SECOND HOME: The grand finale

Article published on April 14, 2014
Article published on April 14, 2014

For two years Cafébabel Berlin was in­volved with the "Sec­ond Home" pro­ject, which is now com­ing to a close. The photo com­pe­ti­tion and ex­hi­bi­tion, which were in both the be­ta­haus and the Cen­tre Marc Bloch, re­volved around the sto­ries of young Eu­ro­peans who try to find a new home in the face of the eco­nomic cri­sis. But this was done through pic­tures rather than text.

Every­thing at the panel dis­cus­sion at the french re­search cen­ter Cen­tre Marc Bloch on April 10, 2014 re­volved around the pho­tog­ra­pher Jean-Paul Pas­tor Guzmán, the win­ner of the Sec­ond Home photo com­pe­ti­tion. At length he ex­plains how his pic­tures came to be and how he gath­ered the sto­ries of these dif­fer­ent peo­ple, all of whom live in limbo be­tween their na­tive and new homes.

Most of the au­di­ence mem­bers at Cen­tre Marc Bloch are young peo­ple who find them­selves in their sec­ond home: young Eu­ro­peans who study, con­duct re­search or live in Berlin. Among them is the Ger­man Elena Tropartz, who grew up in Greece and who also con­tributed a pho­to­graph to the ex­hi­bi­tion. She ex­plains that she car­ries a sense of "home" within her­self, since nei­ther of her two homes are en­tirely fa­mil­iar to her - but all the same they aren't for­eign ei­ther. What she con­sid­ers home isn't a spe­cific domi­cile, but rather what is bound to her as a human being. 

From Mi­grant work­ers to a wel­com­ing cul­ture

Re­searchers, stu­dents and in­terns crowd the con­fer­ence room of the Cen­tre Marc Bloch, whose win­dows one can peer through to get a view of Friedrich­straße. The lo­ca­tion turns out to be a good choice, given that the au­di­ence not only at­ten­tively lis­tens, but is also in­te­grated into the dis­cus­sion. But the de­bate be­comes swiftly heated the mo­ment the focus shifts from the pho­tos them­selves to the in­flu­ence that mi­grants have on Ger­man so­ci­ety. The French so­ci­ol­gist In­grid Tucci de­scribes the shift in men­tal­ity within Ger­man in­sti­tu­tions: whereas mi­grant work­ers were re­ceived with an un­emo­tional cold­ness dur­ing the eco­nomic boom, they are now in­te­grated in a pleas­ant "wel­com­ing cul­ture" which sees migrants as a remedy for the negative effects of demographic transformations on German society. How­ever, In­grid Tucci crit­i­cizes many of the in­te­gra­tion meth­ods, which still don't en­able young mi­grants - often highly qual­i­fied - to find ad­e­quate em­ploy­ment. Ac­cord­ing to Tucci this is a fail­ure of the sys­tem that leads to frus­tra­tion and unmet ex­pec­ta­tions. 

But how did Sec­ond Home mi­grate to the Cen­tre Marc Bloch? It all began in 2012 in Brus­sels dur­ing the Babel Acad­emy, one of the yearly as­sem­blies of the local Cafébabel ed­i­to­r­ial teams. That's where the idea for a re­portage se­ries was born, in which the sto­ries are col­lected of young Eu­ro­pean work­ers who flee their homes in search of em­ploy­ment. What did they dis­cover? How high was the price? What did they leave be­hind and what did they gain? The pro­ject was a joint ef­fort of the local ed­i­to­r­ial teams from Berlin, Vi­enna, Bu­dapest, Bel­grade, War­saw and Naples. Months of co­or­di­na­tion, re­search, in­ter­views and travel fol­lowed, all in the search for sto­ries that de­pict an en­tire gen­er­a­tion at a glance. In au­tumn 203, "Sec­ond Home" was be pre­sented with the Eu­ropa der Bürger prize by the Ger­man weekly Der Fre­itag: the jury es­pe­cially lauded the ef­forts of the pro­ject to cre­ate a com­mon Eu­ro­pean pub­lic.

"My home lies within me"

Thanks to the prize money, the ed­i­tors of Cafébabel Berlin were able to ten­der a photo com­pe­ti­tion with the goal of telling the sto­ries of the new-home seek­ers not only in text, but also through pho­tographs. Win­ner of this Sec­ond Home Pho­tog­ra­phy Con­test is the Ger­man-Chilean  pho­tog­ra­pher Jean-Paul Pas­tor Guzmán who ex­plains in depth at the podium of the Cen­tre Marc Bloch, how his pho­tographs came into being. At first there were just ab­stract sta­tis­tics of mi­gra­tion move­ments in Eu­rope, which he wanted to put into per­spec­tive through the faces of ac­tual mi­grants. The search for mod­els in lan­guage schools, on the street, through the in­ter­net  and in his cir­cle of friends was not easy. But in the end he found ten young Greeks, Ital­iens and Spaniards, all of whom al­lowed their por­traits to be taken for the photo pro­ject hello cri­sis! (2013).

Many of them would prob­a­bly agree with Elena Tropartz when she un­der­scores the fact that she car­ries her home with her wher­ever she goes. While in limbo be­tween dif­fer­ent phases of life, in space and time, be­tween dif­fer­ent in­ter­wo­ven cul­tures, the search for a point of ori­gin, the search for a home often leads within. But even that's con­sid­ered fluid by the sons and daugh­ters of per­pet­ual mo­tion. In light of such in-depth dis­cus­sions, the pho­to­graphic ex­am­i­na­tion of the topic "home" might even be su­pe­rior to other types of artis­tic and in­tel­lec­tual re­flec­tions: ut­li­mately, the feel­ing of "home" can best be seen in fa­cial ex­pres­sions.