Sarajevo "LIFƎ" magazin

Year of Production
Location of Production
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Original Format
Magazine (text / photos) – special edition
Original Language
The Siege of Sarajevo 1992 - 1996: Anthropological – Cultural – Sociological study of personal mental experience of Survival.
Research Period
1992 - 1995
Inspired by LIFƎ Magazine, the project used the LIFƎ 's original concept and design as its framework. The Sarajevo LIFƎ was published as a special one-off edition which recorded and portrayed personal survival experience of 87 individuals (artists, academics, social scientist, actors, intellectuals and journalists answered the questionnaire about life under siege). Original LIFƎ format was adapted to fit new realities and packaged as an anthropological, cultural and sociological study of the siege phenomenon. It includes special sections on Cultural Survival: fashion, theatre, survival art museum and a 'manga-style' comic-book.
Bosnian version of the Sarajevo LIFƎ Magazine was not published as a separate edition, but it was translated and adapted for Encyclopaedia: The Siege of Sarajevo 1992-1996.


Suada Kapic
Maja Razovic
Associate Editors
Nihad Kresevljakovic and Aleksandra Majhrovski
Lejla Pasović and Lejla Hasanbegovic
Milomir Kovacevic
Studio Dogan
Emir Kasumagic
Nedzad Imamovic
Mirsada Bjelak
Printed in
Zagreb, Croatia
© FAMA International


Because of their influence, those who watch, observe, analyse and explain meaning to the masses are considered a kind of elite; however if this elite use faulty methodology or have impure intentions, it can lead to disastrous consequences. We, the founders of FAMA, the first independent multi-media company in the former Yugoslavia, were fully aware of the sensitivity of the area in which we chose to invest. From the very beginning of the disintegration of Yugoslavia, we knew that documentation, of all types and forms, would play a vital role in the fate of current and future generations. In keeping with our own personal principles, our methods rely on fact, oral history and recorded documentation (documented documents). It is through our unique insight and gift of foresight that we have been able to develop a step by step methodology that 'makes the obvious visible'.

Gaining insight. This involves watching events attentively with an open mind as an observer rather than a participant, in order to note significant elements of the observed phenomenon; then putting these elements together to identify early signs of any emerging dominant trends that might launch a new process of cause and effect.

Continuing research through oral history. Those who participated in an observed event talk about their own experience of it, without commenting on other participants. These elements are recorded in photo/video format.

Structuring the research. Putting first hand facts and documented documents of a particular event, period or phenomenon into a structure that transfers this knowledge in a form acceptable to an audience, devoid of any indicators that would point to a conclusion. Readers, viewers, students, researchers draw their own conclusions on the basis of the given format.

Converting the structure. This phase involves producing a format suitable for mass production (maps, albums, films, encyclopedias).

Creating a study pack. We have created an educational pack consisting of different sections that can be used for different levels of education, as our unique contribution to the interpretation of the period 1991-1999.

Sarajevo "LIFƎ" magazin

Not only have we lived under the siege, but we also attentively observed the end of an urban civilization (which Sarajevo in fact was in the late 20th century) and the establishment of a new one which had some similarities to science fiction movies and a modern documentary television series Life After People. Nothing can match the experience of observing the way people manage to be creative with extremely limited resources, while being exposed to continuous terror, and reduced to moving targets. We wanted to ask them questions about hope, faith, humor, life after death, mental inventions for survival, and to save their answers forever, knowing even then that their experience was valuable for the whole world.

We wanted to learn more about opportunities the human nature and mind present when operating freely despite a completely closed position. From our former life, we knew of the US magazine LIFE, which in the twentieth century had taken the world by storm, discovering to its readers the hidden and distant things they knew nothing about. A statement by its founder and owner, Henry Luce, motivated us to rebrand one of its editions (of 1936), placing it in the midst of the siege of Sarajevo. Today, this is an anthropological document about an impossible period of time and the human struggle to win over such a situation instead of becoming its victims.

About the project

This anthropological study in the form of surveys is a redesign of the US magazine LIFE (famous for its research and documention of the new, the unknown and, above all, the sociologically important). The study was created in 1995, during the siege of Sarajevo. Intellectuals and artists in the city under siege answered the eternal questions of good and evil, hope and death, love and survival during hard times. Their answers present the hope for humanity and a special study of mental health of individuals exposed to many years of terror.

"Despite many years of terror in the besieged city, about 300,000 Sarajevo citizens remained in the city trying to survive the impossible circumstances hitherto unknown to human experience. All of them are sentenced to death, the reason for their punishment is forgotten, the hour and day of their execution is unknown. The world watches daily reports from the besieged city and, thanks to the global television network, the city has become a part of their reality, but people who live in seem unreal to the outside world. Running under sniper fire, running away from grenades in a battle for life, living under the siege and suffering the most sophisticated kinds of terror, Sarajevans went through a completely new experience drewing positive lessons from the depths of hell: a man can survive a cataclysm and still remain human. The work proved to be the law of survival. Every person featured in the magazine remained in the besieged city the same way the remaining 300,000 people did. Some of them occasionally went on short trips to the outside world, calmly returning to the city under siege, and continuing to work. They became a new kind of world travellers: stayed the same wherever they went, be it the most civilized places in Tokyo, New York, Paris, Mexico City, or be it in Sarajevo – where civilization had disappeared, but a new one was established. They performed plays, made sculptures, played music, danced, composed, acted and directed theater plays, wrote and published books – celebrating life. Because life is where death occurs." (Editorial of Sarajevo LIFƎ magazine published in August 1995).

Later on, all these factors demostrated our chosen method as the key for documenting events if they are to serve as a valuable contribution to interpretation and learning about the 1991-1999 period in the former Yugoslavia. Besides its educational role, the project has also proved as a significant contribution to the processes of truth and reconciliation, as well as to the democratization process of our post-war society.