2018 — Austria
About this series
Novel of Youth (2018) is a series of self-staged photographs that recount stories of the artist’s home region near the Austro-Hungarian border in Burgenland, Austria. Behind the seemingly tranquil landscapes lie loaded narratives of fear, loss and change of environment.
Throughout the second half of the 20th century, the towns on Western Europe’s borders have seen a recurring influx of migrants and refugees escaping war and conflict to settle there. These conflicts include the Hungarian Revolution of October 1956, the civil war in former Yugoslavia in 1992 and the current conflicts in the Middle East that have been taking place for several years now. Contemplating these events, Spiegelfeld becomes aware of processes and politics that seem to have been repeating themselves over the last centuries. Novel of Youth is the artist’s attempt to look into the meaning of country borders and the environment surrounding them, as seen from a young adult’s perspective growing up.
Her curiosity about the views of local residents—some of them also former refugees—on their environment in light of the todays refugee crises in the context of the political situation in Austria and Hungary, led her to interview border supervision workers including police and army personnel, as well as workers commuting daily from Hungary to Austria. In light of the closing of Austria’s borders in 2016 after twelve years of remaining open, Spiegelfeld’s project attempts to showcase western European polarization of opinions regarding refugees and their place in Europe.
Heavily influenced by the death of her father in 2016, Spiegelfeld began a journey to examine her innermost fears and doubts, interpreting her dreams photographically. The artist views this project as a posing of questions that she would have asked her father, but which she now endeavours to answer herself through her photographs, taking Novel of Youth as the first chapter of what she considers to be her life project.
Photographer: Charlotte Spiegelfeld
Based in: Berlin, Germany
Born in Vienna, Austria, Charlotte Spiegelfeld was raised in the countryside of eastern Austria, close to the Hungarian border. Working predominantly with analogue film, her practice is centered on the theme of portraits, reflecting her interest in friends groups, workers and families.
A recent graduate of the Lette Verein in Berlin specializing in photography, she has exhibited her photographs around Berlin, Madrid and currently in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Novel of Youth (2019) – 22 inkjet prints on Hahnemühle Baryta paper – and one moving image (2 mns 22) is currently exhibited in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, at “Al Obour”.