The Austrian-Slovene border though the eyes of Inge Morath

23-01-2004

The world-renowned photographer Inge Morath was born in Graz - the capital of the Austrian province of Styria. She died at the end of January 2002, but before then journeyed through the borderland between southern Styria and Slovenia searching for clues to her family's origins. Her mother was born in an area that today lies in Slovenia. Out of Inge Morath's last journeys came an exhibition called "Border.Areas" Karen Engel when to the first showing of the exhibition and filed this report...

Crossover music at the opening of the exhibition "Inge Morath - Border Spaces - Last Journey." The music; modern, exploratory, with traditional Austrian and Slovene melodies. A good choice for homage to the world-renowned traveller and photographer Inge Morath who was born in Graz in 1923. Morath began her photography career in Paris in 1953 when she became a member of the photo agency Magnum and travelled all over Europe, Africa, Asia and the United States. In 1962 she married the American playwright Arthur Miller. By the 1970's Morath's pictures were being exhibited around the world. In 2001 Morath returned to the region of her childhood on the border between Austria and Slovenia. German filmmaker Imo Moscovits lives with his wife Renate, a childhood friend of Inge Morath, on the Austrian-Slovene border.

"She was so connected to this landscape, this paradise, I call it."

But for all of its exquisite beauty Inge Morath took relatively few landscape pictures. The border region between Austria and Slovenia, on the surface so similar, is one racked by painful history - families and communities torn apart when the Kingdom of Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia was carved out of the former Hapsburg empire after World War 1. Then came the rise of National Socialism, the ferocity of World War 2, and after 1945; the cold war. Filmmaker, Regina Strassiger:

"The psychological factor of this border area is something very deep. I think it is Gerhard Roth who was saying you must imagine those people who are in these areas felt like one part was just... amputated."

Emotionally reserved herself; Inge Morath was fascinated by the characters and personalities of others.

"She wanted to concentrate on people and she felt that this border area, you know these rolling, singing hills, could fall too easily into romanticism and I think, the inner relationship, what she felt, she wanted to keep for herself. And this was for a filmmaker very, very hard."

Over the last10 years with the fall of Yugoslavia and the independence of Slovenia the two regions have grown together. The armed border guards have disappeared and today crossing the border from Austria to Slovenia is literally like walking through a vineyard.

"There is no border at all and even the farmers from the other side, they are coming to visit us for tea. For Inge it was like becoming free from all of these heavy, heavy weights which were hanging on the past."

23-01-2004

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