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Borderlands: The Edges of Europe

Borderlands: The Edges of Europe, Paola Leonardi

Borderlands: The Edges of Europe is a collection of analogue photographs representing the people and places along the land borders of the European Union, developed with the purpose of creating an archive of images narrating life at the edges of Europe.

The idea for this project originates from my own family trans-national and trans-cultural background: my grandmother was of Yugoslavian origins and was born as refugee in Switzerland during the Great War. Whenever her and my mother had a disagreement, my mother would dismiss it saying “We argue because she is a Slavic!”.

Growing up in Italy in the 80s I was thought the importance of belonging to the European Union, whilst by contrast at home I developed the idea of “the other”, the “non-European” living across an imaginary border.
As a teenager I relocated to the UK were part of the public opinion is hostile to the idea of belonging to the European Union.
The current economic climate has highlighted the fragility of the European Union, where talks of “default” and “ejection” for some countries seem to contradict the proposal of inclusion of new ones, showing how the European borders can be modified with disregard for existing nationalities and cultures.

Living in an EU country that is not my homeland has prompted my interest on researching the meaning of European identity.

Since 2011 I have undertaken extensive walks along the land borders of the European Union. Proceeding slowly on foot and following methodically the boundaries traced on maps, I have built up a distinctive experience of the European frontier that includes unplanned encounters with its inhabitants.

This series focuses on the connection between people and territory and the significance of trans-national and transcultural identities, exploring the relevance of European identity and its relationship with concepts of home and belonging, memory and territory and how these have been shaped by events.

More info: www.borderlands.eu

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