THE BRILLIANCE! > Boogie! What’s up man? How are you today?
BOOGIE! > Hellish. Had a long one last night…
TB! > Will you expose your real name, or do you just prefer Boogie?
Sure man, Vladimir Milivojevich… but Boogie is the way to go.
TB! > What’s on everybody’s mind is what you had for breakfast and what your favorite drink is. Discuss.
Don’t really do breakfast, unless I had a rough time the night before - in that case, toasted sesame bagel with olive pimiento cream cheese. And Gatorade. Large coffee too. Advils.
Otherwise, I drink a lot of Burgundy reds and Loire whites.
TB! > Alright, enough of that. Let’s get to the point. Explain to everyone what it is you do.
I document what I see around me.
TB! > So how did you get your start? Why did you decide it would be a good idea to travel to some of the most dangerous urban areas to shoot photography? Or maybe it’s a bad idea and you just don’t care?
A bit of both. I really have a strong drive that leads me to shoot my subjects - where I need to go and “danger” do not really come to mind when I make my decisions. It is mostly whether I can afford to do it or not. If so, the rest comes naturally.
TB! > Where are you originally from and what prompted you to move to the US?
I am from Belgrade, Serbia. Won the green card lottery. Had no real plans to move here, but one night I was sitting around with a bunch of friends, getting fucked up, and we all decided to apply. I was the only one to win.
TB! > How come you don’t shoot in color?
Color is… perhaps too much information…? I’m not really sure… It doesn’t feel right. Or maybe it’s money - I process my black & white stuff myself, in my bathroom dark room (the biggest freaking bathroom in all of Brooklyn).
I did some color developing myself, but it was so time consuming (and not rewarding), that I was losing my mind.
TB! > Your photography has grown from personal hobby to doing work for clients. Who are some of the clients you have worked for - big and small - and can you tell us about some of the upcoming client work you’ll be working on or featured in?
Commercial work… hmmm…. I did some work for Nike, did their European “true basket” campaign. Have some high end clothing “rock and roll” clients from Japan… Did some work for both the Italian and US Rolling Stone recently… It’s OK, I guess.
TB! > Can you name off every city or country you have had the opportunity to travel to? What is your favorite city in the world? What is your least favorite?
Not much traveling, really… Bulgaria, France, Italy, Serbia, Brazil, Cuba, Romania, Germany, Turkey, Greece… Favorite city so far, Sao Paolo. Least favorite city - Munich.
TB! > Any places you specifically dream of traveling to but just have not been to yet?
Lots. I’m drawn to fucked up places… but Johannesburg has to be at the top of the list. Buenos Aires of course. MOSCOW.
TB! > So - looking through your site, I even feel a little scared. I mean, this is candid, real life stuff here. Everything you shoot is raw, not sugar coated stuff, just very real and very in your face. I could go on with questions for days on this topic but - just describe how you feel when you make the trek into these areas. Do you get scared? Do you ever worry for your own safety? You seem like a fearless man…
Yes, I feared for my life on numerous occasions, but always listened to my gut instinct. It can really tell you when it’s time to take off, just start running. There were times when I had a knife in my hand, an unknown crack head coming into a crack house, with a hammer (a REAL hammer, not a gun) in his hand - I was next to a window sweating, thinking - do I stab him or do I jump through the window, into some broken glass and shit… Stuff like that, all the time. But I’m not sure it is real fear - more just survival instincts, something you have to deal with.
One thing to add - when u leave a situation like this and take a deep breath of fresh air - IT FEELS GOOD.
TB! > What is your favorite set of photos on your site? I love the GANGS set…just so wild man - so uncut and scary The CRACK section too - it blows me away. Do you have any particular set that you treasure among others?
I don’t really like any of them. My editing skills suck, I have much better work in my daily postings AND probably in my negs… I never did contact sheets in my life… And I’m too lazy to re-visit my archive. WHEN I DO, IT IS AMAZING. It made me realize that my first choices are very, very, very poor.
Those choices are still on my web-site, but whatever… Hopefully, I’ll find time or an intern to help me deal with that shit.
TB! > What goes through your mind while you take photos of people doing crack, dope…all the drugs…that’s scary right there. I read in another interview you’ve just become numb to a lot of it, that you just do your thing and be on your way…but what’s that feeling like when these mothers are doing crack?
I don’t know man… First time I did it, a crack head girl invited me to her bathroom to take photos of her shooting up dope. I thought it was gonna be scary or frustrating or bothersome, or whatever… but the next thing I know, I’m standing on the bath tub, she is sitting on the toilet shooting up… and I’m calmly taking pictures, while her kids are knocking on the door, screaming that they need help with their homework.
I know it all sounds weird, but my mind was clear and my shots were sharp - it was like I was not there, totally calm and blocking it all out.
But you know… It all stays in there… in your head… and comes out later. Sometiems I get flash backs, I get depressed… It’s heavy shit.
TB! > How does it work? How do you just walk into these areas and just start taking pictures? What do you tell these people and what kinds of questions do they ask?
I don’t know. I just went there and somehow connected with them. I kind of have a history of attracting and being attracted to weirdos… Normal people are just not interesting. I’ve been through a lot of shit myself, growing up in Milosevic’s Serbia, being surrounded by war, violence, poverty, guns and drugs. I’m simply very comfortable with all this stuff.
TB! > Are you a spiritual or religious person? You must be experiencing so many different emotions, culture shocks, feelings, and all that. Does God, prayer, religion, or any of that play a part in your life or your work?
Spiritual yes. Religious, not sure. You know, I don’t believe in an old man sitting on a cloud, but we all have something that we need to follow, and that something is inside. Call it what you will.
TB! > I love the PLAYGROUND section too - kind of feels like a little intermission when you go through your site…like some room to breathe. The photos show people having fun, being active, optimistic and all that. Do you ever get the urge to shoot more photography that reflects this vibe?
Not really. That was a project I did for Nike - the photos came out great, I was really happy, but to tell you the truth, I would never shoot anything like that on my own, by choice… But who knows, maybe as a healing process (which I will have to go through at some point), I may start shooting chicks and puppies - why not playgrounds again?
TB! > Have you made friends with any of these people along the way? Do you ever go back to the same place and meet up with the same people to shoot their lives?
Yes I did. I did a shoot for a Japanese client just the other day, and used a friend of mine, member of the Blood gang, as a model. The kid is great, smart, sharp and I guess he made his choices a while ago - he is a three star general in the Bloods. But I know that whatever he chose to focus himself on, he would be great at it. What I tried to do is show him that he has an alternative…
You know, some of these people are great, much better than people you encounter on everyday basis. I understand them. I was at Tito’s house for Christmas, it was great. Tito is 43, spent over 20 years in prison… member of Latin Kings gang, but he is a great guy. It is hard to explain, but I had some family problems recently and he told me: “Boogie, you know what I do - I sell drugs and I’m pretty poor. But whatever I have, you can have half - stay at my house, eat my food. You are my friend.”
I guess I feel comfortable around these people and they feel the same about me.
TB! > Did you see the movie ‘Born Into Brothels’? Well - if you haven’t, you really should. Basically this lady goes to India and gives these little kids cameras and lets them take photos. It’s a beautiful story and film…Ever thought of doing something like that? Leave a camera with some of the people in the areas you go to, maybe just a disposable, and letting them take pictures? Could be cool…
I’ve never seen the movie. But I did the same thing with a couple of my friends in the projects - I left them disposable cameras to shoot their New Year’s Day celebrations, Christmas, etc… Some interesting shots came out of that.
TB! > Is the photography your life, full-time thing?
TB! > What else do you do when you aren’t behind the lens? Hobbies, work, friends…all that…
Good food. Lately lots of Spanish cheeses and wines.
TB! > What music have you been rocking lately?
Serbian gang, heavy junkie hip-hop. Heroin rap. Shit that would never be played on any radio station, anywhere. Heavy, heavy, heavy… reality of Serbian life over the last decade.
TB! > Do you have any specific inspirations, mentors, or anything like that you’d like to talk about?
My dad. But I’d rather not talk about it. He passed away a year ago.
TB! > Do you have any crazy stories you’d like to share? Anything that would make people’s jaws drop…?
Not that many. Getting beat up while hanging with nazi skinheads in Belgrade - we got jumped by like 40 kids and it was rough. I’ve seen a guy shot in the head.
TB! > Any shout-outs or namedrops? Here’s your chance…
Hamburger Eyes magazine. Matt Webber. Donna Ferrato. Peter from Kingston, Jamaica. Budimir and Vanja from Belgrade. Coja and Pedja.
TB! > Oh, one more thing. What is the name Boogie from and what is the name ArtCoup from?
Boogie is my nickname that derives from a movie, some twenty years ago… Boogieman was the scary character.
Artcoup. Hm. I did a search expired domaine names on DirectNic.com using “coup” - this one was the first that came up and I bought it.
TB! > Thanks man - we really appreciate you doing the interview.
Thank you Chuck. It was a pleasure.