We’ve visited several countries in the Balkans and in each one there has been a prevalent visual throughout – public notices of the deceased.
These white squares of paper can be spotted everywhere, they are plastered all over bus stops, poles, signs, stop lights, power lines, sides of buildings, trees, homes and community bulletin boards. They are commonplace in cities and towns but are also found in remote corners of the countryside – on a roadside shelter, a tree, or the side of a crumbling building.
I have found this aspect of traveling throughout this region endlessly fascinating. These bereavement notices make it impossible to ignore or hide from death. Death is woven into everyday activity – it’s in the park, in the neighborhood, outside of cafes, on the bus. But also, they illustrate how religion continues to define the people who live (and die) here; the black-edged notices are for those who were Orthodox and green-edged notices are for those who were Muslim.
There’s an old saying that goes something like:“I haven’t seen Milos lately; not even on the olive tree…”