Human Territoriality, 2016-19
In Human Territoriality, Roger Eberhard depicts sites of former national or imperial borders that have shifted or ceased to exist. The series interrogates over 2000 years of human history and highlights the absurdity of nationalism and protectionism: despite – or perhaps because of – millennia of bloodshed, no border has ever stood unaltered, a cartographical oddity further emphasised by the captions Eberhard writes to accompany his images.
Little tangible evidence of borders is visible in Human Territoriality. This sense of absence is one of the most compelling aspects of the images, underscoring the irony of conceptions of borders as fixed or immovable. The idea for the project started with an image of the 100th Meridian, part of the former border between Mexico and the USA, which shifted after the war between the two countries in the 1840s. This violent history is not evident in the image, in which, like the other photographs in the series, past conflicts have made way for vast landscapes, empty street corners and ski-lifts.
In our contemporary moment, when world leaders are embracing ever-harder national borders, Eberhard’s work is a welcome reminder that these dividing lines are invented constructs that can – and do – disappear.
Eberhard was born in Zurich in 1984, where he lives and works.