Anterpen, Anwers, Antwetpen

Anterpen, Anwers, Antwetpen — Violeta Chouciño Veiga

Socio-Political Context  2021-2022

By confronting the city’s true image against my preconception, I question our cultural codes and how they shape the way we interpretate different realities. I photographed my first contact with my neighborhood for a start, with the final aim of dismantling the myth and propaganda directed to poorer countries that creates the imagery of the european dream.

When I first arrived to Antwerp, what I experienced was very different to the idea I had before coming. I decided therefore to document my first contact with the city by photographing details that dissented from my expectations.

By confronting the city’s actual picture, I question the cultural codes slowly built by our social context and how they shape the way we perceive different realities. My theory is that we interpret context and life with the same principle that we interpret images, as Roland Barthes says, we learn how to do it by a subliminal (or not) education, that makes us understand an image is not a real thing (ceci n'est pas une pipe); every input we receive outside the context we were raised on is conditioned to be interpret by two main filters: what we think is the standard (for all kinds of things), and how we expect the new place to be, and those 2 filters together build the code we undergo new places and experiences to. A silly example is how I thought to be extremely strange that trash waits inside the house for an entire week before being thrown, or how there's not umbrella stands in every interior location. A more serious one would be how racially segregated Antwerp is, and how those neighborhoods that hold the most immigrants and racialized people are left out from the care other sites more visited by tourists receive.

The idealization of a very white, superiorly organized and smarter Belgium that some people took years, effort and money to create was engraved in my mind unconsciously. I'm trying to deconstruct that vision, and investigate where does it come from.

I conducted a series of interviews of two kinds: to dig in in what spanish people think Belgium is, and to understand how is other people's process of adaptation when moving to a new country and culture, for both to help me identify my own feelings and thoughts on people that share my context and community characteristics.

I'm using my photographs as postcards as a symbol to bring back home, to southern Europe, everything I'm discovering Belgium is and is not.

My aim with the finished project is to dismantle the myth and propaganda directed to poorer countries that creates the imagery of the european dream, that only leaves space for the self-hate and inferiority complex.