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ONE PHOTO – ONE STORY

02.09.2020

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“The picture was taken in 2018 when I was travelling through Dagestan, a small Republic located between Azerbaijan and Chechnya. In fact, it still belongs to Russia, but has in part its own government. First of all, I travelled to Chechnya, to portray a young fighter there, and then I went on further south to Dagestan, to discover the origins of traditional tightrope walking. The people there say that tightrope walking comes from a small village in the Republic. Of course, I met many tightrope walkers, but also other artists; such as these two girls who attend circus school in the town of Ogni. The circus school is well-known for producing good artists. To start with, children go there in the afternoons as a hobby.  Later on, once they’re better and older, they go to the school virtually every day. The founder himself was a famous artist, and his son has now taken over the management. While I was shown the school, I was able to watch and take photographs of the two girls during their training. They didn’t let themselves get distracted by me. I find that the picture conveys both the present and the past at the same time: the old Soviet drawings of gymnastics in the background, and the young girl practising her artistic routine in the forefront.
The thing that fascinates me about the circus is that anyone can contribute something to it – regardless of their social status. It’s all about hard work and, of course, some luck. It makes many children forget; and it’s a place that is free from discrimination."

Picture and text: © Johanna Maria Fritz
Equipment: Leica M10 with Summilux-M 1:1.4/35 Asph
© Jim Huylebroek

Johanna-Maria Fritz

Officially, Johanna-Maria Fritz lives in Berlin – in reality, however, she is travelling all year round. She studied photography at the Ostkreuzschule and has been a member of the agency of the same name, since 2019.  Her work has been published in Spiegel, der Zeit, National Geographic and Newsweek China, among others. She has been the recipient of the Inge Morath Award, the Lotto Brandenburg Award and the VG-Bild Grant. Her work has been exhibited around the world, from Australia to France, in Germany and Switzerland, as well as in China and the USA.

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