"My Invented Country" statement and new work
For the first seven years of my life, I lived with my family in various towns throughout Germany. Life, at that age, seemed simple. I spent most of my time outdoors, forming who I was through basic interactions with my natural surroundings. It was ingrained in me that nature was a source of nourishment, both on an educational as well as a dietary level. Everyday life was planned around the “Spaziergang”, or “walkabout” when translated directly. This everyday ritual of navigating the many trails that cut through the German interior and the many neighboring European countries is still an important part of how Germans spend their free time.
In the late 1980s, my family was relocated, first tentatively and then indefinitely, to the United States where my interactions with my natural surroundings were decreased by the use of the automobile. Nature was then revealed to me not through the use of my own senses, but through the cathode ray tube of our television set. With age came life’s turbulent and hectic agendas that are endorsed by American society, and taking the time to experience nature was put on hold for me.
Now, I long to regain the appreciation I once had in my childhood for the natural landscape that surrounds me. In essence I am metaphorically reborn into an environment that is foreign to me, not just the American southeastern landscape locally, but also the experience of nature on the continent where I have lived the last eighteen years. What I am trying to achieve in my photographic work is to capture the essence of my first true encounters and experiences with this landscape. My images are performances, in the likes of fellow countrymen Dieter Appelt and Joseph Beuys, created in response to my encounters. They reference, much like Appelts work, cycles of life and death and the experience of existence. It is through this work that I am not only reconnecting with the natural world around me, but also, as Isabel Allende does in her memoir of the same title, reinventing it as the country I now call home.
- Jeremias Paul
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"My Invented Country"