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Generation Sipa : –Peter Northall

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I had never been to Dubrovnik, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, before the fall of 1991. For days and days, the city and its ramparts were under siege by the Yugoslav People’s Army and paramilitary forces. Bombs were falling all over the region. Very few photographers managed to enter to the city. The slightest movement was dangerous, and because there were no cars, the city could only be accessed on foot. Running water was cut and we were forced to develop our film in mineral water. I remember going to bathe in the ocean, which meant exposing myself to Serbian snipers. Finding a telephone was a challenge, and at the Hotel Argentina where I was staying, getting a line was a miracle. In the end, only the telephone in the town hall still worked and you had to make your case in order to use it. That’s where this picture was taken. On that day, attacks intensified to the point where we couldn’t even leave the hotel, and with another photographer from Gamma, we watched this terrible spectacle unfold from our balcony. We were strangely fascinated by the visual power of the scene. But isn’t it also the photojournalist’s job to locate the beauty amid the horror?

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