Sina Niemeyer
Für Mich

“You taught me what it’s like to be a butterfly, but only to immediately break my wings”, writes Sina Niemeyer in her diary. She combines various artistic techniques, photographs found objects, places and herself, destroys books and pastes them over. This is how she uses images and texts to relate how she was sexually abused as a child. It is a self-reflective revelation and an attempt to find her own identity. On different levels, she shows what sexual abuse can mean for a person’s life by visualising vague, subtle emotions that are often difficult to describe in words. According to statistics, every third to fifth woman faces sexual abuse in her lifetime. This project reminds those affected that they are not alone and hopes to encourage them to express their feelings in order to heal.

  • Abuse
  • Family
  • Loneliness
  • Memory
  • Personal
  • Story

»You taught me how to be a butterfly only so you could break my wings.«

Sina Niemeyer
The photo book is another part of the whole body of work and shows a deeper insight into her experience of sexual abuse. Here you get a small preview.
3 Questions
1. The door opener: Can you describe a formative moment in your career as a visual journalist?

It came when I was working on a reportage about a friend’s mother who has lived with multiple sclerosis for many years. We had gone on holiday together and were sharing a room at a youth hostel. At that time, Konny, my friend’s mother, was already in a wheelchair: her speech and motor movements were severely limited. While my friend was helping her mother wash early one morning, I started taking photos of her from the bed and asked her if that was all right. She said, “Yes, of course” On the evening of that same day – in the evenings, in bed, Konny could always speak much better – she told me that she actually felt uncomfortable because her disease meant that so many people had to see her naked, but that she had stopped caring so much because by that time, so many different care workers had washed her. I decided that there was no way I would use those photos. It was further proof of how difficult it is to decide to show other people’s suffering. It is an inherent criticism that I level at classic photojournalism.

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

The topic of my own experiences with sexual abuse as a child had accompanied me for half my life. Long before I even studied Photography or really examined that trauma, I already felt that someday I would want to speak openly about it. In psychotherapy sessions I noticed that that way of processing things wasn’t enough.

Then there were several coincidences and projects, for instance by Laia Abril, Mafalda Rakos and Arzu Sandal, that showed me how it can be possible to process a topic like that photographically and artistically.

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

I think journalism – both visual and written – will become even more diverse and interdisciplinary. This development has been clear for a number of years. Classic forms are being called into question and deliberately ruptured; various disciplines are being combined: there is no lack of courage when it comes to trying new things. The multifaceted presentation possibilities we have (online, books, magazines, public space) result in myriad possibilities to show projects and adapt them again and again to various surroundings and recipients. Social networks have reinforced a culture of individualism where the personal and subjective take centre stage, which is why individual fates are often perceived more acutely as representative of problems that affect society overall than are all-encompassing reportages that shed factual light on a problem with all its inherent factors. Personally, I’m a big fan of collaboration and I believe that in the future, different art forms will more often be interwoven as a way of telling stories. A lot of the time, visual language is not enough. Some things can be told better in illustrations or texts, others with video, painting or even sculpture. For me, visual journalism does not exclude any of these things.


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Photographer Sina Niemeyer speaks about her way of working and why her project “Für Mich.” was career changing.

Found in Research

Das Erste
Missbrauch und die Folgen, television broadcast about Sina Niemeyer's project “Für Mich.”, published on 4 August 2019, available until 4 August

“Für Mich” – Bookstore Ceiba Editions

Ceiba Editions – Portrait

fisheye magazine

Better Photography

Bird in Flight

Curated by Magdalena Vidovic

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

*1991 in Germany
Sina Niemeyer studied Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at Hanover University of Applied Sciences and Arts as well as at the Danish School of Media in Journalism in Aarhus. Her work thematises intimacy, interpersonal relationships and feminism. With her final project “Für mich”, she won both the Young Talent Prize and the follow-up grant from “gute aussichten” magazine. The project has also been shown internationally. Niemeyer works for several German magazines and currently lives in Berlin.


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