With this knowledge, the foundation of Piepke’s life seemed to falter a little. And that made him wonder if he really knew his country. He began to wonder what it meant to be “German”.
Along with this fundamental question, Piepke began to ask questions such as “How do we interpret our history?” “How do you identify with him?” “What speaks for or against the idea of collective identity? »
Armed with these questions, Piepke set out on a journey through rural Germany, in search of answers. His research resulted in the “Anecdotes from an Unknown Country” project, an ironic and in-depth attempt to tackle issues of identity.
Piepke’s photos combine a sense of surrealism with a heavy dose of dry humor. There is also an undeniable beauty in the care he takes in the making of the images. They try to find answers, but there’s always this tugging sensation at the back of the brain: Is does it mean to be german?
Life rarely gives us clear answers to our questions. You can see it in Piepke’s journey. Sometimes just asking is enough. And as Piepke told In Sight:
“I want to rediscover this country, examine the unnoticed and the forgotten, let myself be surprised — find my own Germany. I look for occasions where people escape from their everyday life, identify with traditions and history and thus take on roles, dress up or put themselves on stage. Moments that we, as outsiders to these communities, barely notice, are lined up to form a tragicomic narrative of Germany. The provocative question remains: what does it mean to be “German”?
You can see more of Piepke’s work on his website, here.
In Sight is The Washington Post’s photography blog dedicated to visual storytelling. This platform features captivating and diverse images from staff and freelance photographers, news agencies and archives. If you would like to submit a story to In Sight, please complete this form.