and the private collector
cross Badenerstrasse towards Üetliberg into Fritschistrasse and take your first left into Zentralstrasse.
Humanitas Forum Riehen, Riehen Spring 2002
After presentation of the model book at last year's Frankfurt book fair we enter the final stage of going into production with the first monograph about the core of my work. More to follow in this column in due course of progress.
Professor Peter Weiermair, curator at the Salzburg Rupertinum Moderne Galerie in Salzburg and the Museo delle Arte Moderne in Bologna, formarly in charge of the Frankfurt Kunstverein, is writing the editorial for "A Passion for Man".
Mel Clark (click "rendez-vous / coop") and I focused the first version of some 150 images down to a comfortable 33 X 22 cms coffee table volume. A comprehensive collection of some 75 photographs, lead by Peter Weiermair's editorial, followed by a conversation about the work with Anna (formar auctioneer at Christie's, London) and Max Wilson. You find an excerpt of this below.
Get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org.
for your Eyes, your Ears, your Tastes
from St. Peter's steeple with Mr Max Flückiger
our hostess is Ursi Stucki
from the conversation for A Passion for Man":
I am working with people off the street. Some are friends. Some of them become friends. Some of them I never see again. Sitting on the tube for example I see a face or a body that I would like to photograph. In the right mood, I approach the person. Otherwise I might have the chance that he is sitting there with his backpack on his lap, showing his address, and later on I write to him. Other encounters just go by. - I do not have a definite idea of what is coming out of a collaboration. The process of making the picture is the actual fascination about making work. I am not interested in taking pictures of beautiful bodies or stunning faces. Starting a collaboration with a model is like opening a valve and seeing a possibility of getting ideas in my head into a form that will end up somewhere in the public space. I cannot explain what actually sets my off wanting to take a picture of somebody. I trust it has to do with a longing for something within myself. I think my first ambition, not consciously realising what I was doing, was to take parts or the whole of people to collect them and have them with me. Having that as a substitute for the person that I was taking a photograph of. It is the feeling of intimacy which makes me focus on a potential collaborator. I can only take pictures with someone I feel completely at ease with. There must be immediacy, intimacy: it is a dialogue, not just somebody having her or his picture taken, a gut feeling. It is "to know" without proof. - Somehow it will always be the one vis-à-vis myself, a mutual projection. But I want to grasp and hold the essential of who is sitting, lying, standing in front of me.
My work depicts an encounter in time. The person and I are talking, there might be a bit of music playing and I am walking around him deciding what I want to take giving him a description of what I see. I virtually crawl around the person. I just look, suddenly seeing. Like the cover page "Reflexions in a golden eye": I just happened to see it. If the eyes are "the windows of the soul" this may be the reason why their confrontation, the contact is so strong. Neither of us seems to be able to hide. It is that direct confrontation, the direct eye contact which is hard to bare at times. Once you made eye contact, you render yourself vulnerable; that is you open yourself up. Eye contact, in conversation too, used to be very difficult for me. It has to do with uncertainty about myself, being seen and being seen in the full. I had things that I wanted to keep secret about myself. Neither did I like to be photographed. I am at the bases insecure and do not wish this to be seen freezed on a picture. Unless someone just turns around and takes the picture at the spur of the moment. Or someone close with whom I feel at ease and have no fear of exposure. I might come across as stable and knowing what I do or want. But I do not know. I get to know.
To me the skin, the body is just as revealing as the eyes, the face, just as much "a mirror of the soul". The skin shows the slightest tension, the slightest anxiety, the greatest excitement and is the most wonderful reflector of someone's charisma when fully at ease. The fragmented bodies are a picture of somebody's body as much as a fragment of the world. The body yet being something beyond that at the same time keeping this absolute individuality defining the person as: Yves, Ruben, Pascal, impossible to be anything but them! It is grasping the essential about them through the skin.
From the straight forward portrait over the strongly contrasted ones where you almost loose the figure to virtually minimising the person to a fragment, it is a constant effort to visualise what I feel the person is all about. What goes to and fro between the two of us, the essential vibrations between two bodies alive: looking so carefully, so unashamedly with all senses alert. - Martha once summed it up beautifully: Approaching, you think: I want to actually touch this body. But close up you realise that it is untouchable.
I do not think children are difficult models. The reality I am looking for is possibly even more present with them, since it has not been diluted by education and "experience" in the way it might have been with an adult. I feel emotionally on equal grounds with the people I have taken photographs of. I very much like to portray children and old people and also photograph them in the nude. Only so far I have not dared to do so.
"Think" is an early picture representative for what I want to get hold of. To me it is revealing that I have taken a picture and left the person completely to be himself, spotlit in a time of his own. A young man contemplating over himself, not really consciously having his picture taken and therefor remaining somehow inaccessible. It is me taking it, people looking at it, the actual physical stage of things with him actually being there and then something going on in his head which is different again. The person as he is without any implication from outside. He is so far somewhere else just being himself.
The novelty about the "Paso Dobles" is that I have no idea about the eventual look of the end product being double exposed on the same negative. Control over it is reduced to a bare minimum. I look through the camera and I see the whole body. Shadows going over it will blacken some of it out. He is breathing, maybe talking or dozing off. So the less in control we are it seems to me, the better the chance to visualise something which happens underneath this pulsing, bodily surface. This is what fascinates me about Francis Bacon's paintings too: he seemingly manages to look through the surface. I was already scratching on the surface with the fragmented bodies. With Francis you seem to be looking through the skin from all different angles. I create exactly this dimension with the possibilities of the double exposure. And I love Linda Clark's wording, so beautifully to the point: for her the "Paso Dobles" are "a moment between two silences".