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Vestiges 1991-2012
December 12, 2012
The “Marseille-Provence 2013, European Capital of Culture” project is Euro-Mediterranean. That is the reason why some artists were requested to present their vision of the links between Europe and Mediterranean.
Josef Koudelka was born in Czechoslovakia. This European from a country without any sea involved himself in a long and patient journey, which drove him to nineteen countries bordering the Mediterranean and to more than a hundred archaeological sites of Greek and Roman History.

This exploration is without precedent. Nobody before him has tried with such obstinacy, and without any material help, to give such a complete representation of the ruins of a great history using the art of photography. In the 19th Century, romantic painters used to love ruins. They painted them in the glory of melancholy. Josef Koudelka also does paintings of ruins. However, he is not romantic and does not cultivate melancholy as ferment of his art. To him, ruins are moving remains of what is dying. They are the signs of a current affair, of which art should
restore the meaning in our present; here, on the fronts of this “common sea”, is the current birth of Europe and its founding values.

This work is in line with the path Koudelka followed in “Exiles”, “The Datar Photographic Mission”, “The Transmanche Photographic Mission” and “Chaos”. This is the path of landscapes where greatness and effort of men’s actions might disappear. From the industrial ruins of the North of France, to the columns of forums and temples, the goal is not to document a history; it doesn’t need to be documented. The goal is to regain, through the use of artistic representation the meanings of a world which is beyond us and that we might loose, a world where spirit is a source of dialogue between reason, faith, freedom and law. This world, which, according to Jacques Berque “we carry within us piled rubble and tireless hope.” To transform rubble into hope, this is the accomplished ambition of Josef Koudelka through his extraordinary journey.