. And sensitive, yes. Great job, Guido. Congrats!

  • Absolutely excellent essay. I felt like I was looking at the work of one of the old masters, circa 1930-1960, not that of a young, punk, kid.

    Congratulations. I look forward to your future.

  • very nice, showing real life in real world with glance of a hope for better tomorrow

  • Dear Bob once again thank you for your lenght post i really appreciate it.
    Unfortunately the job for now i think that finish here because i’m not remained in good relationships with fisnik for various reasons.
    But I have intention to keep on working with some young people that are living in countries where has been a conflict.

    Thanks a lot for watching this essay I’m glad that you liked what you have seen.

    Hope all is well with you and please feel free to drop by anytime.

    Best Wishes,

  • Dear Bob  thank you once again for your post i really appreciate it.
    Unfortunately right now the job its finished  because i’m not longer in a good relationships with fisnik for various reasons.
    But I have intention to keep on working with some young people that are living in countries where has been a conflict.

    Thanks a lot for watching this essay I’m glad that you liked what you have seen.

    Hope all is well with you and please feel free to drop me a line anytime.
    Best wishes to you all.


  • Really like this essay. Evokes a haunting, empty, and lost feeling. The remnants of war.

    Congratulations and all the best,


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