The Nonexistent Line: A Journey Along the Former Iron Curtain


12 December 2009 - 24 January 2010
The Photographs of Davide Monteleone

A large number of initiatives have been promoted in recent months to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, a symbol of the division of Europe during the years of the Cold War.  But the Berlin Wall is only one part of the long, invisible border that split Europe into two political blocs.  Davide Monteleone's photographs tell the story of the "nonexistent line", the long stretch of Europe which Winston Churchill, speaking in March 1946, christened the Iron Curtain: 

"It is my duty to place before you certain facts about the present position in Europe.  From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.  Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe.  Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and, in some cases, increasing measure of control from Moscow ".

A part of Europe was under Soviet control for almost 40 years.  Its opening up to the West over the past 20 years has spawned clashes, migration, new poverty and sudden wealth, imbalances and deep social transformation.

Davide Monteleone, one of the photographer journalists who has built up the greatest familiarity with this region of Europe, traveled the 4,000 kilometer "border" in a car to record the changes that have taken place in this part of the continent in the 20 years since the Iron Curtain collapsed.  He traveled from Gorizia to Szczecin, or Stettin, in Poland, journeying through parts of Italy, Slovenia, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Germany, and focusing in somewhat greater detail on Berlin and Poland.

The exhibition, curated by Alessandra Mauro and an absolute first for Rome's Palazzo delle Esposizioni, comprises 70 color photographs in the shape of a series of diptychs consisting of two shots, one toward the East and the other toward the West.  The show is divided into two main parts:  "The Journey" (from Trieste to Szczecin), and "Berlin, City of the Wall", a symbol of the recent past.