Entry Title: "Guardians of the Church"
Name: Kilian Mueller , Germany
Category and Expertise: Deeper Perspective, Student


Entry Description: What happens to a culture when those that transmit it disappear? The Transylvanian Saxons are dealing with this question for the past 25 years. This German speaking minority migrated from Romania to Germany due to their oppression under the communist regime. When the communist rulership ended in 1989, the majority of the saxon people left the country and with it the heritage of their 850 year old culture.

Story: Guardians of the Church What happens to a culture when those that transmit it disappear? The Transylvanian Saxons are dealing with this question for the past 25 years. This German speaking minority migrated from Romania to Germany due to their oppression under the communist regime. When the communist rulership ended in 1989, the majority of the saxon people left the country and with it the heritage of their 850 year old culture. The saxon people originated in Germany and settled in Transylvania, which is nowadays part of Romania, in the 12th century. They were called by the Hungarian King G├ęza II of Hungary who granted them several privileges, among them local autonomy and exemption of taxation. These privileges distinguished them from other ethnic groups and gave rise to their self-confidence. They founded more than 250 villages and cities in the region and developed a strong sense of community. In this photographic essay I want to make the consequences of this departure visible. I visited and accompanied some of the few remaining saxon people in Transylvania in 2014. In most villages there are only one or two of them left, all of them elderly people. Despite their age, they take care of the churches and show visitors around. In the portraits and still lifes of the churches and villages I'm trying to capture the story of this collective departure and how the last remaining saxons are coping with it.

About the Artist: