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Broken Ground — Portugal and Turkey

Hannah Geddes

Splash and Grab Magazine, 2015

A moment of transition in the lives of the young people of a border town, poised on the border of adulthood

Portugal and Turkey - two countries two thousand miles apart - have been chosen by Ana Catarina Pinho to co-exist in the blurred reality of Broken Ground. Two decaying landscapes with harsh, repressive architectures are transformed into the context of Pinho's evocation of a single border town. Pinho, who is interested in the edges of the suburbs of these two countries, has created a mythic topography, one that combines common features of two peripheral communities. This arbitrary juxtaposition articulates her philosophy that "photography is a representation of our imagination, our interpretation and points of view about the world." We are confronted by existence that has been shaped by the common factors of life lived on the edge, two communities residing on a borderline. Signs that distinguish the two countries —clothes, language scripts and other cultural signifiers — are not revealed and therefore take no part in the connotation. For the people in these towns the entropic nature of this environment is not, as it is for us, alien. Along with the natural world that threatens to invade these images, the people endure. Broken Ground is an exploration of the relationship between humans and the spaces they occupy, the contradiction this reveals.

Pinho embarked in Broken Ground in 2010. She looked at the city landscape, in particular "the suburbs and the dynamics between space and their inhabitants." This brought her to the peripheries of towns in Turkey and Portugal, which she photographed over a number of years until she felt the project was complete. Broken Ground invites us to observe the uniformity of the natura world. The decaying dollar bill in Pinho's photograph hints at the lack of promise in this landscape. The subjects in Broken Ground are often isolated within their frame of reference. Some look haunted, others lonely, desperate. The images capture a moment of transition in the lives of the young people of a border town, poised on the border of adulthood. A boy sits on a decaying wall looking out over the desolate landscape. Is my time here over? Another young boy is sitting in a car. Will I ever escape? Look into the faces of the children. See the poignant but unsentimental expression of resistance. Will the wild life engulfing the harsh architecture prove stronger than the strength and resilience of these children? Broken Ground leaves us wondering wether they will join the exodus from small towns to large cities.


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