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Birte Kaufmann: The Travellers

Artist’s Statement:

My photography project “The Travellers”, gives insight into the everyday life of Ireland’s largest minority group. This group has a nomadic origin, stemming from the tradition of migrant workers. As this tradition no longer exists, the travellers are looking for a new identity within the Western European society of the 21st century. Both the travellers’ traditions and their way of life are so different that they are met with little acceptance by the rest of the Irish society. The travellers live in a kind of parallel world with rules all of its own and traditional gender roles, a world to which outsiders have little access.

To this day, some traveller families live by the roadside illegally – mostly without electricity, running water or sanitation, even though the government has provided halting sites for the travellers where they can stay with their caravans.

In the summer of 2011, I travelled to Ireland with a VW bus in order to photograph the travellers. I wanted to capture the travellers’ way of life and their values in pictures. In doing so, I did not want to romanticize them, but rather show their everyday life. A life where people still hunt rabbits and where horses play a vital role. But it is also a life that contains hardship and boredom from an early age.
Since my first encounter with the travellers, I have been in touch with one large family. Over time, I have gained their trust. Consequently, I was allowed to live with them so that I and my camera became part of their daily lives.

Artist’s Bio:

Birte Kaufmann: Berlin, Germany

Birte Kaufmann is born 1981 in Germany. She lives and works as a freelance photographer in Berlin (DE). She focuses on photojournalism and documentary photography related to social and society relevant issues. From 2009 to 2012 she studied photography at Ostkreuzschule für Fotografie und Gestaltung in Berlin (DE). Graduation October 2012. From 2003 to 2006 she studied socialwork with the main subject media pedagogics at Fachhochschule Köln (DE). Gratuation August 2006.

2013 “go photo” contemporary young photography – selected groupexhibition, Schwanenhöfe in Duesseldorf (DE)
2012 5. European Month of Photography_ groupexhibition “echos”, former Kaufhaus Maaßen in Berlin (DE)
2012 “On Bötzow” selected groupexhibition, Bötzow Brewery in Berlin (DE)
2011 selected groupexhibition at Ostkreuzschule in Berlin (DE)
2010 selected groupexhibition at Ostkreuzschule in Berlin (DE)
2009 “The Country of Yam and Cassava”, Kupferdächle in Pforzheim (DE)
2007 “The Country of Yam and Cassava”, Stadthaus “Am Herriger Tor” in Erftstadt (DE)
2006 “Portraits from Nigeria”, Museum Camera Obscura in Mülheim/Ruhr (DE)

Publications (selection):
2012 Camera Austria International/ Forum 119/2012
2012 Sunday Times Magazine/ Spectrum
2012 CNN Photoblog

2012 Kulturwerk VG Bildkunst artist`s grant