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Italienische Reise

Italy is in turmoil. Its economic problems are symptomatic of the current crisis in the Eurozone and need to be addressed, urgently. But part of the solution needs to come from the political establishment which is very much part of the problem. On the list of the world's most corrupt countries, Italy is on 67th place after such questionable candidates as Macedonia, Ghana, Samoa and Rwanda.

In the spring of 2011, Chris Keulen went to Italy on the trail of Goethe's Italienische Reise, a report on his travels to Italy in the years 178687. In contrast with the Arcadian landscape of Goethe, Keulen's photographs give us a completely different association with the country of two centuries ago. Keulen's Italienische Reise is a sort of distopian road trip.

The steps of the church remind us of the final scene of The Godfather III in which the Corleones are caught in the line of fire and where Mary dies in a hail of bullets. The soundless cry of Don Michael is turned to stone in the rocks on the beach. The photographs can be seen as a harbinger of impending doom where nothing is what it seems to be.

The old men in their suits and caps have lost their innocence. The images from the beach give us a mixed feeling. The relaxed sunbathers face hidden dangers. The old woman in traditional clothing against a backdrop of graffiti invokes the emptiness of modern society. In Keulen's Italy, a red Ferrari is placed on a plinth and women display the telling signs of botox treatment. It's a gloomy operetta, offering only the thinnest veneer of daily life.

Keulen started his Italienische Reise with his Leica but soon decided to switch to his iphone. He believes that it is best to document popular meeting points like parking lots, beaches, church yards, harbours and shopping streets with the most basic equipment. In addition to this, taking pictures has become an instinctive activity these days - a 'natural' form of behaviour at points where people meet and play with their telephones.

Chris Keulen's Italian Journey continues in the autumn of 2011 with a trip to Venice.
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