Europe’s Betrothal

photography, text, design
Guus Rijven





On the 6th of March 1995 the Schengen Treaty comes into effect. Customs buildings are closed, officials relieved of the power over admission. And the citizen? He is handed boundless opportunities, with the occasional loss of his sense of home. Europe shows her true face at the border. As allies traverse their countries, temporarily or permanently settling wherever they like, the residents search for ways to guard their identity.

In 1996 I travel along the border between Portugal and Spain. (part I, see: Archive-Projects). In 2018 I follow this route once more. To test the waters. What is the state of the European contract? Has the alliance, the betrothal between the partners led to a hellish marriage, or a heavenly one? Are we headed for an ugly divorce or will we be proudly celebrating our silver wedding? This project is an exploration of change and movement. Along the length of the border, across the width of the route and through the depth of time: over two decades.

We have become used to and spoiled by the privileges that 'Brussels' has brought us. Our betrothal has made way for habituation. The Union is showing cracks in the ambitions of its Grand Ideology. Migrants are rattling at the gates of the external borders, citizens speak in reluctancies, afraid or concerned. One ally has already abandoned the covenant. The Fortress’ inner walls have been knocked down, but more and more individual states crave the return of their borders, bruised as they feel in their national identity. This series wants to gauge the unease and share what is left of the optimism.

30 x 21 cm
hardcover, paperbound
190 pages
ISBN 978.90.828194.27
language: English | Dutch

€ 40,- incl. shipping (Holland)

mail to guus.rijven(at)
mention: Europe's Betrothal and your personal details (name, address)
pay on NL82INGB0002376305 attn AJM Rijven
mention: Europe's Betrothal etc

When the edition of this publication is sold out, a new printrun will follow.
Then your copy can take a while. Do not be alarmed, Europe's Betrothal will come to you for sure.