Renowned serbian photographers: Dušan Mitić Car

When the Nišava River froze this winter and the people of Niš began to discuss at a loss when such a thing had happened for the last time, somebody came to the idea to call Car. His photographs cleared up the dilemma – he had taken photos of the Nišava with the ice floes 30 years before. He also took photos of the Nišava soaking in the sunshine, of the Fortress on its bank, the people, the events… Dušan Mitić Car (his full name and surname) is said to be a chronicler of Niš and his archive could be envied by many.

Dušan Mitić Car is a legend of Niš photography, which he would only brush off. His colleagues acknowledge him – thus, when invited to take photos of Niš, one photographer said with surprise “they’re calling me, and they have Car?!The text in the Niš’s Citizen published on the occasion of the exhibition at the Nišville Jazz Festivale 2015 also speaks about this excellent artist, his work and special lifestyle.

“The ‘Car’s Cut – Nišville, the First 20 Years’ exhibition of Dušan Mitić Car’s photographs is opened under the open sky… as it deserves, because Car’s photos have for many decades captured Niš under the open sky. I didn’t even expect, either, that he would be making statements, and just before the opening, he only brushed off, saying: ‘You just start.’ because he had already been having a deep conversation with his friend Perica Donkov. He who knows him knows that he won’t be standing by Dalibor Popović Pop and writer Goran Stanković, who opened the exhibition. Anybody else would do differently, all but not the man whose creativity lies in his simplicity and unobtrusiveness. Pop wrote a poem for him, and Goran was speaking about the impressions in his photos, where drops of the sweat of a musician, the stout-heartedness of the artists while on the stage… can be seen. That’s why they call him Car (Tzar)”, Marko Smiljković

We don’t take photos with our cameras, but with our hearts and minds, said Arnold Newman. A photograph is a captured moment, emotion, communication… While watching Car’s photographs, the messages for some future generations, you can understand that he wasn’t recording them, but rather captured them with his camera.

I met him at a photo-colony in Djavolja varoš (Devil’s Town) and on Radan Mountain for the first time, not in Niš, as one would expect. He introduced himself simply and quietly – Car. I don’t know who the person who gave him that nickname is; but, when Niš people give someone a nickname, that’s undoubtedly suitable for that person. Car has a style of his own – in dressing, in his always seemingly a little bit sullen attitude and sensibility that becomes visible in one frame, in the way he enjoys spending time with his friends, in his cult drinking of espresso… He’s uninterested in his own promotion, but is still a professional. Whenever I needed a photo – of Niš and its surroundings, or of some quite different other thing – I knew I could count on him. He would be searching thoroughly through his archive to find the photos for me.

Tell us something about yourself…

I was born in 1953. I don’t take photos of wedding ceremonies and send-offs. I prefer life/magnum photographs; I like black-and-white, but (hardly) stand color photos. Politically, I’m uncommitted. I drink brandy without water and wine without soda. Is this enough!?

You agree with photographer Roberto Capo that only the published photo is the finished photo?

Yes, correct. And I’ve got no record of the published photos and exhibitions. That’s why I keep all the negatives I’ve ever shot. I’ve presented my photos a lot in calendars, postcards, in Baedekers and catalogues, etc., and I’ve also worked for different well-circulated newspapers.
I published, and against my own free will (laughs), a black and white book of Rock photographs, The Book on the Rhythm in 1991, then an excessively luxury photo-monograph, Niš – A City on Dreams in 1995, published by Narodne novine and the Assembly of the City, which was quickly sold out and distributed. Then, there’s a bibliophilic book, The Book on Misery in 2001, in 51 copies. In Miodrag Raičević’s awarded book of poems, The Palm & A Shovel, my street/life photographs are presented. Last year, the Car’s Cut – A Takeaway Exhibition photo-monograph of Nišville was published, and so on.

 You’ve also richly illustrated the book on culinary recipes, At a Serbian Writer’s Home, Kitchen Works by Miodrag Raičević?

As is actually proper and appropriate, I gave that book, which is an anthology, a visual touch. Apart from the recipes and photos of food (corn bread, pies, sour-cabbage rolls, broths, fishes, barbecue, tripe…), there are also the stories about market places and Serbian people’s customs and life.”

Dušan Mitić Car doesn’t speak a lot about himself. He was at a loss when I told him that we wanted to interview him; he proposed some other colleagues instead, hesitated (thinking that we would abandon the idea). Sometimes, you become familiar with people by becoming familiar with their photos… and their friends. “The best photos are those taken exactly when you expect it the least, as actually is with all the essential things in life” – the last “king” of Niš would say.

By Rozana Sazdić