Travelling to Mineo, Italy, this young German photographer shot a soft yet confronting story on asylum seekers. Using his camera to highlight the current refugee situation, Julian Mährlein believes the only way to live in this complex world is to base your choices on respect and friendship as opposed to fear and division.
How would you describe your work in one short phrase?
An attempt to find new visual ways of representing current social and political themes.
Would you describe your work as political?
Yes, due to the nature of the themes that I am interested in, I would say it is political. However, I also believe that all imagery that lives in the public sphere, whether intended or not, holds a certain political power.
What do borders mean to you?
I feel lucky and privileged to have grown up and been able to live without having to feel overly limited or threatened by them. Having a northern European passport still seems to solve most issues concerning border controls and does hold a certain degree of security.
How much do you think you are affected by Border Politics (and anything that comes under it) in daily life?
In a very practical way they only affect my life in minor ways. Due to the current political situation in Europe my awareness for borders, their rigidness and their way to frame human lives is heightened and serves as a daily reminder that in the current political system, some lives are valued more than others.
Does cultural identity have an impact on your work?
Cultural identity—more than anything—determines our perspective on the world. I think it will therefore always influence my interests and the selection of themes that I work with.
What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
I think it is interesting and important to not only think about borders in physical terms but to also see their psychological value; their affect on our perception of the ‘other’ and our imagination of the unknown. The current rise of nationalism in Europe is not only strengthening the passport controls at the airport, but also strives to limit our ability to imagine each other in a world in which people are connected. My hope for the future is that people realize, on a deep human level, that the only way to live in this complex world is based on respect and friendship opposed to fear and division.