Seiichi Furuya – Staatsgrenze 1981-1983
13. 5. – 31. 5. 2019.
photo: Nenad Roban
In a time when there are more kilometres of fences and razor wires than in the Cold War period, and when points of entry to some countries look like entrances to concentration camps, we no longer perceive borders as purely imaginary lines between countries, peoples and cultures. Today, more than ever before, they appear as unscalable walls.
How much does one country know its borders and what does the life of people near the border look like? – this is a question to which the Japanese photographer with an Austrian address, Seiichi Furuya, tries to provide an answer in his series of photographs made during the eighties, Border 1981-1983 (Staatsgrenze 1981-1983). The work includes a geographic map with marked locations and 23 photographs taken on the borders of Austria and what were at that time countries of the Eastern bloc – Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Yugoslavia. 1981 is also a period marked by the Cold War and the political and military tensions between the East and the West. Therefore, for an artist from a country whose territory is determined by nature, coming to Europe presents a moment of confrontation with the phenomenon of borders as artificial political creations. Travelling through the border areas of Austria, Furuya documents the locations where life works according to its own rules and rhythm. Black and white photographs of rest points, belvederes and crossroads, with numerous melancholic landscapes are accompanied by notes gathered during his travels and in the process of getting to know the local Austrian population. Although they seem romantic at first glance, the locations in Furuya’s photographs are marked with tragic events and, according to the author, reveal the silence of sad facts.
Seiichi Furuya was born in Japan in 1950. After graduating at the Tokyo Polytechnic University, he started travelling through Europe. In Graz he met Christine Gössler, who will remain a great inspiration even after her tragic death in 1985. Since 1975 Furuya has displayed his works in numerous exhibitions in Japan and abroad, places such as: Forum Stadtpark (Graz, Austria), Museum Winterthur (Switzerland), Albertina Museum (Vienna, Austria), Vangi Garden Sculpture Museum (Mishima, Japan). He has published several photo books starting with his Mémoires 1978-1988 (Camera Austria, 1989) and continuing with Mémoires 1995 (Scalo Books, 1995), Christine Furuya-Gössler, Mémoires 1978-1985 (Korinsha Press, 1997), Portrait (Fotohof, 2000) and many others.
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