Tell us about yourself and your work.
I am a bastard of places and cultures. I grew up in Germany’s South-West where history has put layer upon layer – from celtic ritual places, roman temples, medieval churches and castles, to the bunkers of WW1 and 2. I studied in Cologne and Mainz (Germany), Prague (Czech Republic) and Hyderabad (India), lived in Melbourne (Australia) for eight years and travelled throughout Asia. All this expanded my interest in researching the human condition. In my photographic work I am interested in hijacking places and situations. I transform what is in front of the lens, to show a reality beyond time and space: that of the unconscious.
I call my images POEMS to show that they are not stories, but a creative use of the medium that requires entering the conversation with your own feelings and memories. A poem uses words in creative ways to evoke feelings and memories. It is much more open than a story. You need to finish it with your mind, heart and soul. Much of contemporary photography sticks to the surface or runs around a documentary or rational concept.
The task I have given myself is: Can I create timeless images, that have an impact on an emotional, unconscious level and cannot be translated into words? Can I show an internal psychological structure by using material that is in front of the camera? This is a paradox and the most interesting task I can imagine for a photographer.
Where does the inspiration come from?
Without being aware of it, I always felt myself connected to artistic movements that have dealt with the unconscious: from religious, mystic and magic practice to Romanticism, Symbolism, Surrealism and beyond. I loved the light of Rembrandt, the longing of C.D.Friedrich, the darkness of Böcklin, Klinger, Kubin, the eroticism of Dali, the humour of Ernst, the twisted obsessions of Peter Greenaway and the spiritual weirdness of Alejandro Jodorowsky.
In photography I loved the absurdity of Anna and Bernhard Blume, the poetry of Sudek and the abstraction of Drtikol. Roger Ballen’s work blew me away when I saw it first. Music inspires me, other art forms such as painting, theatre, film. Anything can be a source of inspiration when you know what you are looking for.
What do you need to do your art (technical, but also timing, situations, places…)
I can work wherever I am, I do not need a studio or a special location. I need the night time, my camera, and a laptop. And sometimes an adventurous volunteer model.
I use a 10-year old Nikon Coolpix. The camera is light, not in-your-face and I am so used to working with it that it has become an extension of myself. I build the images on location, in front of the camera. I work mostly alone but always welcome assistants.
What about the good things and the bad things you experienced in the past about exhibitions?
I experienced all possible levels of professionality on the side of festivals and insitutions I have worked with. The problem is that beforehand you can hardly estimate, how chaotic or reliable a partner really is. The only way to avoid bad experiences is to install yourself or have a very detailled description and model of the installation. Pleasant experiences are collaborations in which the curator/institution communciates well, is able to expand your ideas by material and creative support and to widen your reach by professional PR.
What does art mean for you?
The artist’s journey is a journey of consciousness, of going deeper, of becoming aware where your feet are standing on and how they dance with the universe around us. His work should be a tune that will make others dance in the same rhythm.
What do you think about the art system in your country?
If you talk about the art market, the German system is a European system and as such a Western one. Galleries take 50 % share for bringing your work to a collector’s audience and doing the PR. If they do their job well, and take a risk by paying rent and staff as an longterm investment in the artist, it is deserved. But if you talk about public funding, there is not much I can tell you, I finance my work myself.
What is the future of art?
I am not interested in ‘art’ as an abstract term. Therefore I don’t care about the ‘future of art’. Art will always exist. I am interested in how I can go deeper with what I do personally, with how I can expand my skills to create stronger work than beform, to create timeless work that speaks beyond times, cultures and places.