In the limbo of post-puberty the revelation is the highly sensitive form of vulnerability. Bodily-change and self-confidence go along the dangerous path of realiza- tion of one’s identity. The motif of searching for the stranger and the recognition of self in the other raise the central question of portrait photography: the issue of identity and image.
I capture these shy moments of young men in Eastern Europe and reinforce, as I put the person depicted in a pathetic ambience. The poetic discussion of the “otherness” is calculus. In some countries being different means fear of ostracisation, persecution and discrimination – where to go, where to stay? Where to feel reassured, where even to feel safe? They are not (yet) on the run, but look for shelter and security according to a protected place and so they find themselves on the side-lines of vacant, abandoned sites. In the end, these people are no longer looking for and no less than by their “very own“ identity. In the interplay of powerful presence and instable emotionality, their individuality in a moment of solitude is stolen. Concise gestures and photographic arrangements solve the singular sensitivity to general codes. All these people are metaphors for authentic emotion.
The apparent sobriety of the photographs is linked objectively – documented on subjective experiences. The historical situation of a nation can suddenly peek out of a picture. Spaces that appear like stages are taken out of context and sug- gest detailed historical chasms. Thus, the silent film still-like photographs visual- ize the secret longings of the “protagonists” of a society who are alienated from themselves, as well as the fragile relationship that has become reality through which they move as if hypnotized. Between reality and imagination, these young men revolve around their life-panic as “actors” and solidify contemplative in these portraits. However, the subversive energy that builds up behind the surface of solidification is not to be underestimated.
Anna Charlotte Schmid