BENJAMIN BIRD

Ben Bird is an English born artist, graduating from UCA Rochester with a BA in Photography and is currently on a Master programme at the Royal College of Art, London. Through historical and political elements his work is focused on man made structures and the built environment. Currently he is exploring the use of images in gentrification and housing developments in central London. Ben is also a trustee of the Rebecca Vassie Trust, a UK based charitable organisation supporting the art of long-form narrative photography, and promoting education in photography for both emerging professionals and the broader public.

Run to the waters edge

Schengen is a small village in Luxembourg; it is more widely known for the European agreement that is named after it. The 1985 Schengen agreement (later the Schengen convention) was a cornerstone of the then European Economic Community, and underpins the European Unions political and economic foundation. Its main focus is on free movement of people and the dissolving of internal border controls for the majority of EU member states.

The village lies on the banks of the Moselle river where the agreement was signed on a boat by representatives of France, Germany and the Benelux states. It’s also the meeting place of three land borders (or a tripoint) of Luxembourg, Germany and France.

In the past, this region has seen territory switching control from one country to another. An example of this being Saarland, the German federal state bordering this part of Luxembourg. Saarland has been an independent state, controlled by France and a part of Germany in just half of the 20th century. The area, rich in coal and steel, was of huge significance to the EU’s founding ideology and its predecessor, the European Coal and Steel Community.

Recently, increasing pressure has been put on the European Union, its member states and the ideas it fosters. This has manifested in the UK decision to leave the EU, the turmoil caused by the dubbed Brexit, a rise of discontent citizens, growing populist or radical politics, the pressing issue of refugees from the Middle East arriving on Europe’s shores resulting in a temporary suspension of Schengen and reinstating of border controls by some states, terrorism, and countries like Greece trying to recover from financial crisis.

‘Run to the waters edge’ was made moving around this symbolic location of the European Union’s political project. A project that is seemingly now at a crossroads. The spectre of failure could now lurk over the EU, with a turbulent presence and an unclear future ahead of it.

To view more of Benjamin’s work, visit his website.