memory. culture. art.
Alen Hebilović

The photographer Alen Hebilović was born in 1973 in Bosnia-Herzegovina and came to Germany as a war refugee in 1993. Between 1996 and 2003 he studied photography at the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst (HGB) in Leipzig. In 2005 Alen Hebilović joined the artists’ initiative SYNTHETIC FORCES. In 2006 he was awarded a one year working grant by the Berlin Senate Department for Science, Research and Culture. Alen Hebilović lives and works in Berlin. His photographs were shown in numerous exhibitions among others “The Random Files” (2008), “Synthetic Forces (S-For)” (2007) and “Out of Bosnia” (2005).
Alen Hebilović arranges a selection of old and new photographs which show the consequences as well as the personal memory of the war in Yugoslavia in 1992. He creates a collection which combines pictures taken in the scope of old photo series with current photographs. In doing so the photographer manages to create a photo series that deals with the memory of the war experience, flight and expulsion in former Yugoslavia. In his pictures Hebilović combines the realities of the post war period with those of refugees from former Yugoslavia currently living in Germany. Situations and protagonists are shown in a moment of transition which becomes visible thanks to the combination of different motives and formats. Into this newly formed story line, Hebilović inserts several self-portraits which add a clearly autobiographic element.

Alen Hebilović states on his personal approach:
The selection of the motives is closely related to my own personal biography. My pictures document the time from the beginning of the war in 1992 until today, and encompass my exodus from Bosnia as well as the different paths which I have gone down as a refugee of war. Our house in Prijedor was destroyed in 1992. For a short period of time my family and I were able to find accommodation at the house of my brother-in-law. However, in the course of the “ethnic cleansing” we were taken to Trnopolje following a raid on our house. Alongside Omarska, Ljubija, and Keraterm, Trnopolje was one of the four most well-known detention camps in Bosnia. I spent two and a half months there. At that time, the Red Cross was already trying to make people aware of the refugees´ suffering. There were also representatives of the United Nations who visited the detention camp. Unfortunately, they never stayed over night. Then, at the beginning of 1992, we managed to flee to Croatia in a Red Cross convoy. Following a failed attempt to leave the country with the help of a people smuggler – in which both me and my family lost all of our belongings – I started to save money for my departure by temporarily working at a Croatian construction site.
Following my arrival in Germany, I spent my first month in a refugee camp in the town of Brandenburg an der Havel. My first series of pictures on refugees of war developed out of that experience. Shortly thereafter I conducted my project “Duldung” (Toleration) in the context of which I photographically accompanied several Roma families with temporary stay permits over a certain period of time...
I can now decide very freely in terms of the combination and the arrangement of the different pictures. Personally, I think it is very interesting to observe what happens in the process of combination. I select individual images from my series which I then mix with other pieces form other series. Each of my pictures can be seen as an individual photo. Combining them with other pictures permits me to place them into a new context. This at first rather intuitive decisions eventually become conscious ones, and a narrative structure develops which adds completely new aspects to older works. Upon closer inspection, out of the presentation of two pictures a third one is born, and the thematic focus becomes much denser.

(Text collage from a conversation between Alen Hebilović and Lilith Bahlmann in the context of the exhibition “Out of Bosnia”, 2005)