A few years ago, wondering around the street of Belgrade’s old town, I came across a long existing workshop where bronze lamps and candle holders are hand made by a few artisans from existing material. Welcomed by the owner inside to share a cup of Turkish coffee, the whole experience felt like travelling back in time into a world of tradition and crafts rare to find nowadays and away from the impersonal experience offered by the modern consumerism.
The people portrayed below are part of the numerous artisans in Serbia that preserve traditional manufacturing processes and techniques working in small shops, in their houses or cellars. It is not uncommon to visit their workshop and feel like part of a museum-like environment.
Artisans were in the past organized in associations to promote the education of apprentices and future improvements of the trade, however the sector started to decline as industrial goods appeared. Today, they are gatekeepers of invaluable traditional skills and they represent, in my view, a world poised between traditions and a difficult present threatened by modernity, high-technology progress and socio-economic changes. For some, the legacy might continue as the business is passed down. For those who will cease to exists, I know there will not be replacement for the loss of heritage and expertise.
(Ongoing project started in 2014)