Jason Hermens: The Edge of the West

As a Finn, to visit the Russian border on the eve of the Trump-Putin meeting in Helsinki – only slide film can save you there!

No sooner did I start than I had to stop, blown away by the welded drain covers, the seagulls in place of people long gone. The city was in lockdown and police lingered at every corner, weighed down by the pounding sun.

The job review was underway, a kind of show-stopping performance or appraisal of how it had all gone so far. The blustering and condemnation of the free press. The self-obsessed meeting the self-obsessed. For a minute they swapped sides like a matryohska doll set swapping heads, swapping dialogue, the flags doubling over while the world laughed.

Fake news, fake smiles, fake announcements. Random translations. It’s certain nothing will change. The autocratic oligarchs drive their capitalist juggernauts, plundering, filling coffers. One regime pats the other on the back, both sneering at the Middle East for having regimes. Oh, you were expecting administration? Fake term!

Out here, abandoned, the edge of the west affords a nostalgic look at a chromeplated world long since forgotten. The rustic grey boards, cracked and weathered, cover broken houses. Spring arrives right after the snow melts. And trees, leafless, stand in solidarity with the scene.

Images and text by Jason Hermens