Birte Kauffman ‘The Travellers’ / by Travis W Keyes

The Travellers

Birte Kaufmann was born in 1981. She lives and works in Berlin, Germany. She is a visual storyteller focusing on social and society relevant issues. Her work has earned her several Awards and Grants, and has been exhibited worldwide.

The Travellers

Birte Kaufman: I have always been fascinated by the way photography can reveal moments in life. It was the area of photojournalism that interested me the most and I became influenced by works such as those from the early magnum photographers (as well as minimally conceptual documentary work).

Initially I wasn’t sure if I wanted to make photography my profession, and I opted to first study social work with a focus on media pedagogics. My studies did, however, involve the subject of photography and it was here that my professor Dr. Wiedemann encouraged me to explore photography deeper.

With the his help and mentor-ship, after graduation I decided to continue down the path of photography. In 2009 I made the move to Berlin in order to further my studies in photography at Ostkreuzschule.

The Travellers

The Travellers are Ireland’s biggest minority group, with a size of between 20,000 to 30,000 in population. This group has a nomadic origin, stemming from the tradition of migrant workers.

As this tradition no longer exists, The Travellers are looking for a new identity within the Western European society of the 21st century. Their origin still isn’t clear and they speak their own language called Gammon. To this day, some of the Traveller families live by the roadside illegally — mostly without electricity, running water or sanitation — even though the government has provided halting sites for them where they are able to stay with their caravans.

The Travellers