Boogie The Photographer

“I started shooting B&W and the style stuck with me. There was a lot of madness, you know, with police and riots,” he says. The madness started when peaceful demonstrations against then-president Slobodan Milošević turned sour, and riot police began brutalizing protestors exasperated by a crumbling economy and a repressive regime. Belgrade’s spectacle of violence and poverty, of people living on the fringes of society, sharpened Boogie’s worldview as well as his photographic eye for the darker depths of human existence. Belgrade Belongs to Me, Boogie’s fifth published monograph, collects his starkest, most startling photographs of a city poisoned by police brutality, xenophobia and hunger.

In 1997, Boogie and his friends, after a night of drinking, decided to apply to the U.S. Diversity Immigrant Visa program. Better known as the Green Card Lottery, the program annually allots up to 50,000 permanent resident visas to inhabitants of countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. By happenstance, Boogie was the only one of his friends to be chosen; the next year, he moved to New York City, working various odd jobs before settling on a career in photography.

Happenstance and serendipity are recurring threads in Boogie’s life, and he takes what fortuitous events occur in his life in stride. Twenty years ago, his friends nicknamed him “Boogie” after the “boogieman” from an old film, and the moniker has since stuck with him. During his early years in New York, he encountered his first major project again by happenstance, a three-year undertaking which led him deep into the deep criminal underbelly of Brooklyn.

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