There is a part of the EU in South America: Guiana is a French territory that uses the Euro and sits 7,000 kilometres away from the continent. Ariane Pfannschmidt (1984, Germany) photographed the people and places in this last vestige of French colonialism, in order to discover a new side of European identity and question what defines it. The images couldn’t look much more different from France: tropical colours and wild, exotic animals are the norm here. Honest, sometimes solemn portraits of the residents focus on the poverty they suffer, controlled and almost extorted by the French rocket-launching site in the country. Pfannschmidt uses this contrast to highlight the hypocritical nature of some Europeans, “while we protect our borders from ‘cultural invaders’ today, we seem to forget our own invasions throughout history.” The series also makes the viewer question whether identity can be characterised by a common cultural heritage, or if it is still possible to define by borders.
Ariane Pfannschmidt was one of the 38 photographers selected for the shortlist of GUP#47, our 10th anniversary issue, for which an Open Call was held.