By Stephen Barber
Extreme Europe explores the city extremes of Europe of their cultural, actual, geographical and legendary dimensions, contemplating the historical past and visible tradition of Europe within the decade after the autumn of the Berlin Wall. Barber's goal is to envision Europe's towns and their surrounding components as websites of a clash among the enchanting, all-engulfing energy of visible media and the hardly surviving lines of tenacious old tradition; his premise is that the "breakdown zones" at Europe's city edges are the websites the place its oppositional and most crucial photographs and languages are being created today.
Barber units out to discover and outline Europe's political and conceptual edges, first creating a circuit eastwards via Albania to Turkey, then south- and westwards alongside the Mediterranean coast, with stops in Crete and Marseille. The book's different sections circulate, first, via a number of a long time of background as they are often learn in either the surviving and the remodeled materials of Berlin, and, eventually, during the frayed, disaffected multicultural landscapes of Paris's outer suburbs.
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For a few weeks in the summer, at least, a degree of activity would return, and the shuttered casino and hotel would open up to a transient, international clientele. Istanbul remained invisible from the island, though when a thunderous rain poured down, it was tainted with the city’s hot and bitter taste. On a journey westwards across the southern limits of Europe, you move from island to island, and the sea opens up endlessly before you. The physical trial of eastern Europe dispels itself, and the sun sears away exhaustion.
The limits of Europe, on its southern peripheries, often seem to be marked out by a line that barely sustains a continuous pressure on the map, so that in places, around islands scattered across the Mediterranean, they appear to glide, zigzag or even make no mark at all. But such an impression is a heat-fuelled illusion, and at points along that margin, such as the southern coast of France, the fearful line is pressed down with an ultimate hostility, incised indelibly. Southern Europe seethes in its myths and stories, but its pre-eminent narratives amass around the matter of the origins of Europe itself.
The Reichstag became one of Europe’s extreme screens. For several successive nights, in the summer darkness, great crowds gathered to sit in front of the building on expanses of grass that would be supplanted by building sites by the century’s end. This population of spectators created its own cacophonic soundtrack to the existence of Berlin as they gazed in awe at the spectacle of nothing. The darkness transformed vision into individual intersecting trajectories of imagery and memory, and from that void surface, images from the past, present and future of Berlin were incessantly generated in a revelation of the city.
Extreme Europe by Stephen Barber