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Toast in German national colors for the Deutscher Jugendfotopreis 2015, Copyright: Valentin Toschner/Deutscher Jugendfotopreis 2015
Image: Valentin Toschner/Deutscher Jugendfotopreis 2015

How young photographers see Germany

Miriam Karout
July 4, 2016

From fairytales to Merkel and the German military, German photographers as young as 13 take a unique view of their country. Winners of a major youth photo award are presenting their works in a special exhibition.

https://p.dw.com/p/1JIfQ

Some are in color, others in black-and-white. Some were taken on film, others digitally altered. Some depict humans, others focus on nature.

But there is one common thing between the 100 photographs from the German Youth Photo Prize: They share an individual perspective by telling stories from the photographer's life.

Although these works of art were selected at last year's German Youth Photo Prize, their content is still very much up-to-date. Now, though October 16, 2016, they are being displayed at the Haus der Geschichte historical museum in Bonn.

These intimate views of Germany were created exactly 25 years after the German reunification and show how the young generation is interpreting Germany. Children, adolescents and adults under 26 were invited to submit photos and photo series on the topic "My Germany." The exhibition now presents the 100 best works from 28 budding photographers.

A photo collage by Maximilian Mundt for the Deutscher Jugendfotopreis 2015, Copyright: Maximilian Mundt/Deutscher Jugendfotopreis 2015
A photo collage by Maximilian MundtImage: Maximilian Mundt/Deutscher Jugendfotopreis 2015

Black, red, and gold for breakfast

Ten-year-old Valentin Toschner is the winner among the youngest participants. Experimenting with colorful spreads, he spontaneously created "Germany Toast" during breakfast with his parents.

"We often burn toast in the toaster until it's black," Toschner explained, "So we thought, if there was yellow and red, we would have a German flag!"

From the Brothers Grimm to Merkel

Maximilian Mundt, 18, approached the topic quite differently. Mundt, who won first prize in the 16-to-20-year-old group, experiments with self-portrayals that he personally relates to Germany.

The result is enthralling collages. "I've always had the idea to portray myself. Then I started to create this special series for the competition," Mundt explained in an interview.

Equipped with self-made costumes and props, he engages with different areas of society, including Chancellor Angela Merkel and the famous Brothers Grimm's fairytales.

Germany greeting card for Deutscher Jugendfotopreis 2015, Copyright: Fotogruppe Kamerajungs der Salzmannschule/Deutscher Jugendfotopreis 2015
The average age of the artists behind this project was nineImage: Fotogruppe Kamerajungs der Salzmannschule/Deutscher Jugendfotopreis 2015

"I love fairytales and I've always lived in my own dream world," he explained. "In photography and the digital world, I realized that I am able to actually carry out my dream world. Everything is possible with digital media."

Happy Birthday, Germany!

Last year's special topic was "Best Wishes!," meant to cover the 25th anniversary of German reunification. The photographers were asked to create greeting cards for Germany, with the judges looking for a combination of photo and text elements. Accordingly, the photographer group "Kamerajungs" (average age: 9 years) from the Salzmannschule in Duisburg created a greeting card in 3D. The card reveals a tattered German flag that is fused together in front of the Berlin skyline.

The text "Happy Birthday, Germany" was created by photographing their own bodies in letter forms.

A German soldier hugging a woman for Deutscher Jugendfotopreis 2015, Copyright: Jakob Ganslmeier/Deutscher Jugendfotopreis 2015
Post-traumatic stress disorder is not often talked about in GermanyImage: Jakob Ganslmeier/Deutscher Jugendfotopreis 2015

Germany's forgotten soldiers

Jakob Ganslmeier named his work about the German military "Trigger." For his photo series, he accompanied soldiers who suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder after their missions in Afghanistan. Using an analogous medium format camera, the 24-year-old developed emotional images of an invisible disease.

"The military's missions also belong to modern Germany - but there is only little media coverage and attention of those events," said the young photographer.

The exhibition is on show through October 16, 2016 at the Haus der Geschichte museum in Bonn.

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