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Birthe Piontek January 23, 2012

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Canada.
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Dawson City, Yukon, Canada 2010

Birthe Piontek
(b.1976, Germany) moved to Canada in 2005 after receiving her MFA from the University of Essen in Communication Design and Photography. Her work has been exhibited internationally at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago and the Museum of Applied Arts in Gera, Germany. In 2008, she was named one of PDN’s 30, and has been a finalist for the Santa Fe Prize in Photography. Her project The Idea of North won the Critical Mass Book Award in 2009, and was published as a monograph in 2011. Birthe’s work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Wired and Die Zeit, among others. She is represented by Charles Guice Contemporary in New York City and Kominek Gallery in Berlin.

About the Photograph:

“This image is part of a project called The Idea of North, a series I shot in Dawson City, Yukon. It deals with a recurrent theme in my photographic work: individuation and the struggles of people to belong and yet to be different at the same time. The fast-paced, anonymous life of the urban environment sometimes offers neither the time nor space for individualization, nor the comforting place needed for belonging. So, for some, the sense of freedom and interdependence intrinsic to a remote, Northern community makes it an idealized symbol of the Promised Land. Dawson City is known for its rough exterior, attracts people interested in an alternative way of living, and, as a former gold mining town, holds its fair share of dark secrets. During my stay there, I met Myriam. Originally from Germany, she moved to the Yukon several years ago. She learned how to build her own log cabin and now enjoys living off the grid, which in her case means neither having running water or electricity, but instead having her own garden and owning a couple of sled dogs. The photo was taken outside her cabin on a long summer evening.”

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