Portraits from the project Schönborn – Parallel Living.

Two villages, one name; one Schönborn sits in Transcarpathia in Ukraine, the other in Niederlausitz in Brandenburg, Germany. By chance they share a name but, at first glance, little else. The tiny Ukrainian village of 300 people was named after a 17th century Earl who settled German farmers and craftspeople in the then Austrian Empire's empty outskirts; the small German town was named after a still active natural spring. As the towns evolve, the Ukrainian village has been settled by ethnic Ukrainians and German is only occasionally still heard on the one main road. The German Schönborn is being reinvigorated by people immigrating back to the small towns outside of Berlin as well as by a small refugee population being housed in vacant prefabricated post-war buildings.

Under Alexa Vachon's watchful eye, similarities, differences and shared characteristics reveal themselves. Both villages experienced mass emigration in the early 1990s, after German reunification and Ukrainian independence, but managed not to be swallowed up by nearby towns. What does the future hold for each village as people around the world settle in large cities? How do national identity, language and religion present themselves in each village's customs and traditions?  The project Schönborn – Parallel Living traces the people who make a place a home.