In TRAVELOGUE SAMMLUNG, storyteller, artist and collector Lukas Birk repurposes his extensive personal collection, which is comprised of visual recollections of journeys that took place over the span of four decades in the Balkans, the Middle East and Asia, to discuss notions such as the birth of an artist; home and voyage versus photography; the trappings of (male) identity; and last but least, the ultimate destiny of a collection.
From vernacular to fine art photography and from the intimacy of the family album to ruthless public exposure, the product of this operation is a novel archival assemblage, both real and imaginary at heart, featuring prints, family albums, journals,anonymous photos, maps and various objects.
TRAVELOGUE SAMMLUNG unfolds as a fascinating remix that takes us to a journey through a non-linear space and time: departing from Austria, we are transferred through World War II and late post-war Balkans to 1970s-1980s Syria, 2000s Afghanistan and Pakistan, and then back home. A remix of all sorts, it unwraps the lifetime of three generations of men: grandfather Viktor Birk who served as a soldier in the unified army forces of Nazi Germany during World War II, father Andreas Birk, a hippy traveller and adventurer of the 1970s-1980s; and, finally, Lukas himself, a contemporary wanderer and artist. The three of them share a passion for traveling and photography.
By throwing pictures back to the arena of history and by mixing heterogeneous materials,TRAVELOGUE SAMMLUNG reinforces novel associations in the personal and collective memory. Through its amalgam of schizoid, social media like identities, it challenges any monolithic interpretations, and revisits clichés such as exoticism and folklore, the “Other” as a Western construct, and the status of the artist. Visitors are encouraged to step back and forth in time and engage with content according to their own personal visual and emotional connections. The only condition: not to miss sight of History’s fleeting and finite triviality.