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Buvusioji-sostine

The Europeans : The Former Capital

Buvusioji sostiné

Rob Hornstra

The Europeans

Publication date : 2020/04/01
Self published in 2020 in conjunction with a show at the Kaunas Photography Gallery.
Stitched softcover, 170×213 mm, 112 pages, with 63 color/monochrome red tinted reproductions.
texts/interviews by Arnold van Bruggen (in English/Lithuanian).
Design by Kummer & Herrman.

Hornstra and van Bruggen’s project is their most ambitious yet – a composite portrait of modern Europe, told in a series of artistic chapters/photobooks. In a certain way, Henri Cartier-Bresson’s post-WWII photobook Les Européens (from 1955) marks the starting point for attempting to use photography to define what it means to be European, and plenty of water has flowed under the various national bridges since that time. While the European Union is increasingly tasked with maintaining economic and structural order across the continent, nationalism (or populism, or authoritarianism, depending on your definition) is on the rise in nearly every member state. Economic inequality (ranging from prosperity to poverty), disparities of opportunity, wide ranging definitions of identity, cultural differences between the modern global cites and the rural countryside, the steady arrival of open border migrants and immigrants, and a whole host of other nuanced issues complicate the overarching idea of being European, and Hornstra and van Bruggen have jumped feet first into this swirling brew of history, economics, and sociology to try to take stock of how 21st century Europe is changing.

While the larger project (entitled The Europeans) will ultimately wander from region to region within Europe, the first chapter of the effort has taken shape as The Former Capital. Hornstra and van Bruggen have deliberately tried to avoid identifying any particular city or country as the location of this work, in the hopes that readers will step back and see The Former Capital as a universal location in the Eastern European heartland, rather than as a specific place they have documented.

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