Human Rights Festival VIVISECT, organized by the Regional Women Initiative “Vojvođanka” from 13 to 19 December 2004, in Novi Sad, Serbia and Montenegro, featured the “Voices of the Missing” exhibition presented by the International Commission of Missing Persons (ICMP).”War conflicts in the area of former Yugoslavia – a view from the inside and outside,” was title of the first part of the festival, in which regional and international artists presented the films and photo exhibitions. The goal of the festival was to initiate a public discussion about the war in the former Yugoslavia, to point out the necessity of knowing facts regarding the war conflict, to present truth as a mosaic of different elements, which when combined give a more clear perspective on the recent past.
The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) first organized the “Voices of the Missing” exhibition at the National Gallery of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo, in February and March 2002. It was also shown at the Memling Museum in Bruges, Belgium, in September 2003, and at the Rupe Ethnographic Museum, in Dubrovnik, Croatia, in May 2004.
Bosnian photographer Haris Memija spent three months with the families of missing persons, wanting to portray them and their stories the way media never does. The family members have shared with him their personal stories, hoping that the situation for all families of the missing will be better in the future.
Exhibition “Voices of the missing” gave visitors an opportunity to face the past and find out the destinies of the missing, and hear the life stories of those who lost their loved ones during the war.
“We deal so often in large numbers – how many thousands are missing, how many we have helped to identify – in such a large scale that it is hard to convey the personal agony of the missing persons issue,” said Doune Porter, ICMP Head of Communications. “The exhibition ‘Voices of the Missing’, which ICMP is honoured to have been invited to show at VIVISECT, takes us into the lives of family members of ten missing persons, giving us a glimpse of the anguish behind every missing persons statistic.”
The visitors had a chance to see exhibitions of the documentary photographs from other authors as well, participate in the panel discussions on human rights topics, and see the films and works of other authors who promote human rights.
The organiser’s intention was to provide the visitors with a possibility to see the works of regional and international artists at the same place, and therefore give an opportunity for achieving the consensus on relevant facts regarding the recent war conflicts and war crimes.