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By Stephen Barber

Extreme Europe explores the city extremes of Europe of their cultural, actual, geographical and legendary dimensions, contemplating the background and visible tradition of Europe within the decade after the autumn of the Berlin Wall. Barber's goal is to check Europe's towns and their surrounding parts as websites of a clash among the enchanting, all-engulfing energy of visible media and the hardly surviving strains of tenacious historic tradition; his premise is that the "breakdown zones" at Europe's city edges are the websites the place its oppositional and most crucial photographs and languages are being created today.

Barber units out to discover and outline Europe's political and conceptual edges, first creating a circuit eastwards via Albania to Turkey, then south- and westwards alongside the Mediterranean coast, with stops in Crete and Marseille. The book's different sections stream, first, via numerous many years of historical past as they are often learn in either the surviving and the remodeled materials of Berlin, and, ultimately, during the frayed, disaffected multicultural landscapes of Paris's outer suburbs.

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Alongside the children, and moving much more slowly, stooped and aged figures wrapped tightly in black clothing grip the iron handrails in the centres of the alleyways to make their infinitesimal descent. The city cannot mediate between its extreme populations: life moves abruptly from youth to old age, with no intervening span. 41 At that expiring point of Europe, the sea pours in to annul the land. Europe is on its last legs. Out to the west of Lisbon, past the suburb of Cascais, I stood for a moment over the ‘Mouth of Hell’: a gouged cliff inlet where the sea beat with ferocious force at the face of the earth, contorting the very rock.

The crucifixes and icons attached by rosary beads to the opaque rear-view mirror reeled from side to side. The driver overshot the unmarked Gortyn stop, but then reversed, sending the peasants standing 29 in the aisle flying forwards. The site of Gortyn was isolated within a parched plain of olive groves and banana plantations, resonating with layers of insect noise. I climbed over the broken stone wall that surrounded the deserted site. Dust flew up from the ochre ground: no rain had fallen for weeks, and the site emanated an aura of utter stasis.

I swam out southwards above the coral, surrounded by shoals of tiny fish; as I looked back towards the island, it appeared flattened out almost to invisibility, its fragility reinforced by the raw white mountains of mainland Crete towering behind it. Without the tangible presence of any defining land or space to focus on, the only means to gauge that extreme boundary of southern Europe exactly must be corporeal. In swimming as far out as you can, to the point of exhaustion, you finally reach the far limits of Europe.

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