Edition 2016

Alfred Seiland

Imperium Romanum

Closed on 18 September 2016
Two thousand years ago Europe was unified by a political and military superpower, the Roman Empire. In the year 2006 CE, Alfred Seiland started work on his Imperium Romanum project. Inspired by an assignment for the New York Times Magazine, he began to study the visible remains of Roman culture, architecture, and art in our 21st century, starting in Rome, then Italy, and soon after all over Europe and the Mediterranean. The research became a long-term project of more than ten years and is still ongoing in 2016. At a time when Europe seems in doubt about its most recent unifi cation processes, Seiland’s vision of the Roman Empire can serve as a mind-map of a cultural and political union. Imperium Romanum’s photographs remind us that some of our most evident political, cultural, and religious problems remain unsolved after 2000 years.

With impressive and well composed landscapes, deconstructive cityscapes, and sometimes ironic details Seiland confronts today’s European, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern life with the amazingly sustainable infrastructures and architectural remains of the Roman world, whether visible or invisible, easily accessible or closed to the public, forgotten or by now famous tourist sites or even destroyed in the current war situation. Imperium Romanum is an epic project, both in concept and scope, that goes back deep into the early roots of a common European culture and its surrounding neighbours. All works are accompanied by short explanatory captions which make reference to historical and modern aspects of the content of the images.

In his pictures Alfred Seiland addresses the crossover of the Ancient and the Modern and the influence of history on the present. His main topics are the appearance of ancient remains, reconstructions, or replicas, at the original or altered locations. Cultural landscapes of all kinds, battlefi elds, quarries, Roman revival festivals, movie sets, cloned buildings— Alfred Seiland has captured the Roman Empire over time and space, wherever it was powerful then and where we can still see its power and influence now.

Markus Hartmann

Exhibition produced by the Villa Méditerranée - AViTeM.
Conception and associate production: Rencontres d’Arles.
Publications: Imperium Romanum Opus Extractum volume 1; Imperium Romanum Opus Extractum volume 2, 2016.

  • Institutional partners

    • République Française
    • Région Provence Alpes Côté d'Azur
    • Département des Bouches du Rhône
    • Arles
    • Le Centre des monuments nationaux est heureux de soutenir les Rencontres de la Photographie d’Arles en accueillant des expositions dans l’abbaye de Montmajour
  • Main partners

    • Fondation LUMA
    • BMW
    • SNCF
    • Kering
  • Media partners

    • Arte
    • Lci
    • Konbini
    • Le Point
    • Madame Figaro
    • France Culture