German photographer Birte Kaufmann has spent time over the last three years with a family of Irish gypsies, referred to as The Travellers, staying in their Volkswagen camper. Traditionally the Travellers were accepted in their country, like migrant workers, but in today’s world, they live on the fringes of society.
One family she depicts, a man with nineteen children and grandchildren, shuffles between living on the side of the road and at a halting site. Each time Kaufmann returns, she gains more access, which has been especially challenging due to the strict separation of gender roles in the community, she says. “As close as I have managed to get to their community, it is still difficult for me to have a clear insight into the male traditions. I have often heard the sentence, ‘Birte, the women are over there! Go there!'”
Kaufmann’s series presents a range of environmental portraits and intimate moments within a community that is misunderstood by outsiders. Her drive to document them without stigma has garnered her international awards and exhibitions, along with a Wüestenrot grant that will allow her to complete her project. She is currently en route to Ireland, planning to stay two and a half weeks with the community.
Kaufmann’s series “The Travellers” is featured in a number of current and upcoming exhibitions and was a winner in the 2013 PDN Photo Annual in the Documentary category. View the rest of the winners and visit the Photo Annual site for information on how to enter this year’s annual. The final deadline is February 25th.