What can hold things together and forge intersections in universes as different as the ones gathered in these pages, if it is not that they address a few aspects of our common condition that is increasingly shaped by the current path of globalization? The opening of borders in the contemporary era, inaugurated by the fall of the Berlin Wall and the uniting of the two Germanies – which Wim Wenders portrayed as a sort of re-enchanted day – is still fragile, as we can see in the reactions to today’s wave of migrants flooding into Europe and the recent attacks in Paris. We are forced to admit that internationalization involves, first and foremost, creating the conditions for new markets and new classes of consumers every- where on Earth. This relative opening of borders also makes us more and more curious about the realities of others and allows us to see the growing convergences that planetary urbanization imposes on our ways of life.
Near You No Cold, a recent series of works produced during Raymonde April’s multiple stays in Mumbai, India, testifies, in its way, to this fact. Beyond the foreignness and first-glance exoticism of a culture, a location, and a people with foundations radically different from hers, April, recognized for her sensitivity to those around her and to the poetry of the everyday, was able to find enough shared humanity within which to make a natural place for her quest for moments and encounters that transcend daily routine.
In his series The Future is Ours, Classroom Portraits, Julian Germain looks at another side of our universality: that of the education of young people and transmission of knowledge. In his group portraits of students in their classrooms on several continents, Germain condenses in a single spatial unit all the similarities and variations of modes of education. The classroom, shown in all of its forms, becomes a space in which today’s aspirations to universality are confronted with the values and means specific to each culture.
Carpoolers, by Alejandro Cartagena, shows one facet of a reality shared by many people: the burden of the daily commute to work in constantly expanding cities. Cartagena’s photographs present, in a way, full-length portraits of labourers, as they make the daily round trip, stretched out in the back of pickup trucks, between where they live and their workplaces. This form of car- pooling, which is dangerous and therefore illegal, is a daily practice for many workers, for whom the trip to and from their job takes several hours. [Translated by Käthe Roth]