The origin of the marksmen ́s clubs in Germany goes back to the militias for civil defense during the Middle Ages. Their motto, “Faith, Customs and Homeland” is still written on their flags today.
Every year they hold the “Schützenfest”, an annual festival which lasts three days and consists of a church procession, marches through the village, honors and dances.
The highlight of every festival is the shooting competition on a wooden bird to elect the annual King. Besides a few exceptions, most of these clubs and brotherhoods have strict rules, do not allow women as members and represent conservative Christian values. The small villages in Germany have a strong sense of community and a deep attachment to their territory which is mainly shaped by cultivating this tradition and their regional customs.
Growing up in one of these small villages and visiting the local marksmen’s festivals from childhood on has led the photographer to reflect on his personal experiences within this tradition. From 2015 on, he has visited 31 festivals in order to question the attachment to traditions and to examine the theatre-like procedure of the festival.
Photo copyright: © Arne Piepke
Arne Piepke (1991) grew up in a small village surrounded by hills and trees. His attitude towards photography was shaped by an urge to break out and explore. He deals with social issues and the people‘s connection to history and their surroundings. With his photos, he wants to raise questions that provoke viewers into an examination of the issues and position themselves within the scene itself.
He is a founding member of DOCKS collective and is currently attending the MA Photographic Studies in Dortmund.
Arne was a finalist of the W. Eugene Smith Student Grant and winner of the PDN Emerging Photographers and the PDNedu Student Contest. His work was published in FAZ Woche, Tagesspiegel Sonntag, Duesseldorf Photoweekend, PDNedu Fall, Spiegel Online, Nikon Magazine, PDN Emerging Photographer, among others.