Patricia Kühfuss
Nicht müde werden

The work carried out by healthcare practitioners is of great value to society; however, their working conditions do not reflect this. Financial requirements determine the daily routine; carers must look after more and more patients in less and less time. In a system that measures every action with money, no one considers that good care takes specialist knowledge and, above all, time. Healthcare work is a highly complex profession that requires technical, medical and interpersonal competence. It is difficult to depict this work on the visual level, for care touches people’s private space and questions the limits to what can be shown. Therefore, the media often serve up a symbolic image of a care worker pushing a bed, and the true achievements behind care work remain invisible. Patricia Kühfuss’ photographs direct our view to the people who reach the limits of their capacity in looking after others. They show the real, day-to-day working lives of healthcare workers in German hospitals.

For the presentation of the digital Lumix Festival 2020, curators Jonas Dengler and Kai Nolda, together with photographer Patricia Kühfuss, interviewed health and nursing professionals Thorid G., Jennifer G. and Anna W. about the images of the photographic work. You can hear excerpts from this conversation via the audio tracks below the pictures.

  • Everyday Life
  • Germany
  • The Future
  • Work

»I believe that the subject of nursing is so unknown to many people, and that just so few real images are created, is simply because it is a taboo subject. Many people don't want to deal with it at all.«

Thorid G., Nurse

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The photographer Patricia Kühfuss talks about her work “Nicht müde werden”, the nursing crisis in Germany and about stereotypes in the nursing profession.

3 Questions
1. The door opener: Can you describe a formative moment in your career as a visual journalist?

I recognised something banal but important when I was working on my story about olive trees dying out in Italy: I had done weeks of research but didn’t have the feeling that I was properly prepared. There were a thousand reasons not to fly to Italy, but I went anyway. When I got there, so many doors opened and I understood that we create paths as we walk. This was confirmed with nursing as well. Control is a myth; things will be different from what you have imagined. But you can consciously decide to just go and then keep on going.

2. The decisive moment: When did you first encounter your topic and why did you decide to cover it photographically?

When I started studying, I lived with several nurses, who told me a lot. I soon wondered why their work situation was so bad when it’s so obvious how important care is for getting healthy. I was also astounded at how little I knew and why there were so few picture stories about this state of affairs. I was always told how difficult it was to gain access. It was crucial that for my bachelor’s project, I wanted to photograph a topic that was important to me. So I set off again, and again the doors opened.

3. The future: What could the visual journalism of the future be like?

The many innovative picture projects that are being created today have an unbelievable potential for telling stories. In order to make them widely accessible, it’s important to break up the structure that still dominates in editorial offices: first comes the text, which is then “pictured”. Picture and text should be treated equally; both have advantages and disadvantages when it comes to passing on information. A text editor needs to be competent with pictures and vice versa in order to recognise possible narrative forms that can be unbelievably engaging. The ubiquity of pictures doesn’t just have negative consequences. I believe that readers have greater access to pictures and the circumstances surrounding their creation. It’s possible to thematise picture competence, to ask questions to which no one has the answers yet.

How could the nursing profession be made more attractive?


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Fabian B., nurse at IMC (Intermedia Care Station), in the morning after his nightshift. In August 2020 the collective agreements of the municipal hospitals will be renegotiated. This would be the opportunity to improve the salaries of the nursing staff.

Curated by Jonas Dengler & Kai Ivo Nolda

© for all photos by the photographers
© for all videos Lumix Festival Hanover, if not indicated otherwise.

*1988 in Oberndorf am Neckar, Germany
Patricia Kühfuss studied Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at Hanover University of Applied Sciences and Arts and the Danish School of Media and Journalism in Aarhus until 2018. Since then, she has been working as a freelance photographer and is represented by the laif agency. She received the VG Bild-Kunst scholarship in 2019 and took second place at the Sony World Photo Award in 2018. Her work has been published in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, GEO, National Geographic US and ZEIT Magazin.


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