Cowboys are inextricably linked to the mythical American West that we know from history books, but even more so from the countless movies, television series, (comic) books and commercials full of gunfighters. There ‘the Cowboy’ is the symbol of freedom, courage and masculinity.
European Cowboy by photographer Bjorn Staps, however, shows a close-knit community of young rodeo cowboys in Western Europe. These young men practice the most dangerous part of the classic (American) rodeo: ‘bullriding’. In the summer months, these cowboys travel through Belgium, France and Italy to participate in local rodeos in small villages or on ranches hidden in the countryside. During these competitions, the men risked their lives again and again by trying to stay on a wildly bucking bull for 8 seconds. Each of them with their own dreams and ambitions. Successes are celebrated, but also pain and disappointments are shared together.
Over the past 4 years, Dutch photographer Bjorn Staps has captured the unknown world of European rodeo cowboys. In European Cowboy, Staps combines visual elements of the well-known mythical cowboy with the sometimes harsh reality full of individual dreams, friendship and vulnerabilities of the real cowboys in Europe.