Olivia Arthur

Deutschlandreise – Journey through Germany

Following the opening of his exhibition “Small World” in Paris in 1995, British photographer Martin Parr apparently received a fax from none other than Henri Cartier-Bresson, one of the founders of Magnum Photos, which said, “You are from a completely different planet to me.” He was referring to Parr’s satirical approach to photographing popular tourist destinations and the people who go there. Taken in the style of a personalized photo documentary, his pictures transcend the story and even the topic itself, making Parr, who had been accepted by Magnum just a short time before, a pioneer in the transformation of classical photo agencies in terms or their justification and function.

Four photojournalists, Olivia Arthur, Moises Saman, Peter van Agtmael and Paolo Pellegrin, have now compiled a similar “extended” photo documentary. Representing the younger generation of Magnum photographers, they were given the job of examining Germany and its citizens in the year of the parliamentary elections 2013 from the fresh, inquisitive perspective of an outsider. This joint project initiated by the Art Collection together with Magnum Photos has produced a portfolio encompassing 400 photographs. The pictures show Germany in a light that hardly makes them suitable as illustrations for a tourist advertising brochure. By placing these artists’ different perspectives and ways of working in juxtaposition, “Deutschlandreise” presents a picture of Germany that may seem unfamiliar and distant to some of its inhabitants, even in cases where they refer to the country’s way of dealing with its own past. But every now and again, we catch a glimpse of something we recognize after all: photographs that are of our country and are yet like “from a completely different planet.”

The British photographer Olivia Arthur deliberately sought out the exotic flair of carnival season in the Rheinland region and found typical motifs at parades and parties: Drunken people and couples in love, carnival princes and teenagers exhausted from their revels. She also explored various towns in the Ruhr region, capturing images of caravans surrounded by strange shrubbery and accurately trimmed front garden hedges.

Biographical information


born in London, England


receives a Diploma in Photojournalism from the London College of Printing


two and one half year sojourn in India, made possible by a grant from Fondation Jean-Luc Lagardère, Paris


one year residency at the Fabrica communication research centre in Treviso, Italy


receives the Vic Odden Award from the Royal Photographic Society, London


receives the OjodePez Award for Human Values from Photo España, Madrid


becomes a member of Magnum Photos;
receives the Inge Morath Award from Magnum Photos, Paris and the Inge Morath Foundation, New York;
publishes her first photobook, Jeddah Diary, on young women in Saudi Arabia


group exhibition “Deutschlandreise”, together with Paolo Pellegrin, Moises Saman and Peter van Agtmael, Deutsche Börse, Eschborn, Germany

lives and works in London, England.