“Sehnsucht” – freedom of movement in pictures

“When I moved from Peru to Germany in 2004, I bought a small digital camera and wanted to capture my journey. I starting taking more and more pictures and I soon realized that I focus on details not everyone does”, says Nicolas Balcazar.

As half-Peruvian, half-German, born in Berlin, and brought up in Lima, diversity is literally in his genes. Traveling is his passion. “Borders are man-made and they go against our natural instinct of wanting to explore the world. I hope that it will be possible one day to travel globally without complicated visa rules,” says the 27-year old photographer. Not only Lima and Berlin but also Lisbon, Lyon, Milan, Pristina, Skopje, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur and many other cities have been captured by Balcazar – by now on the road with professional equipment. “Traveling enriches me so much. There are so many experiences, unforgettable moments, so much humanity. My parents took me on our first trip when I was not even one year old… Traveling is like getting on the subway. It’s so normal… I grew up with it”, says Balcazar.

Balcazar knows that he is privileged. He thinks it’s terrible that Cubans can’t leave their own country. “It is sad that our society is divided into people who are able to travel and people who aren’t, and it mostly has to do with how prosper your country of origin is. That is so unfair. I’m lucky enough to have a German passport. When I traveled to Kosovo with some photographer friends, a Peruvian colleague gave up on joining us because he would have had to go through too much paper work and visa troubles. That’s just not right.”

Above all it’s the people in the places he visits who interest him. And since colors would only distract, he likes to take pictures in black and white. “I have a certain relation to every person I capture on camera. What I love is to expose that relationship. Besides, these people are all so pretty, I just have take pictures of them”, says Balcazar and laughs.

Given his biography, it is not surprising that his first solo exhibition is called “Sehnsucht”, which is German for nostalgia. “This word means any place or any feeling you want to reach but cannot. It symbolizes foreign countries, emotions, traveling… It can also mean something deep inside ourselves that we cannot express. Nostalgia or longing for something is intangible and that is exactly what my pictures reflect”, the young photographer clarifies. His best known for his double exposure pictures showing a portrait of a person surrounded by nature. “Something is dissolving and you don’t know if the person actually is there or wants to be in that place”, he finishes to explain.

Visitors of the vernissage in Berlin were impressed. A dancer said she loved the different layers and the movement in these pictures: “I just got so inspired, I have to think of a choreography tomorrow”, she said. “I’m not a big fan of thoroughly edited photos, but these pictures have something I like”, said a more reserved visitor. An art collector bought twelve photos at once. That does sound promising for a beginner.

Although Balcazars exhibition is not officially part of fifth European Month of Photography (EMOP), his theme goes hand in hand with “The View of the Other”, the biennale’s theme. It does make sense for a young photographer to hold a first exhibition just right now and take advantage of the festival’s 500.000 visitors in Berlin. EMOP is currently taking place in seven different cities. 

Author: Josephine Landertinger Forero 

“Sehnsucht” (running through December 29th 2012)




Official program of the 5th European Month of Photography (running through November 25th): >>>

 A selection of exhibitions with topics such as identity, exoticisation, colonialism, traveling:

Crossing Compasses – Berlin/Lagos exchange project”

Roma in Rome”

Moving Mountains”




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