Themmuns is a photo project on youth in Northern Ireland.

The title refers to a slang word for „them ones“, the opposing side in Northern Ireland debates among Catholic Irish Republicans and Protestant Loyalists. Fellow members of one‘s own side are known as ›ussuns‹.

With UK’s 2016 Brexit referendum Nothern Ireland would have to leave the European Union in 2019 although a majority of its citizens voted to remain. Local Protestant Loyalists predominantly supported Brexit whereas the other fraction of mainly Catholic Irish Republicans were against it. After more than 30 Years of conflict during the so called ›Troubles‹ one of the fundamentals of the Peace Process declared in the 1998 Good Friday Aggreement is the open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland – wich will, in a post Brexit scenario become an external border of the European Union. Now there is serious concern that such a hard border was very likely to undermine and threaten the Peace Process in Northern Ireland.

In my project I was interested in exploring daily life situations with youth from both confessional communities and find out more about their concerns, surroundings and way of life. These observations may often have revealed more similarities than differences of lifestyle in a world of sectarian strife and political conflict mainly maintained by the older generation and recently blazed up again through the Brexit referendum. The work is about an empathic and sensitive view on whatever I felt could contribute to a comprehensive documentary of a social condition and a young generation’s quest for identity.

The structure of the comprehensive body of work follows prevailing geographical demarcations with chapters each referring to a specific neighbourhood in Belfast or Northern Ireland with its corresponding ethnopolitical and confessional orientations.

Jens Schwarz

Jens Schwarz, born 1968 in Berlin, studied history of arts in Paris and photography in Munich. As a visual artist and photographer he works in the documentary field on personal artistic projects and international editorial assignments. In his work he focuses on sociopolitical issues that often deal with questions of both the individual and social identity. His projects received several grants throughout his career and his work has been nominated, among others, for the German Henri-Nannen-Prize and showcased at Les Rencontres de la Photographie, Arles, France.

Awards & Grants

2018 Luma Rencontres Dummy Book Award Arles 2018, France; finalist ›Themmuns‹ 2018 Meitar Award 2018, Tel Aviv, Israel, finalist, ›Themmuns‹ 2018 Photobook Week Aarhus Dummy Award 2018, Denmark, finalist, ›Themmuns‹ 2018 Direct Look photo contest, Moscow, Russia, finalist ›Themmuns‹ 2017 VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn; project grant ›Themmuns – Youth in Northern Ireland‹ 2012 Henri Nannen Preis; shortlist best photo reportage; ›Die innere Unsicherheit – Bilder aus Beirut‹ 2009 VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn; project-grant ›Beirut Eight Thirteen‹ 2009 Photography Award of the City of Munich; nomination (exhibition)

Exhibitions (Selection)

2019 ›Displaced‹ (solo exhibition), Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, USA 2019 ›Themmuns‹ (group exhibition), Format International Photography Festival, Derby, UK 2019 ›Themmuns‹ (group exhibition), Head On Photo Festival, Sydney, Australia 2018 ›Themmuns‹ (screening), Les Rencontres de la Photographie, Arles, France 2018 ›Themmuns‹ (group exhibition), Photo Is:rael, Tel Aviv, Israel 2018 ›Themmuns‹ (screening), Getxophoto International Image Festival, Getxo, Basque Country 2018 ›Themmuns‹ (book presentation), Preus National Museum of Photography, Horten, Norway 2017 ›Mleeta – Hezbollah theme park‹ (installation), Der Greif – Panama Plus, München 2015 ›Rec by‹ (group exhibition), EasyUpstream gallery, München 2015 ›Displaced‹ (pop-up exhibition), Lost Weekend bookstore, München 2014 ›Beirut Eight Thirteen‹ (solo exhibition), Fotomuseum, München 2012 ›Ping / Pong‹ (group exhibition), Kunstraum, München 2009 ›Beirut Zero Eight‹ (group exhibition), Kunsthalle Lothringer13 – Förderpreise 2009, München 2005 ›Beweg‘ dich, dann bewegt sich was‹, photo-installation, QUIVID-Arts programme, München