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Work / Photography

Naomi Harris’ photographic series EUSA explores when national stereotypes become caricatures

Since 2008, Canadian photographer Naomi Harris has been hopping across Europe and America to capture each continent’s representation of one another. This has taken her to strange, mildly offensive locations that play on national stereotypes, specifically American-themed places in Europe, and European-themed places in America. The result is a collection of photographs that “illustrate how globalisation has made the uniqueness of each country less signifiant and has created an indistinguishable common world community”.

Visiting 27 locations in ten countries, the project EUSA first began at a wild-west theme park in southern Sweden. Naomi then took off to a Cowboy and Indian amusement parks in Germany, France, Italy and the Canary Islands, a Dutch tulip celebration in Iowa, a Rockabilly festival in Hungary, a Viking gathering in Alaska and a Civil War re-enactment in the Czech Republic.

On face value, the intentions of these parks could be considered harmless. Travelling to these actual cities half way across the world is expensive for inhabitants of both. But, as Naomi puts it: “Being enthralled by another country’s way of life does not mean that it is always an accurate portrayal rather it becomes a sentimental and idealised depiction; an homage to a heritage that isn’t ones’ own. These locations are a perception of fantasy, a sense of what the other wishes the reality would be; a reaction to the homogenisation of European and American cultures.”

The result is a fascinating collection of photographs where cultures collide, “but what was once characteristic has now ultimately become a caricature”. EUSA is to be released by the brilliant German publishers, Kehrer Verlag, launching at Paris Photo at 2017, a Kickstarter campaign (in its last few hours of activity) has also launched to fund the book which provides a view to cultures you’ll recognise with a twist.

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Naomi Harris: EUSA

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Naomi Harris: EUSA

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Naomi Harris: EUSA

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Naomi Harris: EUSA

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Naomi Harris: EUSA

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Naomi Harris: EUSA

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Naomi Harris: EUSA

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Naomi Harris: EUSA