Matjaz Krivic


As far as new age social utopias go, it’s doesn’t get any more spectacular than the Rainbow Gathering. With members in the tens of thousands and a long spanning tradition in every imaginable alternative lifestyle, the Rainbow tribe certainly knows how to put together a happening. It began with the counter-culture “dropout” movement in the USA and a disappointed generation searching to start society from scratch by moving to remote rural areas, far from the reach of their corrupt industrial civilization (or Babylon as the Rastafarian fraction likes to refer to it). Temporary hippy villages started popping up all over the globe to accommodate the ever growing new age nomadic community, all the while maintaining an air of secrecy and mystique – locations and dates typically spread through word of mouth and are communicated in a romanticized tribal language of full moons, rivers and mountains.



Rainbow gatherings soon developed their own ethos, rituals and fashion – the “Sioux chief meets Himalayan sadhu” image being the most popular. Although outside observers tend to dismiss the attempted split from mainstream society as nothing more than a holiday camping trip for hippies, there certainly are lessons to be learned from the Rainbow warriors. For starters, it is admirable how thousands of people manage to cohabit together peacefully for extended periods of time in extremely difficult circumstances (no electricity, no running water, no shops) without leaders, policemen or even organizers. There is no hierarchic structure, food is commonly distributed and every group action is decided upon through a process of consensus making called a “talking circle”. Not bad for a bunch of freaks. Despite these achievements in radical democracy, social relationships tend to replicate those back in Babylon, the predominantly white middle class community maintaining a conservative view on gender roles and even bursting into proud nationalist mode every now and then. Threading through the Rainbow family’s confusing culture codes can prove even more difficult a task than overcoming the rocky pathways to their remote camping grounds, but those willing to make the effort can be sure to find one of the most picturesque and surreal human settlements on the face of the planet.




Matjaz Krivic is a Slovenian globe-trotting photographer specialising in capturing the personality and grandeur of indigeneous people and places. For 22 years he has covered the face of the earth in his intense, personal and aesthetically moving style that has won him several prestigious awards.
 He has made the road his home, and most of the time you can find him traveling with his camera somewhere between Sahara and Himalaya.

He has portrayed poor parts of the world characterised by traditions, social unrest and religious devotion. His photographs sensitively reflect the images of the marginal word – the voices of the neglected. Because of the artist’s directness and respect for individuals,
the people photographed are spontaneous, natural and open.

Their «soul» is captured and the viewer is encouraged to observe and think.

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Matjaz Krivic


30 thoughts on “Matjaz Krivic – Tribe”

  1. As photography, it’s very nice, I think. As ideology, well, nature is one of those phenomena that looks better on television than it does in real life, and Rousseau’s noble savage was never anything but a pipe dream, but if it gives people something to do on their vacations and makes them feel happy with themselves then I guess it’s all right.

  2. AKAKY,

    I love you, man, but sometimes your grey, bitter, mousey, and depressing world of self-imposed limitations and disappointments is just too sad to contemplate or accept, even disguised as humor. Let me tell you, it’s better, much better, than you can even imagine from television or even these excellent straight documentary photos. If you haven’t lived this way, you’ll never know what you missed.

    Just what were you doing in your 20s?

    I lived this way off and on for much of my 20s and it was as much fun as it looks or more. It was also a real adventure. I’m now approaching 70 and I’ve had several very different lives in between, but no regrets whatsoever about my years as a wild hippy in the mountains of the West. And I have naught but pity for anyone who couldn’t experience that.

    While the Rainbow Gatherings are always spectacular and photogenic (although personally I never had a camera in those days, and would not have been able to afford color slide film even if I had… the tools I carried then were a banjo, guitar, harmonicas, an axe, a skinning knife, and a leather sewing kit), it would be very interesting to follow a few of these families through the rest of the year and document them, showing how they live in often uneasy and tenuous relationship to that world of cities, money, and documents that to you probably means ‘reality.’

    Matjaz has done a good job showing the spirit of the Gathering itself… I would love to see him pursue the lifestyles behind it in greater detail in ways that reveal that relationship.

  3. “Their «soul» is captured…”

    Ha, so it’s true. And so-called civilized folk always just snickered when less technological peoples voiced that fear.

    That aside, and unfortunately, for me this group of photos comes off more as a sales brochure than as any kind of documentary essay or journalism. They are very pretty, but you know it’s just too good to be true.

    For example, although the statement suggests that there are difficulties for a large group of people living in a place with no water or electricity, the photos seem to suggest that the Rainbow community is made up of people who never have to take a shit. The text also suggests that there is a rigid conservative social hierarchy in which dissenting views are not tolerated, or that one at least needs to know some kind of secret handshake; but all we see are people who appear to be in a constant state of communal ecstasy.

    On a personal level (I’m looking at you, Sydney), I get the good parts. I lived out west for much of my adult life and have had a lot of positive experiences at neo hippy gatherings, and with that kind of lifestyle in general. There is an incredible amount of beauty and good feeling. I think what they (we) do is great.

    But I also know there’s a lot of discomfort and hassle and social crap and other consequences as well. As a documentary photographer, I’d like to see more aspects of the story than what one would show on a promotional website. I think with stories like this, it’s better for the photographer to serve as a witness than as an advocate… or critic.

    Being also familiar with the grey, bitter, depressing world of self-imposed limitations and disappointments (I’ve driven through New Jersey, many times), I’m sickly tempted to direct more snark towards the artist’s statement (What is a “moving aesthetic?” Does it travel from place to place or does it concern the style in which the aesthetic moves, like a fashion model on the runway? How can anything “sensitively reflect?” A reflection is a visual element. It concerns the sense of sight, not touch), but had better just leave this with a humble suggestion that the photographer find someone who has a less pretentious writing style to do the statement. It gets in the way of the photos, imo.

  4. These are beautiful photographs, very much in the classical Nat Geo strain. But I too long for more depth to the story (and perhaps one or two less teepees at dusk). Maybe even having just followed one couple or family to give some sort of narrative. I would also be curious about access, as I believe the Rainbow people may not be too keen on letting a photographer document their problems, as they mistrust the media portrayal of them as it is. Also, no idea just how many gatherings these photos are from.

    But then again, perhaps sometimes its enough to just celebrate life as one finds it, and leave the drama back in Babylon. :)

  5. Yea we went to stuff like this when I was in art school, made sure the sin bin (panel van) was well stocked with booze and weed. We really just went for the slap and tickle, the mobs had to many rules for free spirits

  6. The images are definitely fun, taken, edited and presented to present Utopia, but I cannot help but wonder… as a photographer who specializes “in capturing the personality and grandeur of indigeneous people and places,” does Matjaz Krivic present this statement as serious or satire: “…”the ‘Sioux chief meets Himalayan sadhu’ image being the most popular.” If this is satire, I can accept it. It’s just not clear to me that it is.

    I wrote a bunch more, but decided against it and deleted it.

    Good pictures of young people having fun pretending to live in a different world than they actually do.

  7. White priveliged dreadlock fantasy
    stolen eden lifestyle magpie narcisism
    yoga poi painted cat whisker rainbow love teepee thieves.
    Fake shamanic Spirit vampires.

    New age fantasy re-creation of a world who’s original inhabitants live forgotten lives in a desert of despair and cheap whiskey a hundred miles down the highway. pretty pictures though.

    I do like the NG’esque visual style and cultural anthropology angle to the layout and words though. Will make even more people in dentists waiting rooms believe that an earthbound spiritual eden is possible for even them.

  8. total white priviledge……agree w/everything (about the group) John G has written…

    and frankly, this is really obnoxious: “Sioux chief meets Himalayan sadhu’ image being the most popular.”…..i’d suggest they read Coates’ ‘between the world and me’ and ‘i burried my heart at wounded knee’…..

    i rarely write negatively but this kind of pseudo-shamanic ‘in touch w/self and world’ is both fundamentally flawed and horrific…not that having good times is a problem ;), but the pretentiousness with which it is written about and shot is disturbing, frankly…..and their connection with the indigenous population who mostly live in squalor and poverty and humiliation and struggle….

    i forgive the artist statement, surely this is about language translation….

    “Their «soul» is captured and the viewer is encouraged to observe and think.”

    i’d direct viewers (and this photographer) to investigate the crew at Boreal and see the work and book they’ve done on Canadian indigenous population vis-a-vis the TarSands….



    i agree with both of you ….does look like an ad shoot or whatever…fake hippies fake alignment with indigenous….yet i don’t think this photographer was exactly selling the Rainbow gathering given his background..he just went, he just took pictures…probably impossible to show this any other way…the set up is theirs…like a movie set or whatever….judgements of value etc are in fact, as usual, coming from those of us who view….

    work presented on Burn in general is done to show you what photographers around the globe are doing…we try to show the best we can find in any genre, but we are not suggesting ever that we subscribe to a point of view about the subject…in other words we are not selling Rainbow…we are just publishing pictures of a photographer who went and shot…and did a nice job of covering the event..not much more complicated than that….

    cheers, david

  10. I think despite some of our personal ire at aspects of this lifestyle we should remember that its a photo essay attempting to document a cultural phenomenon and try to critique it as such. photography being a broad church and all that.

    IMants. Indeed.

    TYPO ALERT what exactly is a ‘Rastafarian fraction’? Answers on a postcard to the usual address.

  11. Yea, I’m a bit put off by the anger and negativity about the lifestyle of those depicted in this essay. All my experience tells me they are, for the most part, good people trying to do good in the world. And unlike many other religious or quasi-religious sects, they don’t seem to be doing any harm, which is an integral part of their general ethic. The fact that they are trying to build a new culture based on myths and legends rather than historical, much less current, reality is normal as these things go. Most people need to believe that utopia is a real possibility.

    Documentary photographers and journalists are, perhaps, members of another sect that generally believes that this world can be a utopia, certainly that humanity can move it in that direction. One of the things that differentiates us from the more typical utopian sects is our belief that only truth (which, of course, can be disguised as art) is the best method achieving it.

    That’s my problem with this work and some of the comments. It’s presented, and defended, as if the photographer made a trip to North Korea and was only allowed to snap elaborately prepared propaganda events. Maybe there’s some truth to that simile? Even so, the photographers who have gone to North Korea struggled to get at what truth they could behind the staging and some have produced genuinely illuminating work. And although I am willing to grant the possibility that the rainbow people have some similarity with the political system in North Korea, I am pretty sure their secret police are not quite as effective or that the consequences of photographing deeper realities anywhere near as dire.

    I don’t have any problem with the photographer doing it, or burn publishing it; just giving my thoughts on where it’s flawed and how it could be better. Constructive criticism, one hopes.

  12. i’m NOT angry at all :)….i’m a) disappointed by the work/photographer’s statement and what it attempts…and b) the lack of awareness….in times such as ours MW, it IS CRITICAL that folk understand….read Coates, you’d see what’ im suggesting…and totally NOT angry at those people…just find that unaware what their mimicry means/has meant….and the artist statement of both the work (since when did photography capture someone’s soul?) and the ideas of marrying sioux chiefs (and why sioux, not niagra or navajoe or algonquin etc) with well, u get my point…..again, NOT angry at all :) ….but in times like this one HAS a responsibility to recognize or not…that’s all i am saying….

    white priviledge part of the ‘dream’…..we live in an age and time where one’s mimicry of culture and peoples of which most know little should be pointed out….

    and i’m not criticizing BURN or EPF judges (though, well maybe i am criticizing the judges because the work is really not that strong, but ok, fine…..)…



  13. First, let me say that I am NOT angry! Just disappointed…

    I think that some commenters are conflating the ‘Artist’s Statement’ with the photographer’s ‘Bio.’ I would agree that the Bio is a bit of a pretentious disaster, but wonder if Matjaz wrote it himself, or got it from someone else? I don’t know. I suggest he ditch it and just stick with the facts (What really sticks in my craw is the word ‘globetrotting’ which immediately says to me: superficial, unreflective, blindly ambitious, careless, and high-carbon-footprint). The actual ‘Artist’s Statement’ I think, upon several re-readings, actually tries to strike a bit of a balance, though yes it is generally favorable, not very critical, and reminds me of the tone that used to go along with what were once called ‘human interest’ stories. Does that mean the photographer is ‘selling’ the Rainbow Gathering as in a tourist brochure? Maybe, but then the same would be true of almost every story carried by NatGeo from their early years up till the ascendancy of Bill Garrett as editor.

    I also have to wonder why showing people having a pretty good time is ‘selling a lifestyle’ and photo essays showing people victimized or in misery aren’t ‘selling’ particular ideas or political and social messages. But I now have been given a good guideline for judging documentaries… anything that doesn’t show people defecating isn’t a real documentary.

    I was surprised that DAH wrote ‘Fake hippies.’ That is, for him, unusually judgmental. I’m not sure what a ‘fake hippy’ is, but assuming some hippies could be or are fake, how would you know from these photos that this group of hippies are fake?

    I thought it was pretty much established by now that most ‘Artist’s Statements’ that appear on BURN are awful and have little to do with the visual content of the essays they accompany. This statement actually is a pretty good intro to the subject, compared to most, IMHO.

    Again, there may be some confusion between what the photographer has written and what the people photographed might actually say about who they are and what they are doing… so the “marriage of Sioux chief and Himalayan sadhu” may just be the photographer’s rather offhand attempt to describe a tonsorial style he observed… admittedly one among many other styles. I really don’t know, but that’s what I suspect.. Likewise, the use of the word ‘utopia.’ Was that their word or the photographer’s?

    Like MW, I am somewhat bemused by the rather vitriolic negativity expressed towards the photographer and/or the subjects of his essay. But let me be clear– I am definitely NOT angry!

    My experience with what I believe was a similar lifestyle and milieu in a similar environment comes from the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, so I could be very wrong, since times change, but I’m willing to bet if you interviewed a random sample of Rainbow Gathering participants, yes, you’d probably find a fair number who are only indulging in a temporary youthful fling before law school or a career with the Post Office, some whose belief systems wouldn’t stand up to the scrutiny of elementary logic and consistency, not to mention critical interrogation by anthropologically-sensitive East Coast intellectual guardians of PC, and some with little self-knowledge, and maybe even some with criminal tendencies… but you’d also find some quite articulate, quite self-reflective and knowledgeable, and above all many who are extremely skilled and resourceful at surviving halfway between the wilderness and the organized society of the towns and cities on very little money.

    Which is why I wish Matjaz would follow some of the families and show what comes before one of these gatherings and what comes after. What the life is all about, and not just the party. Stylistically I can see how the photos here might come off as a bit of a staged PR job, but if you’ve lived in a tepee in a meadow in the Rocky Mountains in mid summer with homemade music in the air, meadowlarks singing, and lots of friendly half-naked hippy women walking around, maybe you’d be more forgiving.

  14. Matjaz first published essay here on burn was much better received…..

    He is obviously talented…and it shows in this fine essay as well.

    What is confusing to me is why people keep hammering the same lines over and over…
    Why not show this and why not show that…. well….this is the way he is choosing to tell this story.
    If ten different photographers were dropped off in that gathering…guess what?….there will be ten different essays.

    One will show them shitting and the other will follow a couple after the party is over and people will still find something to complain about….

  15. When one is of that age group to most the historical context doesn’t seem to matter eventually they figure out holding hands around a tepee doesn’t cut it anymore let alone pay for the smartphone bills.

    We have a Rainbow Region here in oz stared out as the Aquarius Festival eventually it became the weed smoking capital of Australia. Now it depends on tourism (spot the hippe freak) most who live there work hard to eek out a living just as people do in the suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne but I guess they have less traffic though the social domestic problems are ever present as in all social groups.
    Some rainbow power company offers off the grid electricity but that costs a lot of money and one would find it impossible to pay for from social security payments let alone pay for school fees.

  16. I do agree with Bob and the the lack of awareness because unfortunately it really doesn’t end up enriching lives to t ant great level.

  17. Love the pictures. Of all things that people should get pissed off about it’s interesting that hippies have hit a nerve for some.

  18. “I also have to wonder why showing people having a pretty good time is ‘selling a lifestyle’ and photo essays showing people victimized or in misery aren’t ‘selling’ particular ideas or political and social messages.”

    Depends on the particular essay, of course, but in the misery essays I often comment that the people depicted must experience something besides misery and that photographing it would make for a better, even more powerful, essay.

    I’ve been trying to think of a situation in which the description of something as “one dimensional” is a good thing. There must be instances, but I can’t come up with any.

  19. I’m not going to comment on the sociological elements of the group. Others have spoken quite eloquently about the topic above, or at least better than I could.

    As for the images, these are beautiful. I don’t care if it’s a little one-dimensional or that there’s too many tee-pees sat dusk. I don’t give a damn. Beautiful.

  20. hharry …… There are no hippes there hippies are either pushing up dasies or CEOs in multinational companies.They were young in the late 60’s

    The people depicted here have their own identity, type casting them into a social group that prevailed over half a century ago shows a lack of historical knowledge

  21. SIDNEY

    ok “fake hippie” has no meaning i agree…yet this group seems a little bit too too too….i’m sure no harm done and everyone is “in touch” with themselves and nature etc etc…but one does get the feeling after this is all over they get in their BMW 4wd SUVs and head home…anytime something gets super organised then i lose the feeling of authenticity…..i could be very very wrong…i have not been to a Rainbow gathering….

    i did feel this essay gave us a “breather” and it is what it is…..again, no harm and maybe some good…

    cheers, david

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