Together (A) Part is a study of the members of the Anabaptist pacifist Christian Bruderhof, their traditions and their calling to live in community in ‘Hoffs’ around the world.
Through portraiture, documentary storytelling and visual metaphors the project examines the liminal space between living TOGETHER as a community, bound to their neighbours by a spiritual commitment to “god and humankind”, and, APART because of their rejection of personal property, technologies, public education and money and commitment to a life of non-violence. Pictures poetically depict the themes of community, equality, labour, faith, childhood, freedom and pacifism and investigate the principles and customs laid out in the ‘Foundations of Our Faith and Calling’, the ‘rule book’ of the Bruderhof.
Together (A) Part is the first time that a storyteller has been granted access to their communities and I have lived and work in Hoffs around the world since August 2018.
The project will be published in two books in 2020, the centenary year of the formation by the German Protestant theologian Eberhard Arnold. Shocked by rising social injustice and the horrors of World War I he and fellow Christians from Berlin moved to the remote mountain village of Sannerz to create a pacifist Anabaptist community, modeled on the early Hutterian Church and first Church of Jerusalem: Money, property and possessions would be shared and service to the wider community enshrined in their way of life.
In the 1930s they were forced to escaped escape Germany because of their rejection of National Socialism and conscientious objection and set up a community in the Cotswolds. But with the outbreak of WWII they again had to flee, this time to Paraguay, or accept internment as foreign nationals.
Today there are Hoffs in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Paraguay, and Australia, with settlements ranging in size from 20 to 350 members.