Doktoratsprojekt künstlerische Forschung

The Journey: tourist zones, seasons and fields in between (working title)

Katarina Šoškić

What is the unknown of an unknown destination in the context of mass tourism? If a tourist is a worker who was given limited time a year to spend on holiday – is an exploration of the unknown really what comes as an option? Isn’t the set of unknown destinations always predictable list of attractions advertised in tourist guides what make these people want to travel? Is the way these localities are constructed actually the field, which is supposed to stay unknown as well as the surrounding zones before they turn into a new potential attraction, discovered by investors and promoted by travel agencies? What is then left to tourists to discover? The encounter that occurs between a worker from a foreign country coming to an unknown destination in order to spend his holiday and a local situation being reflected in the way touristic complexes are constructed is where the position of a tourist is to be understood as well as her ideas and expectations of the unknown.  What becomes “the unknown” of my interest is the way these discoveries take place – both the ones performed by the local authorities when defining new attractions and those promised to the tourists. Instead of “unknown” that could serve as a label to mark more or less cultivated destinations that one still didn’t visit, I am curious about “the untouched”.

Who is in power of turning the untouched into “unknown” to be discovered through the performance of mass tourism? Destinations to be visited from the outside have to be seen as localities that someone chooses, constructs and maintains from the inside. Depending on how this inside-outside relation is reflected  the development or popularity of a certain tourist area can be measured.

I am curious about European coastal tourism in well-organized societies as well as in those in developing countries in the middle of transitional processes. Wild examples of the latter could help me locate and emphasize the issues in the zones where the change of landscape is performed more subtly. By comparing the archival photographic material to what I will try to capture nowadays I want to understand the changes that have occurred in different places at different times. What stays invisible and what becomes obvious in these comparisons will serve as a basis for each individual case, emphasizing: the position of a tourist and her encounter with the localities, the way the localities are constructed and maintained and the way this interaction functions or doesn’t through successful and unsuccessful implementations of tourist attractions.

Potential of photography as a tool of research, potency of an image in showing the invisible will be simultaneously reassessed during my study.