BG BOOM: Dusan Reljin Opening Night
Udri brigu na veslje, is a Serbian expression that translates to “throw your tears into happiness,” a sentiment that inspired Dusan Reljin to put his blood, sweat and tears into his latest project, BG BOOM: Dusan Reljin.
During last night’s exhibit opening at Milk Gallery, a crowd filled with photographers, artists, models and musicians gathered to celebrate the famed fashion photographer’s deeply personal project. The striking images fuse together two very different elements of Dusan’s life — Serbia, the land where he grew up, and New York’s fashion world, which turned out in full force to the event.
NATO’s bombing of the Serbian capital, Belgrade, in 1999 left much of the city decimated, wreckage that still remained when Dusan traveled there in 2010. Many of the sites that he photographed have been maintained as memorials in remembrance of the lives lost, an effort compounded by Dusan’s work. “I hope that it will remind people what happened, and help them realize that there are a lot of different types of people out there with different backgrounds,” he said. “That’s what makes the world interesting.”
The photographs are eye-catching with their vibrant hues and surreal collages uniting seemingly dissimilar subjects. But it is after spending a few moments with the images that you truly begin to feel the weight and emotion behind them. In BOOM 15, Eva Herzigova appears as if she is a figurehead proudly displayed on a ship’s prow, while in reality the Czech supermodel is leaning against the charred remains of a former home. It is that juxtaposition of darkness and sublime beauty that brings these photos to life, and tells Dusan’s story.
As partygoers explored the exhibit, the gallery was filled with music from the photographer’s homeland, including Yugoslavian New Wave bands of the ‘80s such as Disciplina Kicme and Ekaterina Velika; traditional folk music from the region; and several tunes from Iskre, a ‘60s rock band that Dusan’s father played drums in. As Dusan stood surrounded by family and friends in front of BOOM 18, which features a musician he’d hired on the streets of Belgrade, it was clear he had achieved what he’d set out to do — bring his two worlds together, and find happiness despite the tragedy.
Photography by Masha Maltsava