It seemed like a simple question: How old are you?
But when Matteo Bastianelli asked people he met in Bosnia and Herzegovina, he could hear the pain in their answers.
“They start to say, ‘I was 15 when the Bosnian war started,’ ” said Mr. Bastianelli, an Italian photographer. “It’s like people are locked in the past.”
Mr. Bastianelli moved to Sarajevo, the capital, in 2009, drawn to stories he had heard on previous visits. He spent the next four years working on “The Bosnian Identity,” a dark project that explores the hidden emotional wounds left by the 1992-95 war that changed the country. He sought to ask what it meant to move on after enduring such ravaging violence.
See more of Matteo Bastianelli’s “Bosnian Identity” project on The New York Times Lens blog.
Caption: Adis Smajic’s false arm; he lost his arm when he stepped on a mine while playing soccer with friends. His father and grandfather were killed in the Bosnian war. Sarajevo, 2010. (Photo by Matteo Bastianelli)