Berlin presented itself to the world in black-and-white on several occasions. Let us recall the film «Wings of Desire» with silent angels walking the streets, climbing up spikes of gothic churches, getting into public libraries... And here our interview’s hero carries on this tradition, except for gloomy faces of German guys and brutal women, casting their eyes from his photos.
The incorruptible Cerberus of Bergheim cult club and his permanent gateman, Sven Marquardt visited Baku with his "Altar” audio visual installation in March this year. Sven Marquardt is a thunderbolt for all techno music fans. Charismatic characters of Berlin underground appeared in all its glory of Wagnerian melancholy at this exhibition, held in «Kappelhaus» walls.
Your works are mostly monochromatic. Why are you so fond of black-and-white aesthetics?
Black-and-white photo creates impression of high contrast. It possesses big dramatic feature and poetic sentiment... When I just became interested in photo, I worked exclusively with a color film. And presently, while shooting for fashion, I sometimes apply to color.
Where did your interest to photo come from?
I wished to capture reality, instants of present, so-called time spirit... Later, in 80th, I was carried away with such music genres, as punk rock and new wave. Then underground culture started developing in Berlin, it was in opposition to leading dictatorship. I was born and brought up in GDR, aspiration for self-expression in strict frames of regime was forced and that was characteristic feature of created subculture. However, after the Fall of Berlin wall, in 1989, absolutely different life started for us. It was a period of re-estimation of values: people were unaware, what to do with their former views. And I was also among them.
Immersing into atmosphere of clubs, appeared then in Berlin, helped me to isolate from the external world. I left my hobby, circle of my communication changed, although I lost something, however, at the same time I acquired something new. I returned to photo activity in the beginning of 2000th, and this passion hasn’t been ceased hitherto. However, the life is changeable at all.
I change, my friends change and photo allows me capturing instants of escaping reality.
Do you still work with film?
Yes, as I have no desire of snapping out five thousand shots, like photographers shooting on "digital". Film shooting creates careful attitude to photographic process itself: it is necessary to concentrate, to think over in advance... And the process itself takes a lot of time and this gives rise to anticipation feeling. It is interesting to observe difference between how you saw it and what was in the result.
I am frequently invited to shoot photos of young DJs, however here also I use analogue photo. Running mostly around young men, I feel connections with them, we have exchange of knowledge, however, as for equipment, then I am loyal to my principles in this case. By the way, in "Altar" audio visual installation my shots, captured on celluloid, are combined with Marseilles Dettmann’s techno music - it seems to be an amazing combination.
Can you tell the names of photographers, influencing on your activity?
These are masters of portrait and pornographic photo, such as Robert Mapplethorpe, Herbert Tobias, and also William Klein, Nan Goldin... However, I derive inspiration from my communication with people, fashion and other adjacent arts.
You stick to certain style in photo: setting with bright, extravagant types. Didn’t you wish to reach out to other genres, for example, to event photography or to street photography?
I don’t refer myself to photographers, who shoot everything they see. However, of course, in search of pulse, I keep watching over people much time. Presently, I am fond of conceptual photo and I work in this context: I choose themes for future sets, I develop stage settings... Protagonists of my photos are persons, close to me, musicians, actors, in general, those persons, with whom I work with in the club.
Though I don’t refer to documentation, I try to transfer Berlin’s atmosphere in my photos, similar to my feelings of it. Last few years I shoot representatives of Berlin’s night club life. I realize the project in Belgrade too. I spent about six weeks in that city. Belgrade is amazing, it is transforming in full view. There I came across interesting types in cafe, bars and then I called them to my studio for shootings. This trip affected strongly on my choice for the following project. I travelled a lot all over the world, however I found inspiration in Belgrade.
Perhaps visual aesthetics of this city, driving away to the socialist Germany, caused your nostalgia to some extent?
Yes, there are references to Berlin of the end of the last century, however, it isn’t quite nostalgia, but something similar to desire to return to 90... Unlike to many capitals of the Eastern Europe, Belgrade wasn’t subjected to fundamental changes, caused in many respects by war. City landscapes with its half ruined gloomy buildings and its inhabitants, proud, beautiful Serbs attracted my attention.
Was Baku audience the first to watch the "Altar" audio visual installation or was it demonstrated earlier in other countries?
Several years ago I met Marseilles Dettmann and he asked me about possibility of our cooperation, by combining my photos with his music. At that point we were already united by Berlin club life and my first musical portraits were created, as a result of cooperation with Dettmann. In 2014 we got acquainted with the curator Alfonce Hugo; he worked on exhibition «Spirit of Berlin» and was in search of interesting ideas. After one year we presented "Altar" in São Paulo, then in several Asian countries, in Canada and here, at last I have arrived to Baku.
YouTube is riddled with clips, containing detailed tips on ways of bypassing face control of Sven Marquardt and getting into legendary Bergheim. What influences on you at choice of club visitors?
For thirty years I have lived in atmosphere of techno music and Bergheim is my workplace. As a representative of this club, the priority for me is safety. City changes and international reputation has been formed here, flow of tourists, wishing to appear within the walls of internationally known club has been increased. All conditions for admission to Bergheim is a part of concept of this institution. There are no certain rules here, everything is individual, it is based on intuition.
You have a lot of tattoos. Are they related to any event of your biography?
It is my diary, I have been keeping it here for many years. My feelings, whole my life is here...
INTERVIEW: NONNA MUZAFFAROVA
PHOTO: ADIL YUSIFOV