As collectors of discarded goods for over 20 years, the members of the Salihović family are often seen as outcasts in their hometown of Bijeljina, Bosnia and Herzegovina. But this family of seven approaches their daily routine like any other family: they wake up early, plan their day, and organize themselves in preparation to perform their usual tasks.
“I am a documentary photographer. I find inspiration in the unknown and the feeling of possibility that is created within it and have an interest in photo stories in the form of series and long-term projects, a reality photography that examines social values”. – Mitar Simikić, winner 2022 VID Grant.
This ongoing project entitled simply Mila started in 2014. Of the family’s five children (four daughters and a son), only Mila (real name Samila), regularly attends school. Just 11 years old when this project began, Mila has proven to be a brilliant problem solver. With her whole life ahead of her, it is uncertain how her story will unfold, but the project will continue to document her journey up until her 18th birthday.
“My photographs express emotions and perceive people, the environment and situations in a personal way. I manage to work spontaneously and intuitively – adapting to changes in light, atmosphere and circumstances; animated by unplanned, temporary encounters with people and places in their state at that very moment”. – Mitar Simikić, winner 2022 VID Grant.
The Salihović family is a Muslim family with origin from Bijeljina. Their case, without a doubt, goes to show a problem that the world is sliding into with too much inertia: While this great world thrives, making every idea that comes to mind possible, the needs of ordinary people seems to be forgotten. Their story is always overlooked and, in the meantime, they continue their lives the only way they know how.
“My goal is to create a space in which the audience can feel empathy for my subjects and get involved in my stories. A couple of seemingly contradictory motives are at the heart of my practice: a desire for order and simplicity and a fascination with the small details in my subjects”. – Mitar Simikić, winner 2022 VID Grant.
Relaying the story of a young woman is not new in visual storytelling. However, Mitar’s images show him as the silent person in the room. It is clear he has a very intimate relationship with the family as he has been following them for a longer time. This is a very coherent story of a family which is seen as the outsider within the community of Bijeljina.
“One can say that I am often entirely preoccupied with the stories I record. This obsession with detail is sometimes embedded in my photographs that reflect the complexity of my surroundings. In other cases, I distil the extremes of visual and sensory information into bare, graphically accurate images”. – Mitar Simikić, winner 2022 VID Grant.
“Getting recognition from the VID Foundation will not only help me to develop the next phase of this work, but will also help to penetrate deeper into Salihović family and Mila’s identity through a visual tool and create a unique photographic work which breaks the boundaries in documentary photography”. – Mitar Simikić, winner 2022 VID Grant.