Behind the scenes of care. Patricia Kühfuss documents the shortage of staff at German hospitals.
Text: Finn Winkler Fotos: Patricia Kühfuss
At the beginning of her studies, the photographer lived with several nurses. They inspired the subject of her photo series, which has become more topical than ever due to the Corona pandemic. Patricia Kühfuß shows the everyday professional life of people who care for others at the limits of their resilience.
Nursing is a highly complex profession that requires technical, medical and human expertise. It is difficult to represent this work visually, as care touches on people’s privacy and raises the question of where the boundaries of what can be shown are. Therefore, in the media, the profession is often reduced to the symbolic image of a bed-shifting nurse, and the performance of nursing work remains invisible.
Before Patricia Kühfuss photographed her story, she was warned about the difficulty of accessing care facilities. But she was not dissuaded from her idea:
The nursing shortage also has a sexist layer, Kühfuss said. For patients, help in everyday life is just as important in the end as help in life-threatening moments. “These things are often labelled as ‘care-work’—historically, typically female tasks,” the photographer explains.
Since completing her studies at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Hanover, Patricia Kühfuss has been working as a freelance photographer. At the Lumix Festival 2020, she received the HAZ Audience Award for the work “Nicht müde werden” shown here. Her photographs are published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, GEO, National Geographic and ZEIT Magazine, among others.
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