Paris and Berlin as scenarios. The Europeans, their work and their days. Their here and now. Places saved from the shroud of the symbolic by the duel between life and the echoes of history. Remnants of a past under construction, and its future. Promises. Hardships. Things of beauty. Persons and personalities. Everything finds space in these pages. And for those who know how to look, what is found there, is. Europe, so often elevated by the pen to the altars of art and Utopia, so often cast into the abyss by the works of gold and the sword, so often reduced to a picture postcard by the blind flash of the passer-by, demands to be seen as she is. With fresh eyes that distance her from pedestals and panoplies, apprehend her varied facets, rescue her from fame to finally re-read her on the human scale. “Photography is the means to show the world exactly as it is,” says Alberto Schommer. And he places his camera at the service of that mission to provide the reader with an intelligent gaze on the now of Europe.
He chooses two cities, and shows us signs in their neighborhoods that belong to the whole of this land. For the truth, what really matters is that there is Madrid in Paris and Athens in Berlin. The union is alive and exists on planes far deeper than treaties. In the mind of a traveler – the exact opposite of a tourist in Hegelian terms – Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht proposes a lucid and loving journey through the culture, the now and always of a Europe experienced in movement, with no real frontiers. A diachronic and beautiful Europe, rational and visceral, critical and passionate. The sum of both itineraries produces a very European snapshot of the soul of the Union, as close to lived experience as it is removed from the cliché of the album; Europe with its light and shadows, its certainties and paradoxes. Sublime words and images that we wished to put on paper as a singular expression of the BBVA Foundation’s active commitment to the freedom of the creative act, to social and economic development, and to the present and future of society.