In April 2013, photographers Nico Krebs and Taiyo Onorato, who have been working together for a dozen years, loaded up their 1987 Toyota Land Cruiser in Switzerland and headed east. They'd already roughly traced their route by running a finger across the map of Eurasia to their ultimate destination, Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia. It felt like setting forth on an expedition to the mystical realms of the East: Eurasia, Central Asia, the foothills of the Himalayas, the forests of Siberia, the Stan Republics, the gigantic expanse of the former Soviet Union. A vast land mass, very few images of which are lodged in our minds, at least no clear and well-defined images, rather a haze of history and global politics. Nico Krebs and Taiyo Onorato went out in search of these images, to reproduce them, and to create them themselves. Continental Drift is a travel log straddling the fine line between documentation and fiction about unknown lands, their possible past and conjectured future. It relates encounters with the utterly bizarre and inaccessibly alien, as well as with a remarkable openness and lavish hospitality they'd never known before, in striking contrast to their previous trip across the United States (The Great Unreal, now in its third edition at Edition Patrick Frey). Many of the countries and regions they traversed are in the throes of upheaval, caught between thousand-year-old traditions and post-Communist history and geopolitics, religious, territorial and ethnic turmoil, and the spreading desire to jump on the bandwagon of global turbocapitalism. The search for identity here is palpable a search, along with the attendant confusion, graphically depicted in Continental Drift.
During a period of three years Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs traveled several months through the United States, working "on the road" on the photo series The Great Unreal. The photographic work deals with reality and the fabrication of reality. The geography of America serves as both setting and fertile ground for the examination. Mysticism and demystification are important aspects in this process, as is working with a rich inventory of visual icons that can be continually deconstructed and manipulated. The working method of both photographers is based on interventions prescribed mostly by happenstance and change. Through repetition and associative placement, the sometimes crude, sometimes subtle interventions begin to link to one another, establishing an exciting transformation of reality that only hesitatingly reveals itself to the viewer. Together with book designers Megi Zumstein and Claudio Barandun, what emerged is an unmitigated picture book that makes a visual journey possible without any instructions. It comprises narrative image sequences that approximate the curiosity and restlessness of being on the move and, at the same time, depict associative connections with the American landscape.