There’s a name in Zagreb for the kind of people who’s personality and work are an essential part of a feeling you have towards a place (be it a club, neighborhood, festival, city). People who’s presence, or lack of one, is felt by all those that frequent that place, who are not necessary in charge or work there or have any stakes in them, but who embody the ideas behind it. They are called the good spirits.
Marija Braut was one of those people for Zagreb. Her watchful eyes were the eyes of Zagreb looking onto itself, her photography a document of half a century of this city’s history. On any given day you could see a scrappy lady with long white hair and deep blue eyes, in blue jeans and a simple blouse, cigarette in her mouth, as she walked the streets of Zagreb waiting to capture those everyday moments most didn’t even notice, and turn them into something more, into art.
Her style was an inspiration to generations of artists, her work to generations of locals, her persona to generations of feminists. She wasn’t one though, not on purpose, she just lived her life outside of constrains of proper, infiltrated all kinds of boys’ cultural clubs in the sixties, divorcing her husband for cheating, quitting architecture to pursue her love of photography at 38 years of age…she even outdrank Richard Burton under the table one time, a feat not many could do.
Marija Braut has had over a hundred solo exhibitions under her belt, with her last one set up when she was 86 years old, called Unknown Zagreb. A local journalist started to cry at the opening of that exhibition, when he noticed his young mother strolling by a construction site of Mamutica, Zagreb’s largest building, with him in the baby cart. That’s what she gave to Zagreb, and that is why she is called the good spirit.
The reason we are writing this is that this week marks the one year anniversary of Marija Braut’s passing, and her friends will set up her first exhibition in Zagreb after her passing at Saturday, July 8th. It’s not going to be in a museum though. It’s going to be in the old town’s iconic Cinkuš gallery caffe, Mletacka street 9, where Braut used to take breaks from her old town walks and drink a glass of white.
The exhibition opens at 8pm, and we highly recommend it for anyone who would like to see how everyday Zagreb looked like before, or has any interest in photography. You rarely get to experience a master of photography in such a place.