No Easy Way Out
During the COVID-19 crisis in Germany Heinrich Voelkel has been driving along its closed borders. The state of emergency prevails in signal colors along 1,783 kilometers, with redandwhite tape, construction site barriers, and “no through traffic”-signs marking the end of freedom as we know it.
Voelkel’s pictures discover a country that has curled up into a ball in order to protect itself from a virus. They document how vital arteries have been cut off; how Europeans are no longer allowed to visit each other; how, from one minute to the next, nothing has been the same since. They show us landscapes painfully devoid of people, but whose marks of fear are tangible.
The nationalist state celebrates its return; it offers protection, sets up frameworks that had been forgotten. And yet it is obvious that these borders are temporary, provisory, symbolizing an attempt to main tain the concept of a united Europe: a discrepancy that Voelkel’s work carves out in strangely quiet, impressive tableaux.