Introducing Ira Thiessen. Ira is an incredibly talented photographer who recently graduated from the renowned Berlin photography school, Ostkreuzschule. Thiessen’s work is making appearances across many of the major newspapers at the moment, from the German Süddeutsche Zeitung to the British Guardian – her work is now gaining recognition all over Europe. In her work ‘Privet Germania’ (Hello Germany) she has staged portraits of Russian-German emigrant families who left Russia in the nineties in order to move back to Germany. The works portray Russian-German families in a lovable way though with a hint of irony.
Ira herself came to Germany from Bishek, Kyrgyzstan at age seven. Her family settled down in a small town close to Bielefeld in the west German state of North-Rhine Westphalia. Ira remained there as a teenager until moving to Bielefeld for work. There she completed a vocational training as a hairdresser and continued to work for the next ten years.
“One day I went to an exhibition of Michel Comte and it changed my life,” Ira tells me of her encounter with the work of one of the world’s most hailed fashion photographers. The exhibition contained a small section of war photography, and one particular picture especially moved her. “I had tears in my eyes,” Ira remembers, “I was so touched.” Ira recounts that she knew by then that she wanted to be a photographer. “My passion and love for photography has always been there although my family and friends tried to convince me that I shouldn’t give up my job.”
At the age of 27, she gave everybody the proverbial ‘fuck off’ and decided to do her thing. Ira laughs out loud. She quit her job, bought herself a camera and went traveling through Poland, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. “Everything went by so fast,” Ira remembers. With pictures from her trip Ira got accepted to Ostkreuzschule right away. “Berlin was never really my city but Ostkreuzschule really did it for me,” the young photographer says. So in 2012 she made the move to the German capital in order to study photography.
‘Privet Germania’ was Ira’s graduation work from Ostkreuzschule. She completed her degree in artistic photography and was among the best students in her class. “I simply love to work with my own ideas,” the young photographer says. “I want to stage history how it actually happened. In addition to that, I like to transport my idea of identity.” Being Russian-German herself, the topic of identity is very near to her heart. When I ask her what she thinks about Berlin? She states simply “I arrived.”. The reflection of the quest to find identity in her work is perhaps as simple as that.
Ira Thiessen is a photographer who lives and works in Berlin. Check out her website www.irathiessen.com fo