On Borders

On Borders, Ostkreuz Agency Photographers, Hatje Cantz, Ð38.00.

They offer protection, lead to war, limit freedom or enable it; they have always been there and will continue to exist: borders. Hardly anything else is as socially ambivalent, as timeless and as relevant. The Ostkreuz Agency was founded when what was probably the most important border in the history of Germany – the Berlin Wall– disappeared. Two decades later, its photographers set out on a search for today’s frontiers. Their pictures portray groups of indigenous peoples battling for their land in Canada, homosexuals in Palestine seeking exile in the enemy country of Israel, and the discovery of state identity in South Sudan. The focus is always on people: how do boundaries influence their everyday lives?

On Borders covers many borders dissecting the planet, but there are some that seem less recognized: European borders. Many European Union (EU) citizens have experienced a changing and expanding border as EU territory is extended. Most who enter the EU illegally still elect to take the route from Turkey to Greece, which leads across the Evros River or along a country road. But the days when countries tried to halt these migrants with barbed wire, police and guard dogs are over. Ever since the advent of the Frontex Agency, a kind of common EU border patrol, technology is being upgraded along the edges of Europe.

BordersUsing infrared cameras, motion detectors and electric fences –alarmingly resembling human traps– more and more immigrants are being turned away. But still more are taking their chances. In 2011, according to Frontex’s report, the number of individuals arrested rose by 35 percent from 104,000 in 2010 to 141,000 in 2011. In the future, the organization plans to use robots and drones. Walking in Athens today, one can see an increasing number of illegal immigrants wandering the streets, looking for any opportunity to eat and make a living.

On Borders is made by exceptional journalists using their cameras to inspire us to observe and reflect. We need more books like this.


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