The 19th century must be seen as the century of the nation state. While the breakdown of ruling empires
granted regional independence and political self determination, some other ethnic and religious groups were
split into minor entities within newly drawn borders. As one of the latter Kurds in Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq
are claiming their right to an own united kurdish state for almost a hundred years.
One part of this ‘Kurdistan’, the ‘Kurdistan Region of Iraq’ (KR-I) exists within the conﬂicting areas of a
seemingly geopolitical reality on the one hand and a fabricated national myth on the other. My photographic
approach abandons the sphere of day to day politics and emphasises which symbols foster the idea of a
nation, how a national memory is constructed and what relationship can be drawn between (re)location and
the process of nation building.
The body of work KR-I is located at this threshold of desired and constituted territory to exemplarily illustrate
signifcant methods and visual narratives that are adopted to strengthen national claims. In this undefned
borderland the nation is built on the imagination of a human community that is linked through a shared
history within an (ideal) territory.
The ‘Ruhrresidence’ collided chronologically with the events following an unrecognized KR-I independence
referendum of September 21st 2017. Due to the closure of the KR-I airspace for international ﬂights I was
unable to access the Kurdistan Region that I acknowledged as a defned territory in former visits. This made
my focus shift to comprehend the KR-I as merely an ideal space. Taking a diasporic point of view I both
investigated and understood the importance of the relation towards other foreign societies in order to locate
the basis for a national identity. My research led me to the conclusion that the process to build a sustaining
state has a chance to succeed only by adopting the internationally predominating set of liberal democratic
principles and language. It is alone here in this intercommunal relationship that the state can be rooted and
Due to the unpredicted events of the independence referendum I was challenged to create means to visually
accompany the post referendum statebuilding attempt that I witnessed through the KR-I media coverage.
Reducing television outtakes to their symbolic core I assembled a collection of images that illustrates this
dialogue with the other(s).
This work is a visual contribution to the study of (sub) nationalism and the process of statebuilding.