Ilona Szwarc was a Polish exchange student when she landed in a small Texan town and had her first encounter with “rodeo girls”. Traditionally-speaking, in the United States rodeo is considered a men's sport, but increasing numbers of girls are going in for the wild rides, and even take part in professional competitions.
Rodeo, however, is much more than just a sport – it is closely bound to Texan culture. It is like a sub-culture that defines the daily life and personalities of youngsters – from clothing and room decorations to music, of course.
In the summer of 2014, Szwarc travelled to a number of rodeo competitions in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico, which is where she got to know her protagonists. She wanted to find a photographic approach to the “rodeo girls”. On the one hand, her pictures unmask the idiosyncrasies of rodeo, while on the other she treats the girls with great subtlety.
Ilona Szwarc has received a number of awards for her photographic work, including the 2013 World Press Photo Award and the Arnold Newman Award, and she was a finalist for the 2014 Leica Oskar Barnack Award. Szwarc works with a Leica S. Her work appeared recently in the Leica S Magazine No.5. She lives and works in the USA.
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