Adolescence is the theme of Ute Behrend's new photo book. It tells of a fictional "Indian tribe" that separates its pubescent girls and dresses them in bearskins to protect them from premature sexualization.
In doing so, she draws parallels to our society, in which the freedom for adolescent girls is constantly shrinking.
Many young women try to evade the stereotypes of sexualized identification shaped by society and the media.
The result is a photo book full of poetic image compositions. In it, the bear girls move in an archetypal, nature-oriented environment. They appear sensitive, timeless and lost. Ute Behrend also photographed animals. As in fables or fairy tales, they seem to represent human characteristics. Often far away and only very small in the picture. They don't want to be seen or touched. Much like the bear girls in this book.
Many of the girl portraits look as if Behrend came across them by accident. However, locations and actors were often carefully researched and staged. Behrend loves to capture the universal in the fleeting. And therein lies the art of making it look like it was thrown down easily, even if it's hard work.
In the interview at the end of the book, Ute Behrend refers to the psychologist Barbara Kerr, who in “Smart Girls, Gifted Women” examines the similarities between girls who later became strong women. Kerr noted that all girls have had time to themselves in the past, as well as the ability to fall in love with an idea. They all had a "protective shell". None of the girls were particularly popular in their communities and most remained relatively isolated in their age group - not because they wanted to, but because they were rejected. Interestingly, precisely this rejection created a free space in which they could develop their uniqueness.
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