BEYOND BORDERS – Six degrees of seperation

A camera traveling - 28 destinations worldwide. It‘s always a coincidence what happens with it. And does it come back at all? Defying the rising nationalism and arrogance, Ela Mergels launched „BEYOND BORDERS“ - the current project of the Cologne artist.

Using an antiquated seeming photo technology she intends to connect humanity. The project revolves around an old treasure: an analog Ricoh half-frame camera from the 50s. Ela‘s old photo camera travels around the world with a color film. Friends take the camera with them and hand it over to locals.

There is only one mission:

Photograph intuitively whatever is important to you.

Whether wedding, cat, friends, garden, breakfast or bar ...

The goal is to gain insights into the respective world of the other.


When the camera returns, the film is rewound and inserted a second time for the next trip. Thus miraculously associative images originate, whose allure derives from random double exposures.

Ela Mergels: “A culture that closes itself up is unimaginable for me. I care about permeability, transformation and integration. With BEYOND BORDERS I hope to build connecting bridges.”

Ela Mergels coordinates the travel destinations. To her, it is particularly exciting when regions with political or cultural conflicts suddenly tell a common story and create something new across the borders.The first exhibition will be in Istanbul Biennale in October 2019. Afterward, the exhibition travels to the countries where it was photographed.

© by Ela Mergels, 2014-2019