Be Good is a work about underage married Roma teenagers in Romania, their traditions and rituals of the wedding (night), the importance of virginity and the burden of proof. It shows portraits of married couples with a focus on appearing as individuals and also some teenagers that grew up in this tradition, along with symbolic and metaphoric still lives of flowers and interiors like their marital bedrooms. Their society isn’t used to the idea of individuality in a modern sense, it simply doesn’t exist and so doesn’t the concept of youth: Either you’re a kid or an adult. It’s easy to understand that, when you think about a 12 year old girl getting ready for her wedding and at the same time knowing that her virginity is the holy key to a respected marriage. Shortly after marriage the girls get pregnant and become mothers, boys become fathers. In the end it’s a work about youth, although from our westernized point of view it can be read as a work about the absence of youth, which leaves us with the question about (un-)happiness. Are those teenagers less happy, because they’re “missing out” on something so essential to us?
Maria Sturm was born in Ploiesti, Romania in 1985. After the revolution she left the country with her mom in 1991. She grew up in Augsburg, Germany and studied Photography and Media at the University of Applied Sciences Faculty of Art and Design in Bielefeld since 2006. In 2011 she interned at Milk Studios and Creative Exchange Agency in New York and received her Diploma in the summer of 2012. She graduated with the work “Be Good”. She’s now based in Berlin and Cologne.
Maria was selected for a one-month residency and workshop with Magnum photographer Antoine d’Agata at Atelier de Visu in Marseille 2012 and a finalist for the Stern scholarship “Junge Fotografie” 2013/14.
She was a finalist at the 54th edition of Bourse du Talent 2013 with “Be Good”. She won the New York Photo Awards in the category “Student Photobook ” 2012 and also the 3rd Place at the Erstwerk 2012, a competition of the Institut für Buchgestaltung both as well with “Be Good”.
Maria’s work has been exhibited and published internationally.