Joakim Kocjancic


About the Project

“Europea” is a photo project about cities in Europe. The idea behind this project is to show that there is a common cultural ground for Europe and European cities.

From 2000 to 2016 I have visited or lived in: Stockholm, Paris, Amsterdam, London, Dublin, Milan, Venice, Rome, Palermo, Lisbon, Kiev, Berlin, Barcelona, ​​Madrid, London, Genoa, Antwerp, Arles, Brussels and Naples.

Through a strong black white graphic language, many years of travel and a rich mix of images, I create a personal vision of the old continent. 

Wandering the streets looking for the unusual in the everyday life, a kind of street-straight photography, photographing what’s in front of me, a fast answer to the sea of impressions that we receive all the time living in a city.

It becomes like a single big European city where the national borders disappear and where the focus remains on the human condition. The photos are atmospheric and dynamic, they are a result of my identity searching through Europe: I’m half Swedish and half Italian with a Slovenian last name, I lived in Italy, Spain, Ireland, England and Sweden, so I consider myself as European. I actually can relate more to an idea of being European than of only one specific country.

The photographs are clearly a picture of reality, but at the same time a reflection of my feelings and ideas. This is my Europe, my vision of a possible European identity, a travelogue through the capitals, with dreams and nightmares, suspended in time with symbols of our times, a psychological state searching for existential questions.

Europea is a hymn to all great cultural ideas that Europe represents, the secular humanism and ”the sense of tragic vulnerability of human condition”. (George Steiner ”The idea of Europe”)

If I receive this grant I would continue photographing a few more cities in the eastern part of Europe like: Warsaw, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Athens. After the summer 2020 I would continue working with the Swedish graphic designers la Strada Studio with whom I’ve already prepared the layout of the book Europea.

I hope you can see the quality and the depth of this work.

All the work is analogue and in black and white, using 35mm film that I like for the filmic qualities: the sequences, the repetition and the spontaneous flow by taking more images. My projects are long term projects, it takes years to take all the photographs to then select them, print them in various ways to reach at the end a final result that is like an essence of the work. I do all the work by myself from developing the films, to printing and selecting the images.

Here below an excerpt from Swedish writer Ulf Peter Hallberg:

   “I ask Joakim Kocjancic in a letter why black and white analogue photography is so important to him, and how the camera actually influences him. He answers: ”Black and white is easier to comprehend than colour. It’s a simplification of reality, but also another language – like a parallel world. The camera is my comrade, my companion. Through the camera I have a dialogue between my feelings and my ideas about reality. With this instrument I can sometimes put the world in order and see what belongs together. I’m constructing a fictional world that symbolizes something strong for me, with components taken from reality. But these are thoughts in retrospect, when I look at my contact sheets or work in the darkroom. The important part of the camera work is to be out there in the streets of Europe at a specific moment, without any other thought than to be precisely at that spot, to stop time and to capture the situation or save that specific human being.”  

   We learn, that there’s not only a flâneur at work in Joakim Kocjancic, but also – as was the case with my own father – a collector. Walter Benjamin commented most beautifully on the collector’s passion: ”For the collector the world is present – even orderly arranged – in each and every item.” It could be that these words connect strongly to every photographer’s struggle

   In one of his letters Joakim Kocjancic tells me his favourite book is Fernando Pessoa’s The Book of Disquiet, which makes us twin souls. He then goes on about books he’s read and insights they brought. Then, at the end, he exclaims: ”The day after tomorrow, I’m heading for Paris, wonderful! It’s gonna rain, but it doesn’t matter.”

   I adore the fact that just like the French poets he still sympathizes with and gets inspiration from the rain.

   It’s like the photographer is always leaving to get closer somewhere else, in Joakim Kocjancic’s case both to the dreams and the disquiet of Europe”.