What do I have to do now?

Pupils at a Munich school, aged between 12 and 16 years old, asked this question –

What do I have to do now?

These portraits, are of them waiting for a reply.

Between 2013 to 2020, organised through the Department of Social Welfare, I annually made portraits of the pupils for their work experience applications. The aim of the pictures: Everyone looks friendly and „decent“ – in line with the expectations of the industry they’re applying to – shop assistant, kindergarden teacher, mechanic…

For each session, I set up a studio in a classroom – all the youngsters get the same light and the same background. When they enter the classroom, I greet them, introduce myself and was usually asked nervously, „What do I have to do now? I answered, „nothing at the moment“.

The above portraits, are the pictures of them before I „tell“ them, what they „have“ to do, in order to present themselves to the working world.

The young people I see sitting in front of me, are fragile and waiting for guidance. The images reflect their current situation. Officially, they are all still under the responsibility of others – their parents, the school, the Asylum Office…

In 2016, I learned that 2 of the children I had photographed (their portraits are not shown above), had been killed in the racist attack, in the Olympia Shopping Center in Munich, on the 22.07.2016.

The lives of all these portrayed children, are affected by issues such as racism, extremism, classism, sexism and all kinds of discrimination, that not only affects their lives, but even threatens their lives.

This became very real for them, after they lost their classmates.

Is there a good answer to their question, „What do I have to do now?“

This project is ongoing…

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