TRAVEL NOTES

Sergey Kalinin

04.07.2014 – 27.07.2014

Triumph Gallery, Moscow

The New Face of Europe

 

The genre of ethnographic sketches that Sergei Kalinin has addressed himself to would appear to be an anachronism, as there are now no lands and peoples that remain unstudied. But this view of the traveler, in fact, turns out to be timely and incisive. And do we in fact really know Europe? These countries have probably changed a great deal. Fears of globalization and unification were linked to America — the same hamburgers would be everywhere, the same corporate logos. We got used to searching for the unusual in exotic countries and radically different cultures. But in the post-colonial era, everything is being turned on its head, with unification coming alongside inflows of immigrants. A journey is, in a sense, becoming impossible — moving from city to city, apart from the architectural sights, you'll see the same things over and over: kebabs, Chinese and Indian restaurants, street stalls with knickknacks and bijouterie, special hairdressers for African and Asian hair, and numerous people in national dress. This is the new face of Europe – it is payback for centuries spent attempting to enforce its culture on other peoples, and now it is itself being subordinated to them. This is not just payback for colonialism, it is also the collapse of the policy of multiculturalism, which Merkel, Cameron and Sarkozy have spoken of recently. This policy, after all, wasn't sincere — teaching in native languages in schools implied a desire of the host country to retain the ability to send the immigrants back and to prevent complete integration.  Loyalty to other religions and traditions was compensation for the absence of a social lift: you are poor and will remain so, but you can pray to Mecca. The consolidation of immigrants into communities makes the use of quotas in employment impractical — "rightist" Europeans criticize representatives of national minorities who have received significant posts for bringing their relatives along with them, but essentially it is multiculturalism that is to blame here, as it preserves the concept of members of the community being "one of us", and everyone else being "alien".

 

Diana Machulina

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