• Play Life—Neighbors in the Western Balkans

Play Life—Neighbors in the Western Balkans

Slanted Publishers

Regular price

People around the world define themselves again through an old phenomenon: nation states. The nation as a savior in a complex world. One’s own state is glorified and lowers other nations in an imaginary hierarchy. Historically, nation states are a young phenomenon. Only since the French Revolution have people sought identity in language, borders and nation. Before that, kings ruled over a multitude of countries and peoples. Many languages ​​were spoken in their territory and the population belonged to different religions. In absolutism, the king held the people together.

New political ideas and economic production approaches required new identification mechanisms. Language, race and border now formed a nation. National myths emerged that historically established this new definition of the state. The Germans used the war against France in 1871, a German king was proclaimed emperor—although in 1815 Germany still consisted of more than 39 states that united to form the German Confederation. The new states of the Western Balkans used similar approaches to define their national identity. Some built pseudo-historical buildings and sculptures to underline the historical existence of their nations, others used religion and reinterpretations of historical moments in the Balkans to substantiate their belief in the right to dominate other nations. Looked at from the outside, it looks like a mimicry of commonly used patterns for building nations—it looks like “Play Life.”



Slanted Publishers


Lars Harmsen


Dirk Gebhardt


June 2019


120 pages, 58 photographs

Format in cm (w × h × d) 

15 × 21.5 cm




500, numbered and signed


Rubber band