Jens Schwarz, born in Berlin, has studied art history in Paris and photography in Munich. He works in the field of portraiture and documentary on international assignments and personal projects. In his work he focuses on sociopolitical issues that often deal with questions of both individual and collective identity. His projects have received several grants in the course of his career and his work has been nominated e.g. for the German Henri-Nannen-Prize and presented at Les Rencontres de la Photographie in Arles, France. Two Schwartz monographs have been published: “Beirut Eight Thirteen” (2014), a long-term photographic examination of social identity and political instability in Beirut, and “Displaced” (2016), documenting the so-called refugee crisis in Germany. Currently he is working on a book on youth in Northern Ireland.
"Themmuns" is a photo project about young people in Northern Ireland. The title refers to a slang expression "them ones", meaning the opposing side in Northern Ireland’s debates among Catholic Irish Republicans and Protestant Loyalists.
In consequence of United Kingdom's 2016 Brexit referendum Nothern Ireland will have to leave the European Union. Local Protestant Loyalists mostly supported Brexit, mainly Catholic Irish Republican citizens voted to remain in the EU. One of the fundamentals of the peace process declared in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement is an open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, the same border that will, in the post-Brexit scenario, become an external border with the EU. There is serious concern that the peace process in Northern Ireland could be jeopardized. The prospects of the young generation in particular could dim if old confessional and ethnopolitical fault lines opened up again.
I was interested in documenting daily life situations of young people from both sides and wanted to find out more about their concerns, environment and way of life. These observations often may have revealed more similarities than differences in a world of sectarian strife and political conflict maintained chiefly by the older generation, but which recently blazed up again thanks to Brexit.