Over the past hundred years, travelers have become tourists. This is a phenomenon of our times. We almost seamlessly emerge from our everyday world into a strange, exotic, magical world. We usually do this without having embarked on a journey in the true sense of the word. We can reach almost every location on earth within a day and take possession of it. We complain about the floods of tourists we inevitably get roped into without recognizing that they are also made up of us, that we are a part of the avalanches that roll through the alleys of the World Heritage cites.
And yet it is always the others who become a plague for the true travelers. If we become aware of it and search for remote paths and places, we believe ourselves to be on the side of the wise, those true travelers who want to dive deeper into foreign worlds and cultures. But as long as we do not live there and experience our everyday lives, it remains merely the inhaling of exotic atmospheres. Whether we refuse to accept it or prepare by speaking the language of a distant country, we always are and remain tourists, blocking other tourists’ views. We take our place in the foreign country, as if it were very natural, by taking a selfie there. Our “home,” our friends and relatives always seem to travel along with us.
Tourist is a book about people who leave their everyday surroundings only to reemerge as tourists in the world’s locations of greatest longing. One could assume that this subject would mainly produce bizarre results, and I did, in fact, find it difficult to avoid the sensational and the obvious, but over time, engaging with this became a kind of intimate encounter for me. Even when far away, people remain the way they are, regardless of whether traveling alone, with a partner, or with a group. Loneliness may be waiting for single globetrotters there, or the unfamiliar state of constantly spending time with a spouse, or just the hectic pace and hustle and bustle of a chance encounter on a bus. All kinds of travel have one thing in common: they change people. I have photographed this transition, which for me does not have to be negative by itself. I would like to show the moments of being overwhelmed, of feeling impuissance even when facing foreign cultures, and the constant attempts to somehow transport themselves home with selfies, as well as the moments of tranquility, of arriving and of romance actually taking place between people, or between people and nature. As in my documentaries, I am interested in people and their nature. While traveling, I have noticed that I can have an abundance of photographic discoveries during this time that people call vacation.
I do not denounce mass tourism, I observe it. In the end, it is our fundamental need to see and experience what is foreign to us. Travelers who leave their homeland and everyday surroundings often discover more than just exotic, unusual places or ways of life; they also reveal parts unknown and unfamiliar within themselves.
We all try avoiding tourists, and yet we regularly transform into them ourselves. Especially in these times, when every flight gives us a guilty conscience, when the floating giants dump millions of tourists onto the Venices of our earth, I want to show a more subtle picture of modern age travelers in my photographs. I have tried to discover the people behind the tourists – and they can, in fact, be found there – on vacation. Full of joy, love, and loneliness.