1987-2009 — Eastern Europe
About this series
In December 1987 I set off for Istanbul. It was to be the first of a hundred trips to the east. I began to explore the other Europe, mysterious and unknown to me, from Bucharest to St. Petersburg, from Prague to Moscow. A territory marked by the violence of its history and populated by peoples of ancient lineage.
For twenty two years I travelled back and forth over the countries of the east with my old red Volkswagen, taking photographs in the Islamic communities of the Balkans, in the villages of Transylvania and Buchovina, of orthodox pilgrimages in Romania and Catholic pilgrimages in Poland, among the Lipovens in the delta of the Danube, in Crimea, in the Albanian mountains, in the former Yugoslavia destroyed by the war and in Romania in revolt, in the streets of Bucharest, Warsaw, Tirana and Belgrade. I made a long journey through the bowels of the continent, searching out the European unconscious.
Photographer: Fabio Ponzio
Based in: Italy
Fabio Ponzio was born in Milan in 1959.
His interest in photography began in 1976, during a trip to the Balkans.
Europe, travel, photography, were to form the three main threads of life in the years to come.
In 1977 he made his first photographic journey across northern Europe, travelling on a scooter.
Between 1977 and 1980 Ponzio continued his travels in Germany and Great Britain.
He worked for the Italian and international press from 1980 to 1987, and also founded two photojournalism agencies.
In 1987, returning from a trip to Istanbul he made the decision to embark on a lengthy photographic project in search of the other Europe, eastern Europe.
He set out on a series of journeys to Poland, Czechoslovakia,Hungary, the Ukraine, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Yugoslavia and Albania.
In 1989 he was in the East to document the fall of the communist regimes.
In 1991 he was awarded the ‘European Kodak Award’ in Arles, France, in 1993 the ‘Mother Jones Foundation Award for documentary Photography’ in the United States, and in 1998 the ‘Oskar Barnack Award’ in Germany.
In 2003 Ponzio travelled to Georgia. Thus began a series of trips to the southern Caucasus. In the rough and desolate lands of Georgia and Armenia he encountered the furthest reaches of the European continent, where the ideals, traditions and aesthetic codes of Europe meet and merge with those of Asia.
In 2007 he was commissioned by MAXXI (Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI secolo) in Rome to document the Italian landscape. This project gave rise to a series of travels in Western Europe in 2008, in search of the identity of a new continent.