Freie Wuffel

2022 - ongoing

„Watch yourself Stefan, they‘re sadists,“ my grandma warns me when I show her the first pictures of my photo work about petplay. She had googled petplay the day before and found out that it comes from the BDSM scene.

„It can also be something completely different,“ explains Toffi, a social petplayer and board member of Freie Wuffel e.V. from Hanover. „We just want to get out of the daily grind, switch off, put aside social norms and constraints by slipping into a completely different role. Not necessarily in the role of another human figure, but in the role of an animal that doesn‘t even recognise all the hardships, fears, constraints, norms and rules. I live here according to my personal ideal of being able to be versatile and I think everyone here wants this space where they don‘t have to hide and can live out this side of themselves.“

I met Toffi last year during Christopher Street Day in the underground station at Kröpcke, Hanover. He was standing there with another puppy player in a corner by one of the concrete pillars. Both were wearing their dog masks, the so-called hoods. The other puppy player was on a metal chain and was being led by a young man. I was nervous when I approached them to ask for a photo. However, my nervousness was countered by an open-minded group who immediately invited me to get to know their organisation. I quickly understood the Petplayers motto: get out of the daily life and into the headspace.

Role-playing games are omnipresent in our society. Whether it‘s jousting, medieval markets, cosplay shows or playing on a farm as a child, we‘ve all been confronted with the subject at some point. Petplay comes from the BDSM scene and is often highly sexualised or stigmatised. However, petplay is not always sexual.
The photographic work provides an insight into the playful world of social petplay and is intended to encourage people to reflect on their own opinions on the subject of petplay. The often expected sexual component is not found in the story; instead, the images provide an insight into the everyday life of a group of people who have grown together through their hobby and have created their own space to be free.

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