Schengen. a photographic work by Ruth Stoltenberg
Schengen is a small wine making village in Luxembourg which shares a border with the German Saarland and the French Lorraine. It is here that the agreement to eliminate the inner-European border checks of the Schengen Area was signed. And yet today this symbolic place of international understanding as well as the successful co-existence of different cultures and nationalities has, in the truest sense of the word, run up against its borders.
Photographer Ruth Stoltenberg grew up in this border triangle in the 1960s and 1970s and was interested in exploring just what influence the opening of the borders has had in these 30 years on the various cultures and lifestyles of the people in those three countries. Referring to the Schengen model she asks: Is national identity visible? Are there visual differences in the villages, for example, in the houses, (front)gardens, streets or larger squares, which allow you to see which country is which ? Or does the region, shaped by winemaking and farming, have its own unique, transnational character?
Ruth Stoltenberg focuses on the small things of everyday life in the three neighbouring communities of Schengen in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Perl in Germany and Apach in France as well as on smaller villages in the immediate vicinity.. She gets up close to the objects with her camera, while allowing the tiniest of details to speak from within her, on photographs strictly arranged in form. As to the question of where the images were taken, the photographer deliberately remains silent – it is only in the respective index that the place names are revealed.