Skip to product information
1 of 5

Silent Witness

Silent Witness

by Cornelia Suhan

Regular price $55.00
Regular price Sale price $55.00
Sale Sold out
Tax included for domestic orders. Customs duty and import tax may apply to international orders.

Pre-order. Expected March 2024.

‘A war is not over when the weapons are silent.’  - Cornelia Suhan

In Silent Witness photographs of private houses and public buildings in which war crimes—specifically rapes of women of all ethnic groups living in Bosnia and Herzegovina—were committed during the Bosnian War (1992-1995) are combined with testimonies from the women who survived. Cornelia Suhan’s photographs of these buildings— the silent witnesses—allow the stories to be told without exposing those affected to the public again.

More about this book

In August 1993 Cornelia Suhan went to Bosnia for the first time to help establish a therapy centre in Tuzla for women who had been raped. She was to return every year—missing only the year of the birth of her daughter—and in 2018 she began to take photographs.

‘I kept driving past buildings where the crimes had been committed during my stays in Bosnia. They are scattered all over the national territory somewhere completely innocuous on a country road, on a village street, on the grounds of a factory, the grounds of an agricultural cooperative, in a residential area in the city or on school grounds….Abandoned, these buildings lay there; nothing indicated the crimes committed there anymore, dead walls of houses stared at me.’

Suhan began researching the sites more systematically from 2019 onwards in order to document war crimes in different regions throughout the national territory. Nowhere did she discover plaques on the buildings commemorating the crimes or paying tribute to the survivors nor the women murdered in the context of war rape.

‘All this stayed with me, because for me the buildings seemed to maintain a connection to the former events of the war like silent witnesses, whether renovated, abandoned, reoccupied or revived in their original function. I noticed how some houses still stood abandoned after the war; to me they seemed like the ‘untouchables,’ while in others all traces had been removed.’

The book includes nearly 90 images showing some of the buildings where the crimes were committed—from schools and sports halls, to hospitals and police headquarters, garages, apartment buildings, hotels and spas, mills, factories, canteens, bus stations, army headquarters, prisons, museums and mosques. The building are visible, but not what happened within. Suhan’s documentation of the buildings enables a factual presentation and conveys information and evidence to both begin to perceive and attempt to understand the enormity and scale of the crimes against women during this period.

‘The buildings and places represented in the photographs are an occasion for a process of remembrance and commemoration. They speak to us in a different way than the women (can) do themselves. They—these places, these houses—as ‘talking objects’ impose on us images that are difficult to bear and that shake up our usual perception. They enable insights into (experience) spaces that we ‘normally’ isolate well in everyday life and manage with shame, silence or concealment. If the event is witnessed and brought up, we challenge its tabooing’  - Verena Bruchhagen

 

Published March 2024
220 x 268mm protrait
104 pages
Hardback
ISBN 978-1-915423-21-4

A donation of 20% of proceeds from sales or pre-orders of the book purchased directly from gostbooks.com will be donated to Vive Žene (https://www.vive-zene.de/)

View full details
  • Cornelia Suhan was born in Duisburg, Germany in 1956. She studied Photo Design with a focus on Photojournalism at FH—Dortmund between 1976-1981, and went on to study for a Masters at the San Francisco Art Institute in the US. From 1985 -1987 she studied sociology in Bielefeld, Germany. Suhan has worked as an architectural photographer since 1985. Her photographic work also focuses on women, refugees, social justice and political oppression. To highlight unreported issues she has travelled to Palestine (1987), Mexico (1988), Turkey (1989), Romania (1990), Bosnia and Herzegovina (1993-2024), Iraq (2004), Democratic Republic of Congo (2008) and Kosovo (2009). The resulting work has been widely exhibited and published in outlets including Der Spiegel, TAZ, Die Zeit, Zeitmagazin, FAZ and Geo amongst others. Alongside her photography work, Suhan is the Co-Founder of therapy centres for traumatised women and children in Tuzla, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Dortmund, Germany.


  • - Cornelia Suhan