An invented story at the beginning of this book is showing the limits of reality. Nothing is certain, yet we are willing to believe anything.
Protecting the Self
Adolescence. A fictitious “Indian tribe” separates its pubescent girls from other group members and dresses them in bearskins in order to protect them from premature sexualization. Thus a shelter is created that allows the girls to develop freely and self-determinedly in this important phase of their lives. Behrend calls them “bear girls” and draws parallels to our society, in which free spaces for adolescent girls are constantly diminishing.
Bear girls are a perfect antithesis to Lolita, the child woman invented by Vladimir Nabokov. On the back cover of the photo book she quotes from John Irving’s novel “Hotel New Hampshire”: It’s funny,’ Susie said, ‘I’m not really a big fighter, but nobody tries to mess with a bear. All I have to do is grab a guy like that and he’ll roll up and start whimpering. (…) Nobody fights back when you’re a bear.’ Susie, after being sexually assaulted, she uses a bearskin to protect her identity.
An ancient idea. The Greek goddess Artemis dressed her playmates in bearskins to shelter them from the sexual desire of men.
Ute Behrend’s photo book is filled with poetic compositions. Using the emotional power of images, she formulates new mysteries. The bear girls move in them as if immersed in an archetypically nature-oriented environment. They seem timeless and delicately sensitive.
Many of the girls’ portraits look as if they were taken in random situations. The opposite is the case. Behrend has carefully researched and staged places as well as actors. And just like in a fictional story, there are also wild animals to be admired. Often far away and quite small in size within the image. They neither want to be seen nor touched – just like the bear girls in this book.
BUMMBUMM BOOKS is new in the publishing landscape, having the ambitious goal of reclaiming the poetic space – in the form of photo books such as this one by co-editor Ute Behrend, of fine art prints or of freedom books dedicated to the very personal concepts of freedom. Sharp eyes, current topics of dispute, carefull design and outstanding print quality characterize the ambitious program.
Book Launch and signing
Book launch & signing of Bärenmädchen / Bear Girls by Ute Behrend on Thursday 7.11.19, 17:00 at Café Lehmitz Photobooks @Polycopies, Port de Solferino, 75007 Paris
An edition of Ute Behrend’s Bear Girls (BUMMBUMM BOOKS, 2019), will be available at £45. It was winner at Julia Margret Cameron Award, open theme categorie, (ESP), shortlisted at Felix Schoeller Photo Award 2019 / Portrait (D) and is the Finalist for the 2019 Emerging Photographer Fund, Burn Magazine (USA), the Finalist for the 2019 LensCulture Art Photography Award (NL), Finalist and Exhibition at Helsinki Photo Festival (FI), Celebrating the Photobook, Photo Festival in Athen (GR) and Finalist Portraits for the Hellerau Photography Award (D).
Bärenmädchen | Beargirls 2019
Hardcover, thread-stitching, blind embossing
22 x 29,7 cm
128 pages, 96 coloured and 1 b/w-illustration
Edition of 549 Ex.
Price 45,– €
Contributions by Barbara Hofmann-Johnson, Ute Behrend
Translation Tom Ashforth
Illustrations Karla-Jean v. Wissel
Design Florian v. Wissel
November 02, 2019 to December 31, 2019