The personal is political. And political we are.
This weekend was nerve-wrecking in Austria but also in Europe. With the option of a far-right president in Europe the entire European Union has looked upon this election nervously. For the first time the presidential candidates have been neither from the Social democrats nor the Conservative Party but instead a far-right wing candidate versus an outspoken environmentalist and economist. This is a first in the Second Republic. The Social-democrats and the Conservatives have split power amongst themselves for a long time and have become somewhat indistinguishable to many voters. In a series of elections beforehand their reign has continuously diminished, giving rise to not only more diversity in our political landscape but also a strong right-wing agenda. So this year's presidential elections have culminated to these two antipodes: right and left. And as it turns out, Austria feels 50:50 about it.
Had you asked me before this election about my assessment of the political temperature in Austria, I would have never guessed that. Historically, we have to assume a good 30% going right so seeing that it came as far as it did was beyond shocking to me. Of course, today we are relieved to know that the pendulum is still a bit more left than it is right but frankly, I am far from being content. With close to 50% of the Austrian population being okay with a neo-fascist mindset (or being willing to ignore it), it is necessary for us, the other 50+% to look closely at where we are and what we can contribute to a socially just, humanitarian, and prosperous Austria.
It was just this weekend that we shot a campaign for an institution we wholeheartedly support: the Maedchenzentrum, aimed at advancing girls and young women in their professional choices. The campaign was to highlight gender sensitive and reflective youth in various situations. And while we contributed to developing the concept for different motives, we ultimately shot what came about naturally. And what we saw is precisely the Austria I know and care about: caring, active, curious, and community building kids, interested in one another. Looking at these pictures, I almost have a sense of local pride.
As a side note, the kids who were invited to partake in this shoot were all friends and family including two boys from Afghanistan who fled to Austria six months ago. The scenes below are either behind-the-scenes images or photographs with little to no direction.