Borders seem old-fashioned in our globalized world. Yet they still exist, not only dividing nation-states, but also people, cultures and experiences. Most of them are borders not only in space, but also – and perhaps more importantly – in time. They are the fine line between the past and future, which we have grown used to call the present. In this, we can see both: the relics of the what used to be and the promise of a better world. We see the monuments to men and institutions that have long since fallen and those to aspirations that have never been achieved.
In these lands, the soil, the buildings, and the people’s faces are full of scars that politics inflicted. Here the plans and aspirations devised in far-off capitals are not merely lofty visions but manifest reality, forcing those to cope that had no part in their formation. The remnants of their haphazard and impromptu efforts add new layers of meaning to the stately projects, sometimes reinforcing, sometimes contradicting them. And as the scars scars and scab remain when interests shift and power realigns, the present dos present a gateway here for exploring not only the past, but visions of a future that was not to be.
I was born in a small town in the far West of Germany. When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989 I was a mere nine years old, remembering just little more than fireworks and chanting on TV. It thus took me another decade to make my first trip behind what used to be the Iron Curtain. What lay in front of me immediately struck me as uncharted territory, a world so vastly different and at the same time so familiar that it challenged my imagination. From this early fascination grew a lifelong preoccupation with the nature of the borderlands, the fleeting in-between-ness of societies in a transition: The staying powers of the past and the driving forces of the future. In trying to make sense of it, I use both photography and writing, and yet I am aware that much more will be needed.