Softcover with flap and Japanese fold.
Image fragments passing by, contrasting the presence of humans with their physical surroundings. Clusters of film grain unveiling golden crosses, a burned-out car, a girl’s smiling face. Glory, destruction, hope! The train window becomes the stage. My journey, which took me from Ukraine to Oslo through present-day Europe, is inspired by train journeys taken by my relatives in 1945 and 1978, journeys that led to death or freedom.
Back in 1945, my grandfather disappeared from Gliwice in Upper Silesia along with countless other men. They were taken by train to a working camp in Ukraine. His grave is unknown and all that remains is a small diary he wrote throughout his deportation.
In 1978, following a lengthy existential struggle and forced political unemployment, my father left Gliwice with his family to start a new life in West Germany. I understood that my family’s lives had been considerably influenced by forced immigration, and that trains had played a significant role in the process of resettlement. I began to respect the “forced” journeys of my family members while at the same time documenting my own.
In the end, I embarked on three journeys. First the physical journey, holding my 35mm camera to my eye for hours on end. This led to the second journey into my developed films, where I started to extract human presence, confronting my findings and contrasting them on the page. The final journey led me into the virtual world, mapping the train tracks kilometre by kilometre. The sequence is strictly dictated by the chronology of the journey.
As the trigger for this cathartic journey, Ukraine felt like the natural place to start the book. Texts based on the journeys of each family member complement the image sequence and help solve the puzzle. At this point in all three journeys, each family member turned 45.
It seems Europe has healed its wounds after the Second World War. Countries were rebuilt, new societies developed. But a feeling of shame was passed on from generation to generation, influencing our everyday lives and decisions. Eight months after I returned from my journey, a new conflict erupted in the Donetsk region, leading to an ongoing war. (Damian Heinisch)
Size: 23 x 28 cm (approx.)