Tendance Floue - Nationale Zéro

A journey through Europe along a non-existent route

Between March and September, 2003, ten photographers from the French collective Tendance Floue traveled through the new Europe, which had just expanded to 25 member states, taking turns piloting a secondhand Lancia station wagon. Every participant was responsible for one section of the journey, mapping out their own route within it. Only the starting and finishing points of each leg were fixed, where, as in a relay race, the key to the auto was passed on to the following explorer.

The trip began in Cyprus, moving northwards via Greece and Italy, on to Slovenia, Hungary, Poland and the Baltic states, and on to Finland and Sweden. Then the route turned south again: Denmark, Germany and The Netherlands, across the Channel to England, back across it to France, next to Spain and Portugal, and closed in Gibraltar, where in clear weather the coast of Africa is visible on the horizon. All told, they covered 23,000 kilometers.

A photograph was taken every 50 kilometers along the way, looking through the windshield of the auto. Beyond that, everyone could do what he or she wanted: stopping at something in amazement or surprise, wandering around as the schedule permitted, doing touristy things with people they chanced to meet.The route that the photographers collectively covered over the seven months was a highway that does not actually exist: Nationale Zéro - the M-0, A-0 or Interstate 0, however your country might translate it. It was capricious, winding, as much in the mind as in reality - just like the new Europe itself.

Nationale Zéro, carried out in cooperation with GEO France, is also the title of the unusual report that Tendance Floue compiled of the journey, including 240 black and white and color photographs. The exhibition, seen here for the first time in The Netherlands, combines the varied monotony of the road with a panorama of everyday life in Europe. It combines landscapes with street scenes, portraits with still lifes, the accident of the moment with the weight of history.

Tendance Floue was founded in 1991, and is presently made up of Pascal Aimar, Thierry Ardouin, Denis Bourges, Gilles Coulon, Olivier Culmann, Mat Jacob, Caty Jan, Philippe Lopparelli, Meyer, Flore-Aël Surun and Patrick Tourneboeuf. The members operate both independently and jointly in groups which may vary in composition. The collective regards itself as a laboratory in which experiments in forms and the use of photographic language can be carried out, with the slogan 'A photo is not the goal but the starting point'.

A previous project by the collective, 'Nous n'irons plus aux paradis', a collage on anti-globalists and world events, was to be seen in 'Global Detail', the main exhibition of the photo festival with the same title which took place in 2003 in Groningen.