March 7 – April 8, 2018
Student Gallery, Ryerson Image Centre
Serbia’s history has been riddled with conflict, economic instability, and political tension. Despite the hardships facing much of the country, its people maintain a strong sense of national pride and have adapted to major shifts in lifestyle, economy, and infrastructure. Although agriculture was long considered the country’s economic mainstay, less than a quarter of the population is currently employed in farming, compared to over three-quarters in the late 1940s. Initially, opportunities in the industrial sector saw increasing numbers of people relocating from rural communities to the cities, seeking gainful employment and more modern lifestyles. However, recent economic and political issues have led to high unemployment rates across the country.
Labour is deeply connected to the traditional Serbian way of life, and is particularly evident in rural communities. Often sustained by only a handful of people, these communities are bound together by their love of the land, foregoing the conveniences of urban life and staying connected to rural and cultural traditions. They sow land, create and wear customary garments and dress, prepare foods based on decades-old recipes and methods, and stay as independent from urban life as they comfortably can. Despite their dedication, these communities risk disappearing as populations dwindle and residents age.
Connected to the country through my own Serbian heritage, my travels to the region have allowed me to visit the people living in these communities and hear their stories. These photographs provide a glimpse into the lives of those who continue to make these traditions relevant, capturing a point in time where the future of these rich and storied customs is uncertain.
– Petrija Dos Santos
Wednesday, March 7
Daily 2:30 PM
All events take place at the Ryerson Image Centre, unless otherwise noted