A land without past

Philipp Ebeling's first self-published photo book, Land without past, is curiously produced, wrapped in a black front cover. Photo corners are carefully positioned on the front cover, demarcating where a photograph should be.
Returning to his home town of Mellendorf, north Germany, after having moved to London in 2008, Ebeling realised the true extent to which he had become disconnected from his origins. Ebeling was just 19 when he left for England, leaving behind the friendships and places that defined him. Nowadays it could be argued that the impact of upping sticks and moving away is not as dramatic with the use of social media enabling people to remain closely connected. His 80 page monograph attempts to define the notion of home and identity. It would be interesting to see if he will follow this up with a comparison to his new 'home' in London.
Not only does Ebeling address the struggle between his own lost pass and village life, but also the nation's attempt to hide away the disgrace of the war years. Just like the front cover of Land without past, many German photo albums ignored the events of World War Two. Like many photo albums, they only documented the people, places and events that anyone would want to remember. These photographic gaps mirrored the spaces of time that Ebeling was absent from his homeland. By tackling this feature head on, he is attempting to bridge the gap between then and now. Unlike Cosmopolis Toronto, Ebeling's monograph often features people or landscapes without any commentary. This lack of information adds to the intensity and intrigue of the images. The viewer is aware of the context of the book, so begins to create their own narrative, to fill in their own gaps.
This would be an interesting personal project to carry out, using old photographs presented in today's context. Another interesting aspect of Philipp Ebeling's work is the photographer's motive. When critiquing photographs we often consider composition and subject, but what is the photographer getting out of the image? Why are they choosing to take the photograph in the first place? What do they give of themselves to the image and what do they get in return? Therefore it is also important for us as photographers to ask ourselves those same questions. Especially as a photography student, I am well aware that I need to make the effort to ensure the photographs I take have some meaning to me, instead of just a means to fulfilling the assessment criteria of my photography course.