For twenty years now Lois Hechenblaikner has been photographing the fans at Austrian folk music festivals. On his travels he has visited more than a hundred festivals, open-air concerts and fan gatherings. Hechenblaikner’s particular passion is the people who undertake long journeys barring no expense, just to get that little bit closer to their idols. It’s a phenomenon which sociologist Gerhard Schulze describes as Harmoniemilieu, where the desire for a perfect world becomes one’s sole and strongest driving force—one longs for a feeling of security and above all the chance, be it only for a few hours, to leave all the problems of the world behind.
Hechenblaikner sees August Sander as an important role model for his work: both follow the motto “see, observe, think.” In Volksmusik Hechenblaikner employs this approach as well as the possibilities of large-format photography to create a typology of the public at folk music festivals. With careful precision he documents the facial expressions, gestures and clothing of his various protagonists, revealing their mentalities and life stories.