SVETLANA BIRYUKOVA

This work focuses on a family from Kosovo seeking asylum in Germany. They belong to the ethnic group of Ashkali, who form an ethnic minority of approx. 1% of the Kosovo’s population among the Albanian Kosovans majority.

Torgauerstrasse

This work focuses on a family from Kosovo seeking asylum in Germany. They belong to the ethnic group of Ashkali, who form an ethnic minority of approx. 1% of the Kosovo’s population among the Albanian Kosovans majority. Similarly to Roma and Balkan Egyptians, they live in their villages and cities, predominantly in cities in Eastern Kosovo like Ferizaj, where the portrayed family comes from. All but a few of the Ashkali people in Kosovo are unemployed and although they are not persecuted, they are consistently discriminated against by the Albanian ethnic majority, making it hard for them to find their place within society and to find work.

In Kosovo, conflicts and issues involving the Ashkali remain absent from the media, since the Ashkali don’t belong to Albanian or Serbian ethnicity. Their physical features also lead them to be mistaken for Roma, though they don’t consider themselves as such, nor do they speak the Romani language. They speak Albanian and they are Muslim like the Albanian majority in Kosovo.

The family portrayed in this photo-documentary has been living in Asylum seekers’ hostels in Germany for approximately eight months, five months of them in Leipzig. With the legal status they have in Germany they cannot leave Leipzig. The parents aren’t allowed to work in Germany or visit German language courses, nor can the children go to school. They spend their days and months monotonously doing the same routine such as visiting the immigration office or more often just being bored and isolated from the city. They are waiting and hoping to be granted asylum, to get their own place to live and a chance to go to school and get a job.

The setting of these photographs is limited to the asylum seekers’ hostel and the surrounding area, to emphasize the isolated condition these people are kept in. Firstly, they are isolated from the majority population in their own country; secondly as refugees, they are also isolated in Germany. These family portraits thus bring out the tension between displaced individual bodies and the social bodies that absorb or reject them.

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Svetland Biryukova was born in Moscow, Russia in 1983.
She currently lives and works in Leipzig.
Her work can be found here.

One comment

  • Wonderful collection of photographs and great photographer. Very relevant topic in view of the mass migration of immigrants around the world these days..

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