Longing to belong / 2017

2017   I was invited to Valparaíso, a seaport in Chile, to take pictures of migrants.

I didn´t know anything about Chile and nothing about Valparaíso.

Walking around the streets, I found them crowded with people.

This was very different from home.  At times I asked passers-by,

if I might take a picture of them, and most of the time they agreed.

Their lack of distrust surprised me.


I didn´t know what I was looking for, I just reacted to what I saw and what I sensed,

just to find out later what it was all about, and it was, as always, also about me.


Marie lives up on the hill in a house without water and electricity.

In the evenings it can get really cold here. The sea is a long way down.

Marie´s grandparents hail from Germany. She is proud of her heritage.

The pictures of her grandparents bear the signs of a time long gone away.


Marie´s husband Pedro comes from Peru. His skin has a greyish black tone.

It is, as if he would be ashamed of his color.

When Pedro became eight years old, his parents sent him away from home.

From then on, he lived on the streets. Once in a while he brought back home his earnings.

Pedro never learned how to read and write.


There is a wide gap between photography and the reality it depicts.

Dumb and deaf it can´t bridge this gap because it sticks to the surface of things.

Photography fails, when confronted with social reality.

It knows nothing about cause and effect.


I saw tiredness and pain, and I saw longing.

The sun flickered into my face

and I asked myself if sometimes homelessness

doesn’t begin right there where you were born.


The couple from Haiti left their children at home,

hoping to support them with what they would earn in Chile.

Now both of them have a job, but at the end of the month

they are left empty handed and have nothing to send home.


The migrants, I was supposed to photograph,

they looked like Chilean citizens.

I needed help to get them sorted out.


Only the men and women from Haiti –

they were visibly different.

Their eyes are sad. And their skin is black.

They don´t want their picture taken.

Maybe they are afraid.


I photographed the dust in the roads, and I photographed the palm trees.

I photographed the pelicans at the harbor, and the shadows on the wall.

I was looking for a language that would mark my photographs as photographs,

as not to be confused with reality.


Isa juggles with three balls. She had travelled from Honduras to Chile,

and now she is here with a little daughter and nobody else.

She has three jobs and lives in a small room.


Isa is proud of her coffee that she prepares for us,

because she makes the impossible possible

in her crowded little room.


Her parents are coffee farmers, so she knows about coffee

and then she shows us a book by Oscar Wilde,

and she knows about him too.



The project was created during my “artist in residency”,

in Chile and exhibited as part of a group exhibition in Valparaiso and later on in Santiago de Chile.


Their support and hospitality made my work possible.


“Artist in residence” in Valparaiso, Chile 26.10 – 20.11.2017


In Germany I had time to find out more about the images I made in Chile,

so presentation and selection of the images changed.


2018 I was invited to  exhibit “longing to belong”   at the Projektraum Fotografie.

Here I got a lot of generous help by :

Gerhard Kurtz, Daniel Sadrowski, Marita Bullmann,  und Jörn Vanselow.