Your country of origin influences your personal identity to a large degree, and it brings with it a sense of belonging. For some nationalities, the boundaries of one’s country are clear, but for some it can be rather vague. Valerio Vincenzo dwells on the latter in his series called Borderline, the Frontiers of Peace which documents the existence of borders that are characterized by ambiguity.
Normal borders are land boundaries of political entities or legal jurisdictions, like sovereign states, federated states, governments, or other subnational entities. Some borders like a state’s internal administrative border, are open and entirely guarded. Other borders are partly or entirely controlled, and may be crossed lawfully only at an elected border checkpoint and border zones may be policed.
Some contentious borders or ‘hotspots’ may even necessitate the setting up of buffer zones. Vincenzo’s Borderline, the Frontiers of Peace hopes to show the consequence of a historical change that has transpired over the past decades in Europe. Since the signing of the Schengen Agreements in 1985, the borders the majority of the European continent have been obscured slowly from the landscapes and people’s knowledge. These Agreements are huge steps toward the progressive unification of Europe and the rise of a European conscience.
Over a span of eight years as well as 10,000 miles, Vincenzo documented the internal borders of the European Union. With his 1964 Hasselblad camera and one 50mm lens, he trekked to countries that included Italy, Germany, France, Switzerland, Poland, and Austria.
Vincenzo observed that the concept of living or moving around the many European countries was unheard of during the Cold War era when barbed wires, walls, or border patrols demarcated national boundaries. He remembers the European Union’s 1995 Schengen Agreement which allowed Europeans to travel unhampered and see themselves in many EU countries.
Vincenzo resided in France for a decade and is now based in the Netherlands. He counts himself a part of what he considers the “Schengen generation.” While the many languages, cultures and traditions in Europe still seem peculiar to Vincenzo, he sees Europe as a continent of opportunity, diversity, and complexity.
“I wanted to give visibility to this change, and I chose to show it in a very simple way. More than about the borders of the past, I want to talk about the borders of the future.” By featuring very peaceful imagery, Vincenzo challenges the concept of a country’s border.
See the images here.