There are many definitions of the Balkans: There are those who regard them as the interface between the Orient and the Occident. There are others who regard them as a historical region, which is characterised by its ethnic and religious variety and changing affiliations to various empires, among them Byzantium, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire.
The photographer Harald Schmidt also found out that the image of the Balkans in our minds is strongly influenced by stereotypes. In 2015, he therefore decided to get to the bottom of his own preconceptions of South-East Europe and to document this venture photographically. A total of six times, he travelled across the Balkans together with his wife Annette in order to get acquainted with the countries and their people.
"Facing the Balkans" is an invitation to follow Harald Schmitt on his journey through South-East Europe. The exhibition takes the visitors from Slovenia in the north to Albania in the south, from Croatia in the west to Moldova in the east. Eight sections show the topics the photographer took a particular interest in. The digital edition is complemented by audio commentaries of the photographer on selected images (available shortly).
The images on display are characterised by Schmitt’s self-concept as a photo reporter. For more than three decades, he worked for the journal STERN; among other things, he spent six years as accredited correspondent in the German Democratic Republic. During the 1980s and 1990s, he travelled to the countries of Eastern Europe several times, in order to document the historical changes taking place there, such as the Velvet Revolution of 1989 in Czechoslovakia or the August Putsch of 1991 in Russia. He won the World Press Photo Award, the most important award in the field of press photography, six times for his work.
Virtual exhibition (in German)
Facing the Balkans. South-East Europe in photographs by Harald Schmitt