rescEurope is the place on the web where I want to document journalistic experiences in text and images that have to do with the order of Europe. So far I have published such reports in a separate section of my photography page, SandWorks, and on the online platform of the Young European Federalists, Treffpunkt Europa. Now I want to give them their own space.
My ambitions to document political or social topics from Europe make no claim to completeness or regularity. Rather, I choose them arbitrarily. When I read about an imminent moment relevant to Europe in the free and independent press, I think about whether it is feasible for me to go there. The limits of feasibility are quickly reached when the European deadline overlaps with a production that has already been agreed and planned with a customer for the same period.
In addition, I would prefer to travel in summer rather than winter for a political project of my choice. This has a lot to do with the way I travel. I will come back to that later. Spoiler: I take the bus.
I guess I’ve always been a political person. My mother used to say that I act as if I were Jesus or: “With your mouth you gotta go into politics”. But the stage is not mine at all and neither is the cross. It is not coincidence that I stand behind the camera and not in front of it.
With Europe and all the bickering about it, my will for harmony has found a wide field of activity. It was the time of Putin’s wannabe-great-man epic on the Crimea and his lie in the Ukraine and the time of the terrible Islamist attacks in Brussels and Nice, Böhmermann’s blood grave in the farce, which the other Poser, Erdogan, had with Extra 3, when I became increasingly nervous about stability and self-image of Europe. Then the Brits decided for Brexit!
I wondered why not all people accept the idea of a colourful and united Europe and share with confidence the warm feeling of being part of a benevolent and protective whole? This thought is a great hope for many people. But it seems to threaten some others. I was interested in the discrepancy in the perception of the European idea. I wanted to know why there are so many different expectations about it. Is it poor communication about how and what? Or does the friction of the processes of coming together let of the size of that idea fade? And would all this suspicion vanish the more finished everything would become?
In order to find a way to understand Europe and to document processes in this multi-ethnic entity, I have linked some of the red threads of my life. I connected the existing political thread with the photo thread and knotted the two with the travel fever thread. By setting off for Europe and making a photo project out of it, I could channel my pro-European energy within the bounds of my possibilities.
It was immediately clear to me that I needed a buddy. He should be rich, powerful and influential. I contacted Martin Schulz.
At that time he was President of the European Parliament in Strasbourg. He had made impressive speeches there. His heart beat for Europe and it seemed as if he too had a problem with the fact that even in the 21st century democratic values and universal human rights still have to be negotiated. I wanted him to be my patron saint and advocate.
What probably few people could have guessed was that Schulz was presumably already being appointed as the SPD’s candidate for chancellor in 2016 for the 2017 election. And of course he will have had been totally busy as President of Parliament in these stormy times keeping Europe running. At least that’s what I thought when a thin letter came from his office with wishes for success and happiness and Go for it – but sorry.
I quickly rejected my first impulsive idea of a road trip through Europe for budget and time reasons. I couldn’t drive through Europe for months. Instead I went back to the old box of life experience, picked out a few of them and forged a plan. In the nineties I spent a few months in New York to forget what I had learned about photography in Karlsruhe as quickly as possible. The Think Big Therapy worked out well back then and in a few months I learned more about photography overthere than in the three years of apprenticeship before.
In NY I gained another important insight about myself and about moving. While half of New York was underground, that wasn’t an option for me. I wanted to get to know the city above. And so on the third day I bought a Disc Man and a bike called JAZZ! I have cycled all the boroughs for weeks before pushing the button of my Canon the first time. At that time there weren’t many people cycling in New York except for a few Bike Messengers. But for me the bike was the most effective, beautiful and elegant way to experience the city.