July 5th, 2018

My name is Jochen Sand. I work full-time as an advertising photographer. 25 years ago this was my plan P, after Great Artist and some B plans didn’t work out.

A few years earlier I was hanging out with some school drop-outs, art students, squatters and all kinds of survival artists and soon had a fundamental European experience. I met Elisenda, a spanish girl from Barcelona. We fell in love and soon afterwards we were together and later on together more and more often in Barcelona.

In Spain I came in touch the priceless value of a healthy and attentive family core. Here I experienced a life beyond the own instability of a childhood without father and poor rooting after several moves up to the age of 15 years. Life here had more to offer than insecurity and the stress of having to assert oneself again and again.

Here, too, not everything went off without drama. Actually nothing happened without drama. But even in the argument there was intimacy. We had a lot of it. Spaniards can argue well from the start, even impulsively. I also had practice in that. Also from home. But German arguments quickly become existential and are far too subtle and ambiguous. German quarrels want to hide and close. Spanish dispute is revelation.

The more often we had been in Spain, the deeper I grew into Eli’s family, became a part of it and experienced warmth and trust. The open-hearted acceptance of Eli’s family was the opening into a universe of connectedness. Barcelona took me to another orbit of my life.

Back on earth at the end of the eighties our main residence was Karlsruhe. Both of us wanted to graduate in school. By that time the European Economic Area as we know it today only existed theoretically. The UnionsbĂĽrgerrichtlinie, which regulates the freedom of movement and residence of persons within the European Union, did not come into force until 2004. Payment was made here in Deutschmarks and in Spain with pesetas. One mark paid 67 pesetas. At the borders there were hours of waiting because of luggage or ID checks.

Eli’s stay in Germany was only tolerated. Every few weeks we had to refresh this acquiescence, which was bound to the fact that Eli was not allowed to earn money in the Federal Republic and had to prove a residence, which had to be financed by someone. Eli’s status in Germany was more than vague.

But at that time we were carefree and confident that everything would work well out with Europe, we graduated with asterisks and we didn`t care for European politics any further. Summers came, we arrived at the beach, and soon there was the euro. Everything seemed possible. Even the pension was safe! We thought we were on the right side of history, the European Union was gradually getting shaped.

Today Eli lives with her own family in the north of Germany, I live in the south. We meet occasionally and then argue again. Recently we texted a lot about the future of Europe in the light of the events that 2017 occurred in Catalonia. Another revelation. Many aspects that Eli describes, I can understand. Some conclusions are impulsive.

They touch me. As before.