Finalist 2017: Ekaterina Sevrouk
Ekaterina Sevrouk draws on German Romanticism for the landscape images that make up her ‘Fremd bin ich eingezogen’ (As a stranger I arrived) series. While composed of mountains, lakes and wooded areas that are reminiscent of their romantic inspiration, they differ in a decisive factor: all the protagonists in the scenes are young, African men.
For the ‘Fremd bin ich eingezogen’ series started in 2015, the photographer used traditional landscape motifs taken in the surroundings of Salzburg and the Salzkammergut. Sevrouk developed the concrete ideas for the images in collaboration with African asylum seekers, whom she first met in a so-called first reception centre in Salzkammergut. The title for the now completed series was taken from Franz Schubert’s ‘Winterreise’ (Winter Journey) song cycle. The poems by Wilhelm Müller, that form the basis of Schubert’s songs about a melancholic traveller, alternate between exuberant joy and hopeless despair, societal isolation and individual longing.
“My efforts as a photographer are directed at using my artistic means of expression to create aesthetically demanding pictures, that reach out beyond daily politics and purely documentary photography.”
In the quiet compositions, where the young Africans appear self-confidently in landscapes foreign to them, the photographer has created tellingly symbolic pictures, that pick up on both the sense of self of the protagonists, while also admonishing the world’s current, political situation. Consequently, Sevrouk’s series represents a very timely, if somewhat ethereal, sequel to ‘Winterreise’.
Each of those portrayed has his own life story, his own unique experience of fleeing, migration and the desire for asylum in Europe. The aesthetic style Sevrouk has chosen reveals the respect and dignity with which the she relates to these people, while the landscapes convey the appropriate framework, reflecting a transitory state between staged and real, that very consciously removes those portrayed from their difficult everyday situation. The more the viewer tries to interpret the images, the more additional questions arise.
Sevrouk was born in Moscow in 1975 and lived in Vienna and St. Gilgen, Austria, from 2010 to 2015. She has been studying at the Neue Schule für Fotografie in Berlin since 2015. Over the last few years, she has been involved in various exhibition projects with her ‘Fremd bin ich eingezogen’ series, including among others: ‘In Between’, at the Neue Schule für Fotografie, Berlin 2016; ‘Alles in schönster Ordnung’ (Everything’s very fine), within the framework of the European Month of Photography, Berlin 2016; ‘ÖsterreichBilder. Facing Austria’, Salzburg Museum 2017. Ekaterina Sevrouk lives and works in Berlin and Austria.