Sometime last year, we received a copy of a photography zine from a collective called ‘Abuze’. No writing, no credits, no locations, just page after page of empty train carriages, tunnels, impressive landscapes and balaclava-clad figures. (Plus an email address scrawled on a piece of paper). The anonymity of the zine is partly down to the fact that the photographers are graffiti artists and regular trespassers, blessed with the occasional raid from the transport police and deportation certificate. They also choose to hide their identity because they aren’t looking to be complimented.
For the new zine, one of the two – Smart Bastard, as I have been instructed to call him – has branched out on his own, and taken his shenanigans abroad, to Belgrade, or ‘Beograd’ as is the Serbian spelling. In our email exchange he repeatedly complains about information overload. ‘The constant updating of worthless news websites doesn't give us time to think about what we have read, it is not allowed to sink in. This is why the zine has minimal writing in it, only what I feel is essential is included.”
So what do we know? Well, we know Smart Bastard made a friend named Zuki and spent an unknown period of time ducking and diving with him across the Serbian capital. We also know they got shafted off a club on a boat once for smoking a joint. We also know why he chose to visit Belgrade: “The reason Beograd struck such a chord with me is because it is so close to Europe yet definitely not European. They still need visas to come to the UK! There's still visible evidence from the civil war in the 90s…everyone over 30 has seen, without doubt, some horrific sights. A man I met on the train told me, "you've seen one dead body? So what."
But that’s about as personal as it gets. “The photos are what they are…you know someone took them and where they were taken. Let the zine exist and see what people think.” Beograd has a print run of 200 copies. We own one of them. You can purchase the other 199 here.
Follow Fiona Cook on Twitter here: @FionaWCook
Follow Fiona Cook on Twitter here @fionawcook