|Fr / En|
The series is inspired by the study of literary works written by Austrian writers during the interwar period. These readings comprise of Hermann Broch's "The Sleepwalkers" 1 Robert Musil's "The Man Without Qualities" 2 , and Joseph Roth's "Radetzky March" 3 . All three novels illustrate the decline of values that characterized Europe in the beginning of the 20 th century with the Austro-Hungarian Empire in their epicenter, leading it blindly to the massacre of the Great War.
Europe, in the summer of 1914 enjoyed a peaceful productivity so dependent on international exchange and co-operation that a belief in the impossibility of general war seemed the most conventional of wisdoms 4 . Integration of the economies of European countries had grown to such a degree that war between them would be entirely futile, rendering militarism obsolete 5 . The superficial order was seemingly untouched by the growing discontent.
Today, in the aftermath of the Sovereign Debt crisis that tested E.U.'s cohesion and resolve, the Community is faced with an unprecedented refugee influx that puts a strain on core values once integral to its people and their governments such as, solidarity and tolerance. Parallel to that, we are experiencing a rise of the voices calling for isolationism and exclusion, often accompanied with hatred and even outbursts of violence. Nevertheless, the growing wealth inequalities as well as the rapid change of anthropogeography may not be the cause but mere symptoms of the fact that we are collectively and senselessly marching towards the same traps into which our forefathers fell only a century ago.
This project aims to explore the thread that unites the zeitgeist of the two very distant but in the meantime ever so similar periods of time. It seeks to examine whether the superficial saturation of an ageing continent combined with a latent xenophobic effervescence can lead to an outbreak that could bring disintegration, or if the calamities of the past have irrevocably united us and secured us from harm. I aim to determine the degree to which the European Unification along with the growing cultural, political and economic cooperation it entails can prove durable to withstand the new populist and parochial wave that raises horizontally in almost all contemporary European Democracies.
My photographs, taken all around Europe in a period of 3 years depict moments of respite and leisure, people in celebration or commemoration. At a first glance everything appears to be in order, balanced pictures of nonchalant moments but their balance is hanging by a thread. An impending threat is looming, creating an asphyxiating tension and the harmony is ready to break from the simplest of opportunities.
My aim is to examine whether the things that keep us as Europeans together are stronger than the ones threatening to tear us apart. Kundera assesses that Musil and Broch were convinced that the novel had tremendous synthetic power, that it could be poetry, fantasy, philosophy, aphorism, and essay all rolled into one and that they saw it as the supreme intellectual synthesis, the last place where man could still question the world as a whole 6. That is what I aspire to achieve with my pictures.
1: Die Schlafwandler, 1931-32
2: Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften, 1930-43
3: Radetzkymarsch 1932
4: John Keegan, The First World War, 1998
5: Norman Angell, The Great Illusion, 1908
6: Milan Kundera, The Paris Review No 81, 1983
but one thing is the thought,
another thing is the deed, and another thing is the image of the deed.
The wheel of causality does not roll between them.