The Italian photographer pictures the boarders of Europe's Southern countries - Spain, France, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Romania, and Bulgaria
“I consider myself a son of the European project,” says Tommaso Rada. “I am part of a generation that lived through the opening of the borders between many different countries, the introduction of the euro, and all the new cultural and linguistic mixing that the European project meant. The feeling of being Italian as well as European is the reason why I am interested in the European Union.”
Rada is now based in São Paulo, but was born in Biella in northern Italy and lived in his home country until he was 25. He watched as the policies of the EU evolved, and as the meaning of the Union began to change. His ongoing series Domestic Borders frames a number of different projects he has made, evoking the varying perspectives of those living along the borders of the member countries.
Back to South, the most recent chapter, focuses particularly on the countries that would be affected if a ‘two-speed’ Europe was implemented – a proposal in which certain members, perhaps those in better economic positions and political situations, would integrate at a faster pace, leaving the others on the periphery. Visiting the areas that would be ‘left behind’, Rada hopes to show the “challenges of living in a unique space with a different passage of time”.
One image shows a group of boys in Vila Nova de Cerveira in Portugal, sitting in a line atop some rolled up artificial turf. The synthetic grass is only spread out on the football pitch on special occasions to make it last longer, so the boys normally play on dirt. Another images shows a room in a petrol station on the border between Bulgaria and Greece. A portrait of Vladimir Putin hangs on the wall, illustrating “a feeling that, these days, is becoming quite frequent in some European countries,” says Rada – a feeling that speaks of a growing discontent with the Union.
Images from the southern European countries – Spain, France, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Romania, and Bulgaria – are mixed together in the series, bound by their geographical location and the impact of the most recent economic crisis. In doing so, Rada wanted to “establish a dialogue between a diverse although similar people and territories,” he says. “The result is an unusual ‘travel visual narrative’ that did not aim at providing any answers but to pose questions on living within a specific political space.”
He leaves it to the viewers to draw their own conclusions about the two-speed proposition, but his position is clear. For him the EU was created with a vision for unity and peace, based on the principles of freedom and social justice. Segregating the Union into two defined camps is discriminatory. “The ‘two-speed’ Europe would only increase the discontent of the people against other European countries,” he says.
“The countries that are having problems achieving the economic goals established by the EU should try to find better solutions, but there is also a communitarian principle of helping each other that should be followed, honouring the idea of unity in solidarity.”