By Stephen Barber
Extreme Europe explores the city extremes of Europe of their cultural, actual, geographical and legendary dimensions, contemplating the background and visible tradition of Europe within the decade after the autumn of the Berlin Wall. Barber's objective is to envision Europe's towns and their surrounding components as websites of a clash among the enthralling, all-engulfing strength of visible media and the hardly surviving lines of tenacious historic tradition; his premise is that the "breakdown zones" at Europe's city edges are the websites the place its oppositional and most crucial photos and languages are being created today.
Barber units out to discover and outline Europe's political and conceptual edges, first creating a circuit eastwards via Albania to Turkey, then south- and westwards alongside the Mediterranean coast, with stops in Crete and Marseille. The book's different sections flow, first, via a number of many years of heritage as they are often learn in either the surviving and the remodeled materials of Berlin, and, ultimately, in the course of the frayed, disaffected multicultural landscapes of Paris's outer suburbs.
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Extra info for Extreme Europe
The sky and the ocean were gaining ground, dismissing the last, blighted traces of humanity. Along the coast, at the Cabo da Roca, Europe at its western-most extreme faces out to the Atlantic. Immense cliffs rise deliriously over the sea, and the land mass of Europe forms a vast harshness that finally gives out, in elation, with a sudden fall. To arrive back at your point of origin in Europe, to close the journey around its edges, requires obstinate determination. When the journey locks north, on its final stretch, the mind goes numb and aims, as though in panic or by caprice, to head in any other direction, to try to burst open a permanent sensory liberation in either the act of travel or the matter of Europe.
Down towards a barely running stream, the ancient plane tree – beneath which the first great sexual act in the existence of Europe was asserted to have taken place – stood half-heartedly cordoned off within a boundary of low fencing. Europe, at the core, is a contrary matter of dust and semen, its southern perimeters marked out fluidly by narratives and myths of lust and death. Every story of its origins is finally as bogus as it is intricate – a sequence of delusional fabrications about how a contested entity established its authority – but any such story of sensorial impact is worth more than a multiplicity of void images.
Marseilles has been dubbed ‘the dustbin of Europe’, as though the function of the river Rhône were to pick up all the massed detritus of Europe from a central point of collection in Switzerland and transport it directly to that abject terminus. Inversely, the inhabitants of the city itself wear t-shirts declaring themselves ‘Proud to be from Marseilles’. On the quayside of the Old Port, a plaque grandly ascribes to Marseilles the status of being the originating site from which all western European civilization developed, that origin calculated arbitrarily as the arrival of the city’s Phocaean settlers.