"The Buffalo that could not dream" by Felix von der Osten

Jan 10, 2017

Felix is a German photographer who bases his work on social and cultural projects that entail a deep involvement and therefore convey true emotions and a real mood. His series “The Buffalo that could not dream” shows the struggles of the Gros Ventre and Assiniboine Tribes living in the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in the US. Quiet and strong images, depicted using a soft palette, are the exceptional stills that Felix presents and which effortlessly transport us to the territory and life of these communities that live in a permanent fight against modernity.


Following we present an interview that we had with Felix:


am - First of all thank you very much for your contribution to our project. Can you please introduce yourself for us?

FvO - My name is Felix von der Osten and I am a 27 years old photographer from Cologne, Germany. Currently I am making my Masters degree in Photography at the Fachhochschule in Dortmund. I am specially interested in social and cultural issues, documenting it with analog large- and medium- format photography, as well with the Wet Plate Collodion process. While doing that I try to make it as a freelancer.


am - How did you start in photography?

FvO - Very unspectacular. I started out doing long exposures and was fascinated by all the moving lights. Also I photographed my friends and classmates whenever I could. From there, I went down the road.


am - What inspires your work?

FvO - My main interest is to explore a place or topic guided by my curiosity. I pick a place, and then prefer to be led by my own intuition. Photographs are often then an outcome of what I’ve experienced or whom I met. I get involved in what I am doing. I don’t like to be the fly on the wall. I want to experience what I am not used to and widen my horizon through my experience, by investing some of myself. I want to create a mood in my photographs that shows a deeper level, and which a viewer can feel when they look at it. I don’t show what is too obvious, but work for more slow and thoughtful photographs. My interest lies in trying to make someone feel how it felt being there and how it would be to be a person in this place.


am - Who are your favourite photographers / artists?

FvO - Of course I am a big fan of Alec Soth & Bryan Schutmaat. Though I couldn’t name all the people I get daily inspiration from. This is why I keep a blog, just with photographs I like, which talk to me in a way. To name a few more: Dana Lixenberg, Pieter Hugo, Rob Hornstra, Hannah Modigh, Jack Latham, Todd Hido.


am - What is “The Buffalo that could not dream” about?

FvO - The project is about the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in Montana, USA. It gives an Impression of the outcome of the 1851 Appropriations Act, that forced Native Americans into Reservations, with a focus on how and where they live, as well as their struggle trying to maintain their ancient culture in the face of a twofold enemy: Ignorance by the White Man and the indifference of young people towards their own traditions. Fort Belknap is the shared homeland to the Gros Ventre and Assiniboine Tribes, who were historically enemies, but were forced to live together. My project documents this community and shows a life and circumstances that most people don’t know about. The project reflects on what people experience in a Reservation: what they do and how they try to maintain their centuries-old dying culture in the white world of America. This project lets the viewer explores a 2.626,415 square kilometers area, as it is, with its rich history in the past and present. I lived in the Reservation for a month in the end of 2014 and for four and a half weeks in the summer of 2015. This collection of photographs should show my view of what I saw in my time there, and the people that I met.


am - When you are not taking pictures, what do you do?

FvO - Live and talk about it.


am - If you could travel and stay in a place for one year, where would you choose to go?

FvO - I would return to Montana. No question.


am - What’s your favourite movie?

FvO - Very hard to say. Maybe Barry Lyndon by Kubrick or Star Wars.


am - What are you reading at the moment?

FvO - "The Girls with the lower back tattoo" by Amy Schumer.


am - Do you have any project in mind that could be a personal or professional challenge?

FvO - Not really but any meaningful project should be a personal & professional challenge.


am - What is your favourite photo book?

FvO - I think it would be “Grey the Mountain Sends” by Bryan Schutmaat.


am - Thank you very much for your time and your contribution to analog magazine.

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