Sanja Jugovic Burns – Fugue

Sanja Jugovic Burns



In 1980, Josip Broz Tito died. Yugoslavia followed him a decade later. My family emigrated to Australia in 1985, before the war (so this project is not about the war). I have no recollection of the plane journey there. I found Australia unwelcoming, but lived in comfort that one day, when sufficiently adult, I would be able to return home.

My first journey back to Yugoslavia was as a “foreigner” and a tourist, but not a stranger. It was summer of 1990. I witnessed a country preparing to slide violently towards its death and still denied this ever being a possibility. For a long time after, and elsewhere, I did not have a reason to bother recalling the country of my birth. Then my mother passed away. My very entry into this world disappeared and I needed to relearn the world, relearn that I was from nowhere.The idea that we are from some place has an irresistible magnetism, but what happens when that place is gone? One realises all we are is a collection of fragmented images. I return to my home town frequently to look for traces of life I have left behind, but all I find is an unceremonious blur playing out in a parallel universe. The life I have had is forever gone. I languish in nostalgia. The more nostalgic I become, the less I remember. All I have is my fragments.



To relay the complexity of this process of personal reconstruction, I attempt avoiding uniformity by using different film and camera formats, and images from family archives. There are no constraints and rules around locations and backdrops for this project. My aim is to manipulate senses and evoke an emotional response, not to document a place or an event. My approach is informed by the Balinese concept of Sekala (the seen) and Niskala (the unseen, the occult), where that which is unseen but sensed is attributed equal importance and it must be respected.




Short Bio

Sanja Jugovic Burns (b. 1970, Sisak, Croatia) is an emerging photographer currently based in Bali. She is a researcher specializing in cultural understanding and sensory perception. She is an Australian citizen and has also spent 14 years living in and working from Singapore.

“My interest in photography was awakened in my father’s makeshift darkroom in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Interestingly, my most vivid memory of this time is not the pictures but the smell of the chemicals. These chemicals were akin to magic potions making something of nothing; or unveiling the hidden (as well as Antun’s overexposed photographs).”




The Emerging Photographer Fund is supported by generous donors to the Magnum Foundation

Magnum Foundation

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