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Steffi Drerup (Germany)

A photograph saved a man’s life.
True? Or mere fantasy?

Can you dream in black and white?
‚ichfolgedessen‘ – is this even a word?
What does it mean?

The quest for identity implies looking at the present and the past. Fragmentation and piecing together a puzzle reveal a part of German history while the photograph remains missing.

This body of work is about a man’s life that had been saved by a photograph.

It’s a love story, a piece of German history, a mystery that needed to be solved.

Friedrich and Anna were in love, wanting to get married, but when they applied for a marriage license in the 1930s it was refused. Repeatedly. A Half-Jew simply could not marry an Aryan woman. In September 1944 Friedrich was summoned to the Gestapo headquarter and asked whether he had broken off his engagement with Anna, fully aware he would be sent to a concentration camp if he gave the wrong answer. 
As proof he took a small photograph from his wallet, showing a young dark-haired woman gazing into the distance.

His cousin had written on the back of her portrait ‚To Friedel. With love, Irene.‘ ‘See?’ he said, ‘this is my new love.’

They let him go. He spent the remainder of the war on the run. Dreaming in black and white, never in color.


Steffi Drerup is a Reykjavik-based photographer and visual artist who spent parts of her childhood in Essex, UK and in several German cities. She received her BA from London Guildhall University and, more recently, completed a Masters at Ostkreuz School for Photography Berlin.

Her work explores the concept of identity with her images often inspired by themes related to womanhood and belonging; it has been exhibited around the world including Photo2022, PhotoLux 2022, Kommunale Galerie Berlin, CPF21 and BPF21.

Steffi Drerup has recently been shortlisted for the Kassel Dummy Award and the Photoboox Award, and has been named as one of GUP’s New Talents 2021. She has been featured and published in several publications such as Sueddeutsche Zeitung and Der Standard.

IG: @steffidrerup