The Red West
From 2011 until 2015, I photographed the elusive "Indian Hobbyists" situated in Hungary, Poland, Russia, Germany and the Czech Republic, as well as film sets and stills from the popular Winnetou series and other Eastern European Native American films. The subjects in my series are not "ethnically" First Nations, but Europeans who use cultural mirroring, as practiced heavily in the sixties and seventies, to claim "Indianess", as well as present themselves as sympathetic to Native Americans. This hobby was once used as a form of psychological escape from gruelling dictatorships embraced behind the iron curtain.
The landscapes featured in this series are film set locations from Croatia. They were used between 1960 and 1980 to make "Cowboys and Indians" films such as Winnetou parts 1, 2 and 3, Old Surehand, and Der Schatz im Silbersee. "Red Western", a term used to describe Eastern Europe's rendition of the Wild West, is a reference to communism. Tales from the former East were created in non-authentic environments, featuring non-Native American actors, and they essentially catalyzed a mirroring of Native American culture in Europe. Because this deeply private subculture (Indian Hobbyism) is still present today, I wanted to explore whether imitation is flattery.
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