Power shifts

I'm interested in power shifts. 

Civilizations, cultures, nations just like individuals gain or lose power through the years, but unlike individuals, cultural or national power shifts happen very slowly, so most of the people miss what's going on. 

Quoting Wikipedia: "The final dissolution of the Western Roman Empire is widely recognized as occurring on on September 4, 476, when Romulus Augustus, the last Emperor of the Western Roman Empire, was deposed by Odoacer, a Germanic chieftain." 

We like dates, so we can locate important facts in History, but in fact it took about 400 years to the Roman Empire to disintegrate. I suppose the 16 generations that lived during this time didn't think often things like "oh, our world is disappearing!". I suppose they lived their lives day by day, and evaluated their surrounding world according to their own situation. 

I turned 30 three days after 9/11, and yes that was a shift. My own personal shift from childhood-youth to youth-adulthood coincided with the Western World shift from "we're the best, fuck the rest" to "what the fuck is going on?".

Islam became first page world news instantly, while the Chinese economic boom took a little more to be totally clear in everybody's mind. 

If the future was going to be chinese, I had to know more about China, so I traveled there a few times shooting progress, growth and factories, and I eventually did a photo book called China Western, in which I studied China's most likely Achille's heel: Xinjiang. China's thirst for oil and the agressive colony-like presence in a remote and muslim Central Asian province.

Then the financial crisis came, and my place, Southern Europe became the new news. Europe looked like disintegrating and the southern countries, the Pigs, as the Financial Times and The Economist used to say, were to blame. The countries where the very concept of Europe was first shaped, were now Europe's Achille's heels. So I did a book called The Pigs putting together a bunch of stereotypes and again, trying to understand when and how the power shift happened.

This book is doing very well. It is appreciated by many journalists and critics in many countries. A few weeks ago The Pigs was awarded the Kassel Festival Photobook Award, and it is shortlisted for the Aperture/Paris Photo Photobook Award.

Because of this relative success, people are asking me often if I already know what will be my next project. And I don't know what to answer, because it takes a lot of time before I even know I am working on a project. What I do is to follow my intuition, and try not to get very far from the one thing I am really interested in: the power shifts.

The US cannot believe they are loosing their predominancy. Russia was, is and will be a mess for a long time, I think. India and Brazil are doing well, but they still have a lot of people living in tin houses. China is conquering the world through extreme capitalism and a brutal understanding of politics.  Europe seems to be heading towards the dismantlement of its most valuable asset, which is the welfare state that has brought peace and a relative social balance for decades. A lot of experts say Europe must work harder, longer and for less, if it wants to compete with China and the other emerging powers.

Well, that looks like a nightmare to me.

I think I am becoming some kind of activist fighting for a more pleasant life. I would rather switch a few lights off, use my bike more often, and plant tomatoes in my garden. I hope Europe changes direction and starts looking againg onto the old Enlightment values: solidarity, culture, love for quality and a very noble disregard for the pure materialistic life.

 

 

Comments

Me encantan Todos tus trabajos carlos... Tus retratos, el monográfico de China o pigs, el trabajo que hiciste para PLA... Tus posts...TODO! Ahí tienes tus frutos... Enhorabuena por el pedazo premio! A disfrutarlo y a seguir enseñando al mundo a través de tus ojos otra realidad. Besos!

Dude, you're going to have a lot to fight for...

La pregunta del millon es ¿queda alguien dispuesto a pelear en Europa? Entre los desilusionados, los rebeldes, los asimilados, los desesperados, los decepcionados, los colonizados... ¿Quién va a dar la batalla?
Hubo otros tiempos en que la gente -los obreros, los campesionos- trabajaban de sol a sol, 6 dias a la semana, 52 semanas al año, por salarios de miseria que ni siquiera les daban para comer y se unian para construir para sus hijos la escuela a la que no habían podido ir, la biblioteca y la casa el pueblo, el ateneo en el que hablar de salud y libertad, las cajas de resistencia y las mutuas... Hablo del XIX, pero tambien de la España de los 60 y 70. ¿Quién lucha hoy? ¿Como?Igual ese es un tema interesante.

About this blog

In 2008 I started to write a weekly post about people and issues related to photography, with a wide range of subjects.

Archived Blog 2008-2013

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