New Frontier

by Philippe Braquenier

"Borders? I have never seen one. But I have heard they exist in the minds of some people.", by Thor Heyerdahl

Security as one of the principal human needs has throughout history driven man to develop new ways to keep himself safe. One way used to ensure security has been to create territories in order to separate areas attributed to different groups of individuals. The means used to define these borders vary in function of the need to make of them a binding reality and mark a clear and distinct separation.

Throughout history, the territories evolved further by fragmentation to become the territory of a single person; the private property. This is the result of the individualisation of occidental societies which impel these space delimitation to become narrower even while nation-wide frontiers open up and new separations appear around the globe, tearing groups apart.

This ever increasing partitioning of space has brought the need to symbolise separations and physical borders to vanis with time. It is the case of a crime scene for instance where the territory is created by the need of preserving an area temporarily.

This work was done in 2011 in the US but its echo resonates even stronger in the current European climate. We are seeing for the first time open territories going close again. Europe continues to enlarge and still promises new members but countries which constitute it increasingly fold on themselves. New walls are constantly erect, borders become real again, became physical representation of protective thoughts.

This set of pictures aims to challenge the notion of territory and the meaning it still carries. These spaces, theoretically inviolable in the collective unconscious, were created and then left after taking the photograph. In the manner of artists of American Land Art, these ephemeral spaces are meant to vanish with time, like any man made concept. Questioning the social need of fragmentation of space by opposing the symbolism of ephemeral and exceptionally created territories with the natural and urban vastness of the US. While carrying an amused glance on the absurdness of territorial limits, the spectator is brought to wonder abou tthe merits of delimitation which are sometimes claimed, sometimes enforced.

About the author
Philippe Braquenier, born in 1985, is a Belgian artist working in conceptual and documentary photography. He received his BFA in photography from the HELB in Brussels and has exhibited in Foto Museum Antwerpen, The Brussels Royal Museum of Fine Arts and Aperture Foundation in New York among other institutions and galleries. His work has recently been published in Wired, Wallpaper Magazine, Wall Street International, Internazionale, Aint-Bad and Médor Magazine.

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