Displaced

In this series, I wanted to understand the relationship between the immigrant and his chosen country. Simply through the act of living here, can we ever become German or European? The experience of a shared history fosters collective memory and forms the backbone of what it means to belong to a cultural group. In our time, we have largely come to express the cultural group through the lens of national identity - an unstable and constantly shifting concept. If history has something to do with national identity, what is an immigrant’s relationship to the history of Europe? If we attempt to become German for instance, are we to assume German war guilt? Does that make us German?

 

I became interested in this connection between immigration and national identity, naturally, when I moved to Germany and became and immigrant myself. I advertised for non-European Immigrant models through craigslist. I invited them to the studio to photograph them and then photo-shopped them into historical interiors. Through meeting and painting the individuals represented in this series, I realised that most of them have either little to do with their new country’s history or have a difficult relationship with it. How does this inform their place within their chosen country? In Conquistador, a Mexican artist living in Berlin asked me to place him within a historical Spanish church. The alter of the church in Salamanca is made from pillaged Mexican gold. On such barren ground, is it even possible for a relationship to exist?

 

The figures in this series are often visible minorities who have parents of mixed races. They do not feel tied to their home countries and enjoy the tolerant artistic climate of Berlin.. They become post-national. I have long felt that these people are the hope of the future; Although they initially struggle to feel at home within the great historical walls they find themselves in at the beginning of this series, as the series progresses, they gain in stature and peace, and come to command their surroundings.