Themmuns is a photo project on youth in Northern Ireland.
The title refers to a slang word for ›them ones‹, the opposing side in Northern Ireland debates among Catholic Irish Republicans and Protestant Loyalists. Fellow members of one‘s own side are known as ›ussuns‹.
After UK’s 2016 Brexit referendum – arguably resulting from disinformation campaigns and post-truth politics – Northern Ireland had to leave the EU on 31 January 2020. Local Protestant Loyalists predominantly supported Brexit whereas the other fraction of mainly Catholic Irish Republican citizens voted to remain. After more than 30 years of conflict during the so called ›Troubles‹ one of the fundamentals of the Peace Process declared in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement is the open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland – which has now become an external border of the European Union.
In this project I was interested in exploring daily life situations with youth from both confessional communities and find out more about their concerns, surroundings and way of life. These observations often revealed more similarities than differences of lifestyle in a world of sectarian strife and political conflict mainly maintained by the older generation.
The work is about an empathic and sensitive view on whatever I felt could contribute to a comprehensive documentary of a social condition and a young generation’s quest for identity. In a larger context, it also reflects on the effects of divisive narratives on societies.
My gratitude to all the young individuals from both sides that I had the chance to meet and who allowed me to follow them with the camera!
›I’m not sectarian, I think we’re all the same‹
Sam, 21, Shankill area, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Themmuns project featured in:
2019 Gomma Grant, London, UK, winner Best Color Picture
2019 Unseen Amsterdam Dummy Book Award, The Netherlands, shortlist
2019 Format International Photography Festival, Derby, UK, group exhibition
2019 Kuala Lumpur International Portrait Photography Prize, Malaysia, finalist & group exhibition
2019 PHmuseum Photography Grant, London, UK, shortlist
2019 Copenhagen Photo Festival, Photo City, shortlist
2019 PhotoIreland, Dublin, Ireland, dummy book presentation
2019 Riga Photomonth, Riga, Republic of Latvia, screening
2019 Head On Photo Festival, Sydney, Australia, group exhibition
2019 Grenze – Arsenali Fotografici, Verona, Italy, group exhibition
2018 Les Rencontres de la Photographie, Arles, France, screening
2018 Luma Rencontres Dummy Book Award Arles, France, finalist
2018 Getxophoto International Image Festival, Getxo, Basque Country, finalist & screening
2018 Photobook Week Aarhus Dummy Award 2018, Denmark, finalist
2018 Preus National Museum of Photography, Horten, Norway, dummy book presentation
2018 Direct Look photo contest, Moscow, Russia, finalist & catalogue
2018 Athens Photo Festival, Greece, shortlist
2018 Meitar Award 2018, Tel Aviv, Israel, finalist
2018 Photo Is:rael, Tel Aviv, Israel, group exhibition & catalogue
2018 European Photography #104, dummy book presentation
Born 1968 in Berlin, I studied Art History in Paris, Political Science in Munich, and received a Master’s degree (Distinction) in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography from LCC, University of the Arts, London.
As a documentary photographer and filmmaker I’m interested in exploring anthropological and sociological questions related to social identity and political ideology.
In a research-based approach I work multi-disciplinarily on self-initiated long form projects and international editorial assignments.
My projects received several grants throughout my career, and my work has been nominated, among others, for the German Henri-Nannen-Prize and showcased at international photography festivals such as Format (UK), Photo:Israel and Les Rencontres d’Arles (France).
As an associated lecturer, I’ve been teaching photojournalism and documentary photography at Munich University of Applied Sciences.
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© 2022 Jens Schwarz Photographer
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