Sunday, July 12, 2015

Jen Osborne's portraits of Indian hobbyists

"Indians" and others in Hungary, 2013. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

Mother Jones magazine has published a series of stunning portraits of Indian hobbyists in various European countries by the Berlin-based photographer Jen Osborne. I don't have copyright permission to repost the pictures -- but do follow the link!

In them, Jen shows the seriousness of the approach taken by people in the scene.

On her web site, Jen discusses her experiences.

From 2011 until 2015, I photographed the elusive "Indian Hobbyists" situated in Hungary, Poland, Russia, Germany and the Czech Republic, as well as film sets and stills from the popular Winnetou series and other Eastern European Native American films. The subjects in my series are not "ethnically" First Nations, but Europeans who use cultural mirroring, as practiced heavily in the sixties and seventies, to claim "Indianess", as well as present themselves as sympathetic to Native Americans. This hobby was once used as a form of psychological escape from gruelling dictatorships embraced behind the iron curtain.
She also photographed some of the  locations in Croatia where the Winnetou films of the 1960s were shot.

I of course have also been photographing people and places in the wild west scene -- including Indian hobbyists -- for more than a decade, and the photos on this page are mine, not Jen's.

Karl May Festival, Radebeul, Germany, 2008. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

Tepees at a Tramp Potlach in Czech Republic

And my interest, too, goes well beyond Indian hobbyists and reenactors to include the wide range (pun intended) of people included in the Imaginary Wild West scene -- the fantasies, the yearnings, the music, the wild west theme parks, the saloons and all those elements that see-saw between the commercial and the sublime (or sublimated).

"Jim Bowie" and his wife, and "Indian maiden" at the Pullman City wild west theme park.

Czech Indian hobbyists at the German wild west theme park Pullman City

Czech frontier hobbyists at the private wild west town "Beaver City"

 Click here to see a photo gallery of some of my other Imaginary Wild West pictures