PAST EUPHORIA – POST EUROPA ~ PHOTOBOOK BY FABIO SGROI
How does one define the long journey in images and time that Fabio Sgroi has undertook? Find out more and how to order a copy.
‘The title of this book helps us understand his intentions: to narrate a transition, from the moment of euphoria generated by the birth of a new socio-political perspective (the fall of the Eastern barriers and the establishment of the new European reality) to the subsequent awareness that not everything was achieved, that not everything would be easy. An epochal moment during which, as history allows, the transition bears witness to a loss of innocence. A contemporary matter, complex to visualize, that Sgroi began thinking about many years ago, immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall. As he remembers, the idea of continuing this demanding investigation became more consistent in 2004 while in the Balkans, when nine Eastern European countries were joining Europe. Actually, the photographic journey had perhaps begun in Berlin in 1994, and in the following years, Sgroi would cross fourteen countries: Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Herzegovina, Germany, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Hungary.
In the book, that collects more than twenty years of experience, the beginning of the story is entrusted to road signs, that preserve traces of election campaigns, scratched and scraped faces and words, works of spontaneous pop art, an almost involuntary declaration of intent. Because, as Salvatore Davi pointed out in one of his texts for Sgroi’s eponymous exhibition presentation in 2016, “Euphoria, paraphrasing Hannah Arendt, is behind us” and now we have to deal with multiple and complex realities, economic and cultural differences, the birth of populism, and the evolution of new crises. However, looking at Sgroi’s photographs, image after image, we encounter an unusual dichotomy. The journey seems to split in two: on the one hand, the photographs guide us into a world of emotions in which euphoria is behind us, on the other hand, captions inform us of places and facts that preserve the concreteness of today.
And yet, Sgroi’s work is not, as it has been said, a work of denunciation, but a journey in places and time, and above all, in the recent history of photography and its iconic imagery. You can’t ask photography to describe feelings and emotions directly, but only to portray the faces of people in the grip of such feelings and emotions, or to suggest moods through visual metaphors. Fabio Sgroi knows the language of journalism, but also that of metaphor. His gaze is the attentive and cultured one of an author who crosses countries and cities, who dwells on faces, glances, but also on skies, nature, and man-made objects, so that we no longer know if the railway crosses Montenegro or Bosnia, but frankly it is not so important to know, at least not here. Here, we can only follow the wandering movements of someone who tells us a personal vision, melancholic perhaps, certainly disenchanted. And only the captions tell us where we really are, in which country of this great Europe conformed by a coherent vision.
It is the photographer who dissolves the differences, and to some extent, unites, by juxtaposing with the same empathetic gaze card players in Thessaloniki with a group of turkeys in the Czech Republic. Sgroi’s post-euphoric Europe (who will forgive the misuse of his title) knows shadows, destructions, subsidence, misery, fences, momentary flashes of joy, demolished statues, symbols of the recent past, rubble, and loneliness. Sgroi declines his street photography of the 2000s in thirteen stages that unfold over time and yet seem to nullify its passing. The 2004 Christmas lights of Belgrade are observed with the same poetic sensitivity as the cats in the street, also in Belgrade, shot in 2016. Sgroi defines his wanderings in different countries simply as ‘passages,’ claiming the legitimacy of casual and sporadic encounters and the autonomy of a free gaze that records without denouncing or asserting. A gaze that is imbued with atmospheres and emotions and transforms them into images. The collective identity that Europe hoped to attribute to itself finds an unforeseen concretization in Sgroi’s pictures, and the creation of the identity process happens thanks to the strong language that allowed the author of this book to cross time and countries, to tell us a personal, intense, univocal, and still evolving story.’
To purchase a copy of the book direct from Fabio, click on the web link and click on BUY www.fabiosgroiphoto.com/past-euphoria-post-europa/ Fabio Sgroi
Images: Past Euphoria Post Europa cover, Slovak Rep. 2013, Bratislava – railway station, Albania 2011, Tirana -railway station, dx Greece 2012, Kozani – country bar _ sin Bosnia 2011 Sarajevo – football field bench, © Fabio Sgroi. All rights reserved.