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Photo Essays

Wonderful by Lena Mucha

SAN ROQUE, SPAIN – December 2014. 7- year old Carmen in her families living room. Carmen is one of 7 children, living with their parents in a tiny quat.

Wonderful, photo essay by Lena Mucha

[W]onderful is a story about the young Roma generation in the outskirts of Barcelona, Spain.
Beyond stereotypical paradigms about Roma people, this project gives a glimpse into the world of this generation whose future seems to offer little promise and where social stigma as racial discrimination and social exclusion are shaping their reality.

With around 60% aged below 29 years, Roma are a relatively young community. Embracing adult responsibilities very early and playing an important role in the economical activities of their families they learn to be adult at a very young age. Their strength and maturity stand in opposition to their fragility, their hopes and wishes of living a free childhood and youth within one of the oldest minorities of Europe.

Between tradition, patriarchal structures and cultural and social globalization, it is the need of achieving ethnical recognition and defining their identity what most challenges this generation nowadays.

SAN ROQUE, SPAIN – December 2014. 8-year old Toni in the stairways of the housing block where his grandmother lives. Toni has one little sister and lives with his parents in a quat.
SAN ROQUE, SPAIN – December 2014. 11-year old Carmen in the outsides of her neighbourhood.
SAN ROQUE, SPAIN – December 2014. 22-year old Julian in front of his flat. He is the youngest of 11 children, the last one not maried yet and lives alone with his mother.
SAN ROQUE, SPAIN – December 2014. 10-year old Elda in the living room of her families flat during pre-christmas time. Elda lives with her two older brothers and her parents in a tiny two-room flat. Both her father and her mother are in a bad health condition and donΒ΄t work.
SAN ROQUE, SPAIN – October 2014. 24-year old Fernando visiting his family. The image was taken in the stairway of his aunts house. Fernando went to school till the age of 15 and is unemployed since then. He has two children and is seperated from his wife.
SAN ROQUE, SPAIN – October 2014. 6-year old Samara with her favourite doll in her room she shares with her sisters. Samara has 5 siblings. She suffers from insomnia.
SAN ROQUE, SPAIN – December 2014. 11-year old Jose in the stairway of his housing block.
SAN ROQUE, SPAIN – December 2014. 12-year old Samara, the oldest of 5 children, with her 2-year old brother Ramon she is taking care while her parents work in the informal sector.
SAN ROQUE, SPAIN – December 2014. 16-year old Juan in his room. Juan lives with his 2 little sisters and parents in a tiny 2-room flat. After graduating college he wants to make a further apprenticeship as pharmacist. His father works in the informal sector.
SAN ROQUE, SPAIN – December 2014. Sandra in the backyard of her grandmothers housing block at her 8th birthday. Sandra is the youngest of 5 children and lives alone with her parents since her 15-year old brother got in jail one year ago.
SAN ROQUE, SPAIN – December 2014. 16-year old Miguel in his room. Miguel started working as a model at the age of 14. His dream is to leave his home country Spain in order to make his career as a professional model abroad. His parents want him to make his future plans but due to financial lack can not support him.

Q&A with Lena Mucha

Photography is…
… a powerful medium to express and communicate my personal perception of the cultures that surround us. Yet, I think we should be flexible and able to adapt the language we use depending on the topic and what we want to communicate.

Photography and writing…
… are different media complementing each other. A photograph should speak for itself. Nevertheless, sometimes more specific contextual information is necessary in order to give a wider understanding of the documented issue.
Nevertheless, sometimes more specific contextual information is necessary in order to give a wider understanding of the documented issue. In the current era where we receive an overwhelming amount of visual material, we should be careful at the moment of consuming images and text, as written information can lead even more to misinterpretations of what we consider “true”.

Who left the biggest impression on you?
I very much appreciate the portrait work of Alessandra Sanguinetti, Pierre Gonnord and Joan Fontcuberta.

Tell us a little about yourself
I am a german photojournalist currently based in Barcelona, Spain. I studied Social Anthropology and Political Sciences and worked several years on human rights topics in Colombia and Guatemala, where I started becoming a photographer in 2013.
My work focuses on stories related to human rights, gender aspects and social changes within societies and ethnic groups. My aim is to investigate and visualize those stories behind the images and challenge prejudices and preconceptions about “the others”. Photography, as well as anthropology, allows me to get a more holistic understanding of the cultures we are living in and therefore helps me to understand humanity a little more.

Lena-MuchaLena Mucha (website), born in Germany (1983). Master in Social Anthropology, University of Cologne, 2011.Her interest in photography began whilst investigating the conflict in Colombia, covering assignments for NGOs and working in local newspapers. Since 2013 she lives in Barcelona. 2014 she won the first prize of the international photography contest Iber-rutas and was awarded the Albarracin Photojournalism Schoolarship. Her work has been exhibited internationally and published in El Pais and 6mois.

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