Florian Spring, I Am, You Are, We Are Crocodiles

Curator: Łukasz Rusznica


You can be born a boy, but have to become a man. Manhood is not conferred upon everyone with a penis, biology is not enough here; this passage requires the assent of the community and the bloody sacrifice of the individual. It can only be obtained by way of a ritual, spanning entire days, which men use to elevate boys into their ranks. Blood streaks down agonised bodies, their skin repeatedly cut into shapes resembling reptile scales — which will scab over into crocodile scarring. But the ritual is not just about the scars, the stamp marking the passage into manhood — a mark of the covenant between man and tribe, and between tribe and crocodile totem. It is also about purity and ridding oneself of the mother’s blood. Bloodied and hurt, the body is purged of the vestiges of childhood and motherly care — a man is neither a child nor a woman. From that point on, he will be subject to different rules: with anger and respect being the two key masks that will let him perform his manhood in the theatre of everyday life. The combination is a dangerous one, as respect is easily offended, while anger paves the way for violence. The Papuan society is rather violent, particularly toward women. Women and children are not allowed to go behind the enclosure where the transfiguration takes place, where blood flows and scar tissue builds up. It is the realm of men and men alone, as female energy could possibly interfere with the ritual; children, on the other hand, would probably be terrified at the very sight of it.

What about us?

We are bound by taboo, we must close our eyes, cover our lenses, turn away—not everything can be seen, and some things must stay protected. Even if we could see into the heart of the mystery, open our eyes for a hundredth of a second, still we would not see anything, as seeing requires understanding.


Florian Spring (b. 1990 in Bern) completed his apprenticeship as a carpenter in 2011, before spending several years working as a freelance decorator, carpenter, and museum set constructor. From 2011 to 2014 he lived abroad, travelling with his camera, working in exchange for food and accommodation. His travels allowed him to develop strong and intimate relationships with different people and cultures, encouraging him to delve deeper into photography. In 2017 Spring was awarded a Globetrotter World Photo grant in Switzerland. This allowed him to focus on his projects focusing on initiation ceremonies in Papua New Guinea, which he visited three times over two and a half years to finish this project. Since this time, he has been working as an assistant and freelance photographer in Switzerland and abroad.


Tytano, ul. Dolnych Młynów 10


25.05.2019, 8 pm

Exhibition open:

Tuesday–Friday 15.00–19.00
Saturday–Sunday 11.00–19.00


free admission