Vivian Rutsch

There are two things that death has taught photographer Vivian Rutsch: you cannot lose someone you love, and every conceivable cruelty exists. Rutsch’s sister died on 2 March 2018; she was 17 years old. When she went missing and was discovered dead the following day, everyone involved assumed she had committed suicide. However, a growing number of inconsistencies cast doubt on the official version of events. Entries from her diary have revealed that she had been sexually abused. Moreover, six months before the tragedy, the photographer’s younger half-sister had reported that her father had subjected her to sexual acts. The public prosecutor’s office has not conducted any review of the case. The case has twice been submitted for reopening and twice been rejected. It is one of the many cases in Germany that may remain unsolved forever. A photographic essay that asks questions which remain unanswered.

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

As a photographer, one of my most crucial moments came when I photographed the coffin of my dead sister. When I stood by the coffin with my camera, I knew that the picture would stay with me for my entire life. I had to document what had happened for myself so that on the following day, I would be able to remember that it had actually occurred.

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

I’ve been taking photos of my family since I was fourteen. Back then I didn’t know where it would lead me. It’s a gift that I was able to rediscover my own language through photography. Telling our story is my way of leaving powerlessness behind.

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

To me, the future of visual journalism is transparent, courageous, multifaceted and honest. The era of the global pandemic can teach us to take new paths and find out how best to communicate with our target groups. I see that as a great opportunity.


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Still Here – Photobook © Vivian Rutsch

Curated by Jasmina Hanf

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

*1994 in Öhringen, Germany
Vivian Rutsch studied Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at Hanover University of Applied Sciences and Arts and at the Belfast School of Art. She currently lives in Dortmund, where she is completing her master’s degree in Photography. Her work concentrates primarily on social and humanitarian topics; it has received the BFF Promotional Scholarship two years in a row. Rutsch’s project about German tourism on Mallorca has received more than five million clicks on SPIEGEL Online.


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