/ Maya Vieth / Photo story

Während wir schlafen, ziehen Wölfe um die Häuser

Between winter 2021 and summer 2022 I went in search of clues through my place of origin: a rural, sparsely populated area in the east of Germany on the border to Poland. A region that used to be a swamp until it was drained at great expense and since then has been mainly used for agriculture due to its fertile soils. The landscape is heavily scarred by the Second World War and in social structures and the built environment the affiliation to the former GDR is still noticeable. Today it furthermore has to deal with extreme drought due to climate change, a high unemployment rate and a large right-wing electorate. Another threat to many people seems to be the return of the wolves, which have been able to resettle particularly well due to the opening of the borders, the closure of heavy industries from the GDR and the resulting emergence of many wastelands, while at the same time they are somehow still leading a parallel life in the world of their symbolism and attributions.

In this way, the place grows around the past and political markers take on a new function. Spaces are rewritten, but they still carry their wounds and stories. I devoted myself to this world of interstices and in-between times and collected reports of wolf sightings. On this basis I explored these meeting places and various wolf-human relationships through photography, text and video – leaving the wolf more or less as an imagination or a metaphor. In my photographs, which move between staging and documentation, I tried to visualise space as something that also lives through the traces of the past and our projections and where a communication between civilization and nature, good and evil and all the things we are used to put opposite to each other, takes place. All of this is also about remembering my childhood and how things are perceived when one is grown up.

I have made a photo book, in which all the different stories are told. The headline of a local press article inspired me to the title Während wir schlafen, ziehen Wölfe um die Häuser (While we sleep, wolves roam around the houses). The book exists only in a small edition so far.

Maya Vieth (1996) is a German photographer. She got her BA in visual communication at the Bauhaus-University Weimar and is studying now in the class for photography and moving image at the HGB Leipzig. She is currently doing an internship at ISSP in Riga.