Travel and the desire to experience new cultures are the foundation of Frank Rothes lifestyle. Born in Berlin, Germany, the extensive traveling he did as a child and youngster, lead him to become a magazine and newspaper writer at the age of 19. His desire to expand his creative work resulted in him photographing the experiences he was chronicling via writing and using the images to supplement his articles. This decision launched Rothes career as a photographer. Over the last decade he has been shooting and exhibiting internationally. He has worked on campaigns and as a staff photographer for international and national publications. His work has been exhibited throughout the world and also published as photographic books. Frank Rothe speaks fluent English, Russian and German. He is currently based in Berlin and Budapest. Today we share his series Running Through the Wind.
Running Through 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 Organization 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 1991. 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 longer a list for the “good ones”.
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.
To view more of Frank’s work, please visit his website.