Mittwoch, 8. September 2010
Cheese Magazine Spread and Interview
1. When did you start making pix of punks and skins (in Berlin)?
I can’t really say. I was taking portraits of my friends and lovers beginning in the early nineties - around 1992. It’s just that we happened to be punks or skins or squatters but we never thought in those categories. I was shooting in black and white and around 1997 I started using colour. The photos in the show are from different times between 1997 and this year.
2. How do you describe your identity as a skin? or punk? or just admirer of them?
This show consists of photos of my friends and lovers so it’s not meant as a social documentary representation of a whole movement. I’m interested in showing the people around me and the situation I’m in. Patti Smith said something like when she wrote a song it showed in what place in her life she was in at that moment. So to me it is like giving out coordinates, something almost geographical. And if showing that intimate situation transcends and it stands for more than just me and it means something to more people all the better but I can’t plan that.
When I thought of what photos to pick for the show, I didn’t want it to be a series of guys wearing Mohawks or having shaved heads, which would have been a too obvious thing to do. I preferred to show friends with a punk/skin/anarchist attitude but then in photography how do you show an attitude?
Punk gives you the opportunity to think and create for yourself, to question authority, to tell assholes to fuck off. All these things were possible before punk and they will be possible after punk has been sold off or has merged with other movements. All in all it’s about talking without fear, thinking, fighting, loving, or whatever, as opposed to being just a consumer.
One thing that always fascinated me about skins is not directly the fighting but the being ready for a fight. All your clothes are aimed at that, they show that you won’t shy away from a fight. And when you’re out with your lover, and someone gives you shit, one day that might happen.
3. How much consists or depends on the skin-punk attitude on fetish, like gear, boots, hair, behaviour, etc?
Fetish is one of those words I can’t relate to, so when we met up and you asked me what fetish I had, I said I didn’t have any, but I was into punks and skins. But I wouldn’t call it a punk and skin fetish, you know? And for me that makes a difference. Fetish for me has this connotation of being separated from the rest of my life, like stuff you wear on the weekend, stuff you can consume, but that doesn’t touch my life. I guess fetish sounds utterly capitalist to me.
Another word I don’t care so much for is portraits. Or dividing photos up in genres. Cause I could never do that. Cause to me they’re all photos and that division seems weird.
4. Is gay skin/punk subculture on a large scale typical only for certain metropolises like Berlin?
It’s hard being an outsider and no one there to share things with you. It’s not good for people to be by themselves all the time or to exist in a hostile environment where they have to wear a mask just to survive on a daily basis. If you read about someone having been an outsider or see it in a film it all seems so cool but when you live through it, it can be the loneliest thing in the world. So when you’re excluded or persecuted, be it because of your race or sexuality or whatever you’re likely to move to a bigger city and there you can find people you share stuff with.
With Berlin, it’s not just a question of the size of the city. There are larger cities that have no alternative movements to speak of. The advantage of Berlin is that it’s poor. If large amounts of money enter the city and people have to work all the time just to get by and shared spaces are being destroyed, then you soon have office buildings instead of a subculture. It’s being tried like in the rest of the world but it’s not quite there yet. So right now things are getting rougher but people still have enough time to put into the culture.
5. Gay skin/punk attitude as horny masculine sexual image - your opinion?
What all the best friends and lovers I hang out with have in common is that they are in touch with what might be considered their female side. And straight guys have that as well as gay guys. In reality of course, so called sides are impossible to tell apart. And why would you? And if somebody wants to be a hundred percent what is considered male in our society it soon gets pretty ridiculous and boring. The guys I am with are confident enough to play around with that and be what is considered feminine at times or what is considered masculine at other times or what fits neither category and that makes them more complete and real to me. Even more masculine, if you want.
Cheese Magazine, 2010. Interview with curator Harry Liivrand, Tallinn Art Hall, originally conducted in 2009, accompanying a spread of the 'Punk.Skin.' images in its current issue.