Twenty years ago, traveling across Europe meant stopping at every border, waiting in lines, and the occasional frisk from border police. Now, thanks to changes in the law, it’s possible to cross 26 countries without ever pulling out a passport. Over the last couple of years, photographer Ignacio Evangelista has documented the abandoned border crossings left behind.
“Most of them are falling down due to the passing of time,” Evangelista says. “I think it’s good being able to look at these places. You can take a look at how Europe was, not such a long time ago. Now, some politicians speak about closing the borders again; I hope this never happens.”
The open borders, he believes, are a critical part of Europe’s future–not just because traffic can flow freely, but because it’s actually a good thing to let new residents sneak in from one country to the next. “People forget that in many European countries, like Spain and others, the birth rate average is negative,” he says. “We need immigrants because the population is getting old.”
For Evangelista, the empty border stations are a reminder of how arbitrary bureaucracy is. “Every time I get to a border crossing to take pictures, I am confronted with all kind of signs–stop, achtung, arrows–and barriers which at some point have regulated movements and behaviors which now appear absurd and out of context,” he says.
“Some old and familiar voices speak to me about the arbitrariness of control systems, about their pure artifice, their alienating character and the huge imbalance between the power of the states and their relationship with individuals,” he adds.