The essence of street photography: all the demons of Boogie

This is the case of Vladimir Milivojevich, better known as Boogie, a street photographer born in Belgrade in 1969 who moved to New York City in 1998.
In his early works he told the civil war that devastated his country in the 90s, determining his approach to photography and his love for the darkest and most grotesque subjects.
He has published numerous monographs, immortalizing the brutality of metropolitan realities around the world, from Moscow to Belgrade, from Kingston to Tbilisi, from Tokyo to Caracas.

In a video interview for Huck, Boogie summed up the essence of street photography:

-“Good shots are everywhere. You don’t really choose your projects. 
You don’t really find them. They find you. A Single good shot? Anyone can do that.  It’s completely different thing to tell a story”

His subjects are suburban people: gang members, addicted drug communities, skinheads, protesters and rebels. Boogie manages to capture them in all their expressive power, like demons that emerge from the most remote corners of cities. 
They are shots that seem to scream, even more than tell, those worlds hidden under the surface.

-”A Single good shot? Anyone can do that. 
It’s completely different thing to tell a story”-

But in his shots there is not only violence and rebellion.
There is a very strong sense of belonging that contrasts deeply with the isolation that these micro-communities experience, willingly or unwillingly. There is pride in showing the signs of recognition and their own tattoos. There is sometimes beauty, there is a sense of redemption: in a stolen hug between crumbling walls, on the sweaty bodies of young boxers in Thailand and their determined eyes, on those bodies marked by scars, in the bright colors of the clothes that stand out on those out-of-focus suburbs.

The narrative force – also present in commercial projects – is undoubtedly linked to Boogie’s ability to be accepted by those communities.
On the other hand, as we read in his biography: he lives in Brooklyn and all over the world.

Among his projects:

Kingston, Jamaica, 2011
“Craziest place I’ve ever been to.” 
Boogie has been to Kingston several times, calling it strange and terribly aggressive yet beautiful. He portrayed all its inhabitants, from ordinary people to gang members.

Skinheads – Belgrade, Serbia, 2003-2005 tells the dark side of the more conservative Serbia: groups of Skinheads, proudly showing their tattoos and praising the extreme right regimes and superiority of the white race.

In Belgrade Belongs to me, 2009, Boogie paints a portrait of his hometown, a chaotic and contradictory world.
It’s All Good, is Boogie’s first monograph, published in 2006 and reissued in 2016 (It’s All Good Anniversary). Through the shots of the Drugs and Gangs projects, Boogie tells the story of daily life in the hardest neighborhoods of NY, Bushwick, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Queensbridge, immortalizing the initiations of the gangs, the cult of weapons and violence, tattoos, the bodies marked by syringes, the lost eyes of drug addicts.

Moscow, 2019
It is the most recent publication of Boogie, from which emerge all the strength and brutality of a country that is found in the faces marked by wrinkles, in massive architecture, in the muscular bodies of boxers. “The first time I visited Moscow, I felt like I had found my tribe. A big, powerful, lost tribe

Text by: Francesca Lotti

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