Artist Blog

Every week an artist whose single image was published by Der Greif is given a platform in which to blog about contemporary photography.

Room for Freedom

May 21, 2018 - Piotr Pietrus


Raphaele is probably about 40 years old and if you get to meet her one day you’ll see that she has long black hair and dresses casually, usually loose t-shirt, shorts and sandals in summer. But what will catch your attention the most are the two large, heavy backpacks she wears: one on her back, and one on her front. She might take the time to show you what she is carrying around: bundles of paintings, drawings and poems, all meticulously bound together. The quantity and level of detail is surprising, but once you get to know her, that’s only the start.


She has invented her own font, she speaks a mix of English and German, and an entirely parallel language that is somehow a mix of both, but completely different, like a code message for the world to decipher. It’s the same for her poems, she might ask you to write a poem on a piece of paper or cardboard and then right in front of your eyes works her own words over and between them like a kind of written word rap artist.



Painting by Raphaele Pettinger, 2014


She lives with a disability, but the name of it I couldn’t tell you. The reason I don’t know it is that I know her through Kunterbunt, a travel agency for people living with various types of disabilities. Based in south Germany, Kunterbunt’s philosophy emphasises a respectful and easy approach towards the individual. Based on this idea the travellers are allowed to find themselves in the very rare occasion where the usual structures, borders and roles that define their everyday life no longer exist. Whether they are able do it consciously or not, for a while they can experience a freedom and room for self-expression that every person is deeply longing for.


I have been collaborating with Kunterbunt for 12 years now. Being on the road and documenting their time is a unique opportunity to gain insight into a world unknown to most of us. It is easy to fill a book with the countless experiences of every trip but what remains so special for me is the real honesty I have been confronted with. So refreshingly different from ‘our’ life, the travellers I meet don’t, or better, mostly don’t wear masks, they simply are themselves. Their inner child can be very inspiring and remind us of our own one.


The photos I have chosen above have been taken just last week on a special trip where participants worked intensly with a group of artists to produce artworks for Kunterbunt’s 25 year anniversary exhibition, to be held in 2019.


Find more info about Kunterbunt on their instagram or website.