/09 Adolescence

Frank Rothe

Running Trough The Wind

“As a twelve year old boy, I was put on a list for a summer camp in the
Soviet Union. Only the best of the former Pioneer Organisation in the
GDR were on that list. I was quite surprised about that. To make it short I
was soon deleted from the list. Some of my classmates went to the
camp, called Artek on the Crimean peninsula, which today belongs to the
Ukraine. After their vacation and return to school, all of them spoke very
good Russian, because they had spent their time with other Pioneers
from all over the Eastern Block and their main language was Russian.
Seven years later at the age of 19 I travelled around the world, starting in
Africa and ending up in China, it was not planned, but I had no other
choice. With the remaining money I bought a ticket on a ferry boat from
Hong Kong to China and a train ticket from Beijing to Moscow. It was in
I never wanted to go to Russia, because of the pressure we had at
school to learn Russian, often against our will. But in 1991 China, I was
quite happy to hold a cheap train ticket back home to Europe via
Moscow. When I arrived in Moscow there was a Revolution going on,
tanks were on the streets and there was shooting at the White House. In
the evening everything was quiet and the Russians demolished the
statue of the KGB founder Felix Dzerzhinsky on Ljubjanka in the centre
of Moscow. I watched it and had the feeling that Russia could be a place
to return. I went home studied Russian and since then have been back
many times.
In 2004, I planned my project “Running Through The Wind”. After all the
changes in the Eastern Block, I was very interested to get to know the
younger generation of the Former Soviet Union. Therefore I chose the
Artek summer camp, the place whose list I was on as a boy. I got the
information that the camp still exists and that it’s as big as a small city
and still today thousands of youngsters spend their summer vacation
there. Today parents have to pay for the vacation and there is no list for
the good ones anymore.
I went there and found what I was looking for: the new generation of the
East – I photographed them as they were, with no flash, no tripod, only
using natural light at day and night time. What I found out during my
interviews on a video camcorder was that the young generation has not
changed much, except they don’t talk about politics anymore, because
they don’t need to. But what makes them different from the youngsters in
the West is that time is not money. So everything goes slower, people
talk to each other and sleep in the same rooms. For me as a
photographer it was a journey back in time. I travelled back into a period
of my life, which does not exist anymore. This generation belonging to
neither West nor East I call “Running Through The Wind”, because there
is nothing to give them a direction for their future, except washing their
hands before they go to eat or having to sleep between 2 and 4 pm.
During the period I stayed with all those kids and teenagers I
rediscovered some big and small pieces of my childhood. Today as an
adult and as a somehow quite experienced photographer, I have
captured those moments on film and produced what I was looking for for
a long time – my personal masterpiece.”