Land Ends - Photographs from the Borderlands of Europe
“Here, where the land ends and the sea begins.” – Luís Vaz de Camões
The borders of Europe are somewhat arbitrary, as the term "continent" can also refer to a cultural and political demarcation of space. Quoting the philosopher Zigmunt Baumann, «culture, and so the human way of being, began with drawing a boundary where there was none». The «ends» are, at times, fields of battle, as well as meeting points, between the familiar and the unknown; in between our «home» and the rest of the world.
But is there a European identity? What is the meaning of boundaries, and what do they define?
In an attempt to answer these questions, I began in 2006 a two-and-half-year-long journey, to document Europe’s four geographical edges:
Gavdos –southernmost point (Greece),
Finnmark –northernmost point (Norway),
Urals –easternmost point (Russia),
Sintra –westernmost point (Portugal).
Comparing the four edges of Europe, the landscape varies immensely, meanwhile, the people have so much in common. In the South, Gavdos and its harsh topography, in the North, Nordkapp and the white silence of the tundra, in the West, the popular Sintra and the splendor of its old summer palaces, in the East, the Urals and the heavy legacy of the gulags, the nuclear factories and one of the most radioactive regions of the world. We meet the people in their everyday life: the Russian scientists and artists who left their country to live in Gavdos, Rafik who lives next to one of the most radioactive places on the planet, Dima a modern day worker at a former gulag, Rune a fisherman in the North Sea, Maria Joao from Sintra who explains to us the meaning of the word «saudade»: «... it is the feeling of loneliness that is born as you look out on the endless ocean, hoping that someone will visit you».
As curator and art director of photography festivals Laura Serani points out in the book: “Pavlos Fysakis’ work reflects a new way of documenting and researching and is registered as a new form of photojournalism which distances itself from current affairs and focuses more on the narration of everyday life. Mixing testimony and narration through a personal perspective that is displayed through color, Fysakis takes part in the re-invention of travel and landscape photography, away from the post-card cliché or grand classic reportage. Like a lonely traveler from another era, Fysakis started off to discover at the four points of the horizon, the ends, the last steady reference points of a Europe that is constantly in motion and where only the seas and the oceans remain constant bulwarks. The whole of his work seems, in the end, to be a search for boundaries and identity, and this observation applies also to Land Ends, a double portrait of these geographical spaces, privileged locations of the paradoxical and the symbolic, but also of their inhabitants. Fysakis sweeps us up in strange encounters, possible only at the border villages where people live at a cultural, geographical and national “in-between”. Or at isolated islands, which are swept by winds that carry the echoes of other places. The clean frames and the eccentric empty landscapes reflect the expanses of the spaces, where often only the horizon reminds us of boundaries and their isolation”.
The “Land Ends” book was released in December 2009
Received Best Greek Photography Book prize in 2010
Hard cover 24, 5x26cm, 61 color photographs, 148 pages
Texts by: Laura Serani and Nikos Xidakis
Available online PHOTOBOOKSTORE.GR