Europe appears as a great vision that is difficult to comprehend in an abstract or individual way. Places that once testified to Europe’s cultural and economic growth present themselves today as sites of soullessness in a bleak ‘concrete aesthetic’ that are characterised by cultural absence. The imaginary ideals of politics, advertising, and propaganda have lost their substance.
Manuel Schroeder photographs such places in Eastern Europe and Germany. With a flair for details, his ostensibly documentary style captures the social realities in a narrative, undogmatic, systematic manner. The photographs juxtapose the parallel worlds of Latvia’s post-socialist housing estates with Germany’s urban housing projects. Against the background of such large-scale architecture, a human being can seem insignificant and lost. But our basic need for culture turns out to be an effective agent of change: individual arrangements and improvised creations break through the dreariness of the given order. Europe is a construction site – without beginning, without end.