From skinheads in his home city of Belgrade to gun gangs in Brooklyn, Vladimir Milivojevich – aka Boogie – immerses himself in treacherous subcultures to capture life on the fringes. But there’s more to the Serbian street photographer than the camera that hangs so comfortably around his neck.
As he drifts through the alleyways of London taking stills of the mundane (“I shoot whatever the hell I feel like”), recounting his underprivileged past (“that was a blessing”), digging through record crates at Brick Lane’s Rough Trade, (“I don’t even know what I’m looking for”) and verbalising the trajectory of his story, Huck collects his cult influences along the way, turning the fly-on-the-wall documentarian into the subject in focus.
To sit alongside the rolls and rolls of exposed film he’s been producing daily since the ’90s (a time when he witnessed the grassroots effects of the extreme anti-Islamic nationalism gripping Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia), Boogie is a natural collector of ‘things’ like old LPs. He picked up these two on Berwick Street, where musical treasures, like “some jazz from the former Yugoslavia – 1970s and 1980s,” hide in unkempt record stores.
Boogie floored us with admiration for all people. On Mike Tyson, he says: “He was a beast. Fucking insane.” Ironically, he chewed our ear off a little longer on the topic. “He was nineteen or twenty when he became heavyweight world champion. He was straight from the ghetto and all of a sudden he was a millionaire. He didn’t know how to handle it,” exclaims Boogie – drawing parallels to his own stroke of luck, when he was airlifted from his old volatile life in Belgrade to the ‘land of opportunity’ thanks to the United States’ Green Card Lottery. This is his favourite Tyson knockout.
Boogie is a big fan of karate legend Masutatsu Oyama and a committed martial artist and boxer himself. So it’s only natural that he went to Southeast Asia and immersed himself in a sport that merges the two – Thai Boxing. He spent two months in Bangkok training and documenting it all on his blog. At the time he wrote, “If you think you’re in good shape, you should come to Thailand during the rainy season for a reality check. At first I thought I was gonna die, but it’s getting better …”
He may have named American jazz legend Miles Davis as one of his influences, but Boogie’s blog betrays his relationship with punk. He’s a big fan of classic music doc Another State of Mind from 1982. The film follows Social Distortion and Youth Brigade on a bitter-sweet tour that comes to a tragic end.
Cheryl Dunn’s film Everybody Street documents NYC’s iconic street photographers and their stylised memoirs of the city. Listing Boogie among road-treading greats like Jill Freedman and Bruce Gilden, the director told Huck what compelled her to feature Boogie: “He went from a civil society to a completely war-ravaged society, so going to the projects in Brooklyn was pfft, no big deal… What he created was really such a reflection of his fearlessness.”
Read the full story in HUCK 043 – Street Photography with Boogie.