Ocean Europe, 2016. Photographic series: 50 prints on photographic paper, 200 x 120 cm.
Ocean Europe is a camera-less conceptual photo project, where the initial images were taken from the internet, subsequently computer-manipulated and finally printed on photographic paper after undergoing a traditional chemical-based photography development process. Through this conceptual journey and technical translation between different types of visual forms, digital images of European flags turn into a series of monochrome photographs. Each monochrome is the average colour of all the colours represented in the original flag. In this way the artist strips the flag of all its symbolic value, turning it into a pure colour expression.
Conceptually the artist wanted to contrast the constructed feeling of national belonging (on the one side) and the universal feeling of belonging to the world (on the other). For the latter, he was inspired by a psychological phenomenon called oceanic feeling, which describes a brief but strong experience, where an individual feels limitlessness and oneness with his/her surroundings. In the rush of this intense experience, all existential boundaries of subjectivity disappear along with concerns for the last and the final. It is a moment of spiritual sublimity emerged as a product of triumphal experience of eternity. Ocean Europe is an artistic speculation of how oceanic feeling could transform an individual’s socially predetermined forms of integrity.
It is evident that Ocean Europe also contains an artistic questioning of the role of the nation state in relation to the individual. The somewhat poetic, nihilistic act of transforming national symbols into pure colours could be seen as an anti-authoritarian project criticising the very notion of state and thus as a subtle way of re-opening a discussion of the role of anarchism in contemporary society.
The artist says: “In a time of crisis, when stratification of society is accompanied by decadence manifested through media and consumerism, where xenophobia and Islamophobia are in no way marginal phenomena, but active elements in the political mainstream, the flags are nothing more than primitive objects for accumulation of national feelings, and as such used by the elite as a source of narrow-minded and primitive attitudes on a far wider and more complex world that surrounds us, and which we are an indispensable part of”.