Maria Sturm’s art practice is in the visual storytelling tradition of magazine photography. Since her family is from Romania and she speaks Romanian, we asked her to portray the Romanian and Polish workers who work in these large facilities. This proved impossible, as the workers prefer to remain invisible for their own protection. Instead, Sturm decided to photograph farmers who follow alternative paths to conventional animal husbandry and agriculture. They practise year-round free-range farming, have switched to circular and organic farming, taking special care of the soil, or are committed to preserving traditional breeds and varieties on dedicated farms. The people portrayed are avant-gardists, mostly marketing their produce directly, integrated into networks such as those of community-based agriculture, the BioBoden cooperative, Kulturland e.G. or Ackersyndikat.¹ This reduces the dependence on the handful of internationally operating large corporations that dominate the market for soil, seed, fertilisers and pesticides, agricultural machinery, etc. These should be clearly distinguished from those agricultural investors who have farms operating under the organic label but sell their goods directly to retailers, undercutting the prices of farming cooperatives.
Sturm photographs pig farmers in the morning and evening light – how does the rhythm of the day imprint itself on them?
¹ Jan Brunner, Anne Neuber and Dorothee Sterz, “Arbeitsgemeinschaft Bäuerliche Landwirtschaft, Gemeinwohl statt Profite. Politische Ansätze für einen fairen und transparenten Zugang zu Land”, in: Kritischer Agrarbericht 2023, https://kritischer-agrarbericht.de/fileadmin/Daten-KAB/KAB-2023/KAB_2023_88_92_Brunner_etal.pdf (retrieved: 20.4.2023).
Born in 1985, Ploiești, RO; lives in Berlin
• 2006–2012 Studied visual communication at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Bielefeld, DE • 2015–2017 Master of Fine Arts at Rhode Island School of Design, US • Since 2017 Lecturing posts at Rhode Island School of Design und University of Applied Sciences Europe, Berlin
E 2023 Future Perfect, FOTODOKS, Munich • 2022 From Where I Stand, Biennale für aktuelle Fotografie, Mannheim, Ludwigshafen, Heidelberg, DE (C) • 2021 What’s Your Name When You’re at Home?, Penumbra Foundation, New York City • 2020 BAFFEST Foto Festival, Barakaldo, ES • 2019 Beyond, Kunsthaus Rhenania, Cologne; Forever/ Now • 2018 You don’t look native to me, Artists Unlimited, Bielefeld (SE); The Way We Live Now, Aperture Summer Open, Aperture Gallery, New York City • 2017 Outono Fotográfico, Museo Municipal, Ourense, ES
P You don’t look native to me, self-published, 2017 • For Birds’ Sake, La Fábrica, Madrid, 2015 • Be Good, self-published, 2015