Sunday, 9 November 2014

Andy Fabrykant


What did you last take a picture of?

The last picture I took was of two workers climbing two huge ladders at the same time. They were repairing some cables that passed through the city of Barcelona. When I wanted to take that picture I was heading to the airport and I had to search my camera, because it was deep inside of my suitcase. This was probably the only moment that I didn't carry my camera around my neck, because that's what I always do when I'm travelling. I was lucky they didn’t notice that I was around, so they kept on doing their work in a natural way.  

What mostly catches your eye?

I think that what catches my eye is when something somehow seems to belong to the background. The relationship between the space and the object is what interests me the most. Like when there is a recognizable contrast, where something or someone doesn’t belong at all, and seems to be out of context.

Very recently, an aspiring photographer told me she regarded choosing to be or being a photographer would be a question of “lifestyle”. What do you think about this?

I completely agree with her point of view. I think some people are viewers in this world, just like musicians are listeners. The moment we feel the need to capture those moments in life is when we become photographers.

What has art to do with talent?

I think we can develop our talent. But as I said before, if there is no need to make art and if it isn't in your guts, it will be really hard to be 'talented'.

What has helped you most in getting attention for your work?

What helped me the most was making exhibitions and people like you helping me to show my work.

You also make films. What are you working on right now?

One year ago I started a production company here in France called ILKINO. We have been doing some ads, music video clips and films for companies. Still, I am writing two feature films and hope to shoot a short film in a few months.

What is ‘Fanzine’ about?

Fanzine is about showing my work in a different way. I have all these framed negatives and copies that I have to take care of. I was looking for a way to destroy this idea of untouchable objects so I decided to make cheap prints to give away every time I make an exhibition.

Which magazines - art related or otherwise - do you frequently read?

Normally I see many things on the Internet and on Facebook. I just bought “The American Cinematographer”. But rather I try to see as many exhibitions as I can.

Where do you go to unwind?

The beach is a place where I can really relax, and if not the beach, then my garden. 

When looking through your work, I got the feeling that you often seek to portray persons ‘embedded’ in their surroundings, or point towards their traces. Is this something that interests you?

In the beginning, I tried to go to different places every day. It became an automatism, and the only goal was to cover the largest portion of an area so I could go to the next one the following day. At the same time my pictures where 'methodical'. I was looking for elements that could be found repeatedly in different areas or even cities. You could say that I even became an image collector. And just like any other collector of any object, pictures gain value when we have a large quantity and we can categorize them.
After working in this manner for some time, I realized that I had spent a lot of time looking for repetitions and that inevitably, my method had reached its limits considering there wasn't any human activity involved.  My pictures became cold and predictable. I wasn’t really feeling the places anymore and couldn't relate to the cities any longer either. But that exactly had always been my starting point.
Even if it took me some time to realize, the obvious next step for me was to get lost. Instead of continuing to follow my previous system, I simply started to do the complete opposite thing, which felt like a situationalist game. I started to wander around without destination, as a 'flâneur', so to speak.
Once I did that, I unconsciously started to realize that somehow my pictures began to have a new feeling to them, on a completely new level. Instead of being an automatism fulfilled of repeated objects they became more lively and full of what I like to call “unexpected finds”.
What I am doing mostly now is following someone on the street. I don’t take pictures of him or her. I just use her or him as an excuse to get lost without being me, and without deciding where to go. 

Monday, 3 November 2014

Markus Lehr

Berlin, Germany

What do you find most fascinating about industrial structures and installations?

Their character(s) spark my imagination. Every corner and perspective challenges me to go further and dig a little deeper. There is so much history and human ingenuity condensed in a relatively small place.

Especially when looking through ‘Modern Ruins’, I was under the impression that you are interested in capturing different ‘textures’ of (built) materials and monuments. Would you agree?

Definitely. Textures and surfaces are also what I am working on most in post-processing. It feels be a bit like looking at human skin. Delicate and desirable.

What do you find most challenging about shooting under difficult lighting conditions?

There are two things I am often struggling with: Flares and ghosts. If you are out at night there are sometimes only one or two sources of light and the contrast is very high, too. This often results in some colourful reflections inside your glass. Sometimes I like that, but more often I find it distractive and rather try avoiding it. You need a good lens and some techniques to help you with that.

You write that you strive to portray humanity without actually showing humans. What would including persons in your pictures change about them?

Everything! I think humans would distract immensely from the main content I want to show. Usually we look at humans first and often we relate everything to them. Even if they are completely out of focus or hidden in an image, we always spot them and focus our attention on them. I prefer to show the effect of humans on a given space. I prefer to let our traces speak about us.

You live and work in Berlin. Do you have a favourite neighbourhood/quarter/spot in the city to spend your leisure time in?

I especially like Schöneberg because of the mix of cultural influences there. This quarter is not as 'hip' as Kreuzberg or Friedrichshain, but a bit more relaxed and easy going. I like that.

Since starting to engage in photography, did you find that your everyday view on your surroundings had changed? If yes, how so?

Well, I concentrated very much on the night in the first year of shooting. That had quite an impact on my way of seeing things: For the first time I noticed the difference that light can make. I started to see interesting places and corners in areas I usually simply passed by. It is fascinating to enter the backyard of a house in the neighbourhood and discover a whole new little world there.

Which artists' works are you watching closely?

Maybe Edward Burtynsky and Gregory Crewdson, but there are many not so well known contemporary artists, who have inspired me more. It is the little things they see, a slightly different focus or a very dedicated appreciation of where you are coming from, but mostly it's something I cannot put into words.

When you feel that you are absentminded, what helps you focus again?

I try to stay away from any kind of photographic things for a little while. I do something else like reading or listening to music for a few days. And then after a while I automatically get that urge to get out and being outside again - it always works. One other thing I regularly practise is to challenge myself with a complete new and different task: For example, after I had been busy with industrial and urban scenery for months, one weekend I went out into the forest and tried to capture only the trees for a couple of days. My perspective on urban spaces shifted after that.

Do you buy magazines or rather read them online?

I think I stopped buying magazines four or five years ago. I only buy books.

All is fair in ...

... the night.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Louis De Belle


How did you come across the ‘Wunderkammer’ in Milan, where your series ‘Failed Dioramas’ was shot?

I had known the owner for some years, but he had always kept his collection a secret. When I started working on a series about the notion of failure, I would chat with him during the working process. It was then that I found out he had collected a vast amount of animal rarities: he owned a proper cabinet of curiosities. All those items, however, represented a problem for him since he didn't know where to put or how to exhibit them. It was a perfect scenario for me. This is also why the series is entitled 'Failed Dioramas': it's a collection of rarities, the display of which, however, has not been prepared yet.

What did you find most inspiring about that location and the objects that you found there?

Well, that place is a mess. There was a lot of dust and I had to move things around to get a good angle for the shooting - which was hard for the huge amount of stuffed animals and cardboard boxes piled up. Still, the absurdity of the items that were totally out-of-context was something that really caught my eye. It also felt weird arriving at the place itself, as it's in the centre of Milan, in an average bourgeois apartment. I liked the fact that nobody would imagine what actually is behind that door.

How does this series fit in with the rest of your work? What is similar or different?

The series doesn't resemble the rest of my work. Or, at least, this was what I thought in the beginning, as I found this topic to be pretty unique. Yet I received interesting feedback for the project: everyone was able to see the straight framing, the frontal view and the clarity that I always strive to achieve in all my photographic work. So in that sense I guess the series could fit within the range of my other works in terms of formal aesthetics.

It’s curious to look at your series ‘Office Hours’ and the offices belonging to persons with different professions. Do you think that the space we occupy says more about ourselves than we actually are aware of in everyday life?

Indeed. I'm pretty much into interior photography; and that word - interior - surely has a double meaning: the representation of the inner part(s) of both space and person. That's why I decided to portray the offices without their owners. The space was speaking clearly enough for itself.

You finished your MA at Bauhaus University in Weimar this year, congrats! When looking back at your studies, what has shaped your ‘development’ as a photographer the most?

Honestly, I'm not quite done yet! I'm currently working on my MA thesis, which deals with the notion of paradox - something I've always been drawn to. But I already can look back at these last two years of my studies: I've been constantly taking photography classes with a teacher I would have never expected at the Bauhaus University. I had been ready to follow an old, strict German photographer (Düsseldorf style), but instead I found a young German lady, Nina Röder (, who is into staged photography and performing art. This contrast made me question my work and the reasons behind it more: I had to defend my photographic work. This in the end turned out to be a great practice.

What are you currently working on or planning to do in the near future?

Currently I'm developing my MA thesis. And I'm pretty interested in artist residencies, as they give you a chance to develop your own projects. For the next months I have a pretty tight schedule with exhibitions of recent works. Meanwhile, I'm also thinking of gathering a few fellow photographers to shape a stronger movement concerning formalism.

How important is it to you to discuss your work or talk about art works as such?

Critique is the most important thing to me. You get to know different points of view and you seriously question what you're doing. This eventually leads to a good level of consciousness. When it comes to the notion of 'art' it's very easy to get lost. Being able to stay focused is hard, yet fundamental.

Is there an art community, a person, book, movie… - you name it - that has shaped your perception of photography in a distinctive way?

The Düsseldorf School of Photography was very inspiring to me. Boring, but inspiring. So was the New Topographic Movement. Further, seeing works from artists such as Ed Ruscha, which aim toward a very graphic aspect of photography, deeply shaped my perception of photography. I'm pretty much into a certain type of 'severity', if you will.

What is the best life advice you have ever been given?

I didn't get one yet. But I'm pretty sure that doing as much as possible and doing it as good as possible is not such a bad habit.

What do you prefer: Novels or short stories?

Short real stories.

The selection of pictures shown here are taken from the three series 'Failed Dioramas', 'Swims' and 'Office Hours'. You can find information about the office holders on series' page.