In the former East of Germany, a stone's throw from the Czech boarder, a group of people have adopted and adapted the lifestyle of the American Cowboy creating a hybrid identity all of their own. Once-upon-a-time as a rebellion to Communism, the cowboy ethos now holds to what is seen as good about Communism, and paradoxically rejects the perceived ills of Capitalism.... (continued below, with video)
(continued from above) In this portrait series, which is part of a broader collection of portraits, documentary images and a documentary film, I use an older view camera, similar in working style to the cameras that have been used to document the American frontier. The large format reveals the rich details, with which the cowboys authenticate and construct their identity. They present themselves as they are. Isolated, they ask the viewer to contemplate the telling details without distraction.
Several years later, I went back to school for a master's degree in visual anthropology (something I've wanted to do for 20 years). I focused my work on the cowboys, with the end result being (besides a lot of theoretical anthropological research papers) a two-part short film. The main film, Cowboys: East Germany, Rebels of the Vogtland is longer and is the result of the field research in Germany. The second, and shorter film, Cowboys: East Germany, The Americans, establishes myself as the anthropologist and asks the questions: What is cowboy? And, who can be a cowboy?