Mira Zdjelar is a Canadian freelance photographer born in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, presently living in Bucharest, Romania. She has also resided in Toronto, Ottawa, São Paulo, and Havana.
After losing her own childhood and youth photographs to the turbulence of the recent war in the Balkans and moving to Canada, she decided to start doing photography herself. Images cannot replace memory; all they can hope to do is capture glimpses of worlds seen and lives lived. The challenge for the photographer is to uncover and share visions of the less obvious, the seemingly invisible.
Mira’s ongoing project Urban Connections shows her fascination with cities and their structures, which appear similar, almost tangibly reminiscent, and different at the same time. Diversity enriches while showing invisible ties that bind cities, people, lives, and bring them closer to each other. Having lived in different countries enables Mira to look for those connections and bring them forward.
Mira’s passion also lies in photographing people, sometimes lost in the landscape, sometimes larger than their surroundings, but always an integral part of the shared human experience.
We are constantly told, from sources too diverse and numerous to ignore, that the world as we know it is disappearing. More and more land is turning into desert. Wild fires are taking over the land. Glaciers and lakes are melting and drying down. Sea levels are on the rise risking to erase costal cities. What will the future bring twenty or fifty years from now?
I was able to get a glimpse of some of these terrible things through personal experience. When the low lying single-storey Havana house where I was living flooded, I found myself helpless in the face of such adversity. Art became less important than finding a floating device for my child, salvaging the most precious possessions, and fleeing from the disaster scene. Seven people died in Havana that night as the result of the flood, and many others lost everything they had.
In the following days, however, as the water withdrew, photos thoroughly soaked in the muddy floodwater emerged profoundly changed. Spread around on the lawn to dry, on the same lawn that had been three feet under water only a few days earlier, my devastated photos became new images, retouched by the flood. I captured them again, photographing my own work that had now taken a different shape, and this is how this series came about, witnessing creation borne out of destruction. What these new images allude to is a constant and radical change of our environment. The surrounding frames of red, orange and blue on the photos appear ominously reminiscent of fire (heat) and water (flood), forces that are shrinking our world and taking it over.
Just as these images got miraculously retouched, I hope we have enough time and ingenuity left for the more miraculous retouch of our environment. We need to act quickly with all the courage and imagination we can muster. We need alternative sources of energy, and we need them fast. We need decent and clean public transportation networks all over the world. We need to come up with real solutions to show that burning fossil fuels is not the ultimate in human creativity. Only so could we still have a chance to give our children a decent future and avoid the frightening apocalyptic scenarios.
2006 Paisajes urbanos, Maqueta de la Habana, Havana, Cuba
2006 Ciudades menos obvias, Julio Larramendi Gallery, Havana, Cuba
2006 Conexiones urbanas, XI International Festival of Poetry and VII Fine Arts Salon, Havana, Cuba
2006 Images of Havana, Canadian Official Residence, Havana, Cuba
2005 Conexões urbanas, Suplicy Gallery, São Paulo, Brazil
SELECT GROUP EXHIBITIONS
2009 Realities Retouched, CONTACT Photography Festival, Leonardo Galleries, Toronto, ON
2007 Habitat, Centro Hispanoamericano de Cultura, Havana, Cuba
2006 Lo real… es maravilloso, IX International Fine Arts Biennale, Havana, Cuba
2005 Silent Auction, Grand Hyatt, São Paulo, Brazil
2004 Projeto Paulista, Senac, São Paulo, Brazil
2004 Silent Auction, Grand Hyatt, São Paulo, Brazil
2003 3rd Annual Photography Exhibit, Ryerson Gallery, Toronto, Canada
2003 Art Show 2003, Lester B. Pearson Building, Ottawa, Canada
2001 1st Annual Photography Exhibit, Ryerson Gallery, Toronto,
2006 Canadian Embassy grant for Ciudades menos obvias, solo exhibition with more than 60 photographs, Julio Larramendi Gallery, Havana, Cuba
SELECT PUBLICATIONS & CRITICAL REVIEWS
2007 Magazine Private, Issue 37: Ecological Question, Bologna, Italy
2006 Magazine Mujeres, Issue 287, Havana, Cuba