Thirteen HsH students show their work at the Lokschuppen in Rosenheim.

Photo: Tetyana Chernyavska

Heroes – do they still exist in this day and age? For one semester in the summer of 2023, photography students explored the question of who is a hero in their eyes. But they also questioned, who can’t be a hero under any circumstances. Under the supervision of Professor Lars Bauernschmitt, a diverse collection of photographic works has been created. Some contributions deal with previously unknown heroes, while others question the heroism of well-known personalities. Some of the people depicted are everyday heroes, while others risk their physical integrity and sometimes even their lives.

The pictures have been on display in the “HELDINNEN & HELDEN” exhibition at the Lokschuppen in the Bavarian town of Rosenheim since March 7, 2024. The works will be on display there until December 15. The stories were created as part of a semester assignment: the students were asked to portray a person or a group. They were asked to explain why these people are heroes in their eyes or why not. As part of the seminar , the students reflected not only on the people being portrayed, but also on the creation of the portraits.

Photo: Lennart Holste

The exhibited pictures include the work of Lennart Holste, for example. He discusses a statue of Gandhi that the controversial Indian President Modi had erected in Hanover. However, Lennart Holste notes that the view of Ghandi is changing in our time: For example, Ghandi held women partly responsible for rape they experienced – according to Ghandi, they themselves were to blame if they were too weak to defend themselves. Moreover, although Ghand denounced the oppression of the untouchable caste, he denied them a political voice. Lennart Holste himself says about his work: “For me, it shows that even the greatest hero, who enjoys international recognition and is idealized, is not flawless.”

Photo: Armina Ahmadina

Armina Ahmadina, on the other hand, followed Najib Faizi, the first Afghan drag queen. Faizi experienced discrimination and rejection in Afghanistan because of her sexual orientation. She then decided to come to Germany. There she began publishing videos as a drag queen. In those videos, Faizi also addresses the importance of women’s rights in Iran. “For me, Najib is a great heroine who gives so much to create a better world, full of dedication and also giving up her safety and her home,” writes student Armina Ahmadina.

Photo: Noemi Ehrat

Noemi Ehrat takes a closer look at the Dutch doctor Gabie Raven. She opened an abortion clinic in Dortmund in 2022. This is the third clinic that Gabie Raven has run. Raven chose Dortmund because many women from there traveled to the Netherlands to terminate their pregnancies. The reason: there was a lack of abortion facilities in the region. “Hate mail and abuse are part of everyday life for Gabie and her team. Opponents of abortion even travel from abroad to protest outside her clinic,” reports Noemi Ehrat.

Photo: Henryc Fels

Henryc Fels found three people who save food from the trash by “containerizing”. The problem is that this makes them liable to prosecution twice over. On the one hand, they are committing trespassing, on the other grand theft. Henryc Fels is full of admiration for his protagonists: “They are heroes to me because they rescue discarded food at great personal risk and distribute it to other people.”

Photo: Tetyana Chernyavska

Ukrainian student Tetyana Chernyavska focused on heroism in her home country: she portrayed non-commissioned officer Maksym Abramov, who was seriously injured by Russians in Bachmut in 2022. After gradually recovering from his injuries, he returned to the front as a clergyman to “save the souls of his comrades.” After the war, Abramov and his wife wanted to adopt children who had lost their parents. Student Tetyana Cheryavska concludes: “Such soldiers symbolize the strength and will of the Ukrainian people. It is important to pay tribute to them.”

Kevin Hönicke at home. He tries to maintain his role as a politician and father out of a sense of responsibility. Photo: Sophie Boyer

Sophie Boyer looks at how men deal with mental health crises. She photographed the SPD politician Kevin Hönicke. He is the deputy district mayor of the Berlin district of Lichtenberg. At the beginning of 2023, he went public with his depression. On his website, he described how he had refused to accept the illness. The illness therefore turned from a mild negative mood to a very severe depression. In the end, it almost cost him his life. For student Sophie Boyer, he is therefore a hero: by revealing his vulnerability in his family and professional environment, he is defying a toxic image of masculinity.

Photo: Jasper Hill

Jasper Hill dedicated himself to the well-known human rights activist Irmela Mensah-Schramm. For years, she has been removing racist and anti-Semitic hate messages by scraping off stickers or painting over graffiti throughout Germany. “Whether with a broken knee and crutches or an injured arm, she never leaves the house without her camera, paintbrush, solvent and spray can,” writes photographer Jasper Hill about Irmela Mensah Schramm. She receives recognition for this in many places. But not everyone likes what she does: Irmela Mensah-Schramm also receives hate messages, and death threats and is physically attacked herself. Jasper Hill’s story was both nominated for the VGH Prize and published as a cover story in SZ-Magazin.

Photo: Marius Zweifel

Marius Zweifel has chosen a different approach for his story: He shows his protagonists in anonymous portraits. “All people can become heroes,” he writes. This is why his protagonists appear anonymously in his photos. Instead of people, only their silhouettes can be seen. This leaves it up to the viewer to form their own opinion – and to imagine themselves as their own hero.

Photo: Ben Kümmel

Student Ben Kümmel accompanied the soccer club SV Borussia Hannover. “A soccer club does an incredible amount to bring very different people together,” explains Ben Kümmel. For him, the club and its members are heroes because they are on the pitch every weekend, come rain or shine. There, people “shout, cry, hate and love, rejoice and endure in silence, show respect through eye contact or a handshake.”

Collage: Bahriye Tatli

Bahriye Tatli was inspired by her personal interest in fashion. She photographed Berlin designer All Amin, who specializes in upcycling sneakers with her label “Haram Officia”. All Amin is an inspiration, writes Bahriye Tatli. “Photos of people combining their designs with traditional costumes even made me feel proud of my Kurdish identity for the first time.”


Yann Kanngiesser has been fascinated by sailing since he was a child. He has been following the competition for a long time. That’s why he photographed the two athletes lnga-Marie Hofmann and Catherine Bartelheimer. The two would like to represent Germany at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

Basram in his room. Photo: Lucas Tuan-Anh Nguyen

Vienna-born student Lucas Nguyen Tuan-Anh portrayed an Austrian group of children and young people who stood up for the rights of their generation: In February 2023, they filed a lawsuit against the Austrian state. The reason for this was that they felt that children’s rights were not sufficiently taken into account in the current Climate Protection Act. They called for this to be changed. Lucas Nguyen Tuan-Anh describes how these young people have had to face numerous hate comments since then. They would actually be taking on the responsibility of adults to secure their own future.

Photo: Deliah El-Chehade

Deliah El-Chehade portrayed Jana, who has been Marie’s carer since 2019. “The best moments are always when she plays with her tablet and asks us to dance with her,” Jana explained to the photography student. Jana is one of almost 450,000 outpatient caregivers in Germany. At the beginning, ventilating Marie at night was a particular challenge for her. It is particularly important to keep a cool head in emergency situations.


Venue: Lokschuppen Rosenheim
Rathausstr. 24
83022 Rosenheim

Opening hours: 08.03. – 15.12.24
Monday to Friday: 9:00 – 18:00
Saturday|Sunday|Public holiday: 10:00 – 18:00

Exhibiting photographers: Armina Ahmadinia, Sophie Boyer, Tetyana Chernyavska, Noemi Ehrat, Deliah El-Chehade, Henryc Fels, Jasper Hill, Lennart Holste, Yann Kanngiesser, Ben Kümmel, Lucas Nguyen, Bahriye Tatli, Marius Zweifel.

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