Three weeks back I visited Berlin. The reason was that Alec Soth came to open up an exhibition accompanying his new project, I Know How Furiously Your Heart Is Beating. The trip was extremely refreshing in two ways: first, I’m not travelling much recently and if I do, I go with Ondra. It used to be so natural for me to wander other places with backpack and camera. I felt like unlocking a long time no seen version of myself again. Second, I came somewhere to see my favourite photographer. As I am a photographer, it doesn’t seem weird, right? But this kind of fine art of photography isn’t something you’re watching every day when you’re working. Eventually, I don’t follow photographers at all. Not emerging, not established. None. It belongs to the early years of my photographing. I loved work of Alec Soth, I still do. I remember spending what seemed to be hours gazing at his photographs while being stoned (my early way of diving into photographic world). So reviving my senses toward Alec Soth’s work felt, again, like going back to myself.
And all of this was happening in the spring Berlin, while walking the enormous socialist cityscape and discovering things I’ve never seen before here - again, unlocking secret levels of the city. It felt like spring not just because of the season.
ps: Curious about why a photograph of a black wall near a construction site should be interesting? read this.
The day after the exhibition opening, I went to a conversation between Alec Soth and a curator Ann-Christin Bertrand in Walter König Buchhandlung (btw a must-go spot for book lovers in Berlin. A ridiculous amount of hi-quality art books). I made so many remarks to remember what Soth was saying that a guy standing next to me asked: “so, for which newspaper do you work?”
I’d love to share one little making-of story he told us. It was about a portrait of a guy lying in his bed, clutching a bundle of dry flowers. It reveals a lot about why I adore Soth so much without the need to formulate it by myself.
He was a drummer studying law. I tried to photograph him at his drum set, but it didn’t feel right. The only other possible place was the bed. The flowers near the bed were the only thing there. I asked about them and he told me it was the only thing left after his girlfriend went away from him. I asked him if he wanted to have them in a picture; he said yes but pointed out he had to be very careful with them because they were so fragile.
I’ve got another recommendation: i had two points of my visit, the second one was James Turrel’s installation at the Jewish Museum Berlin. James Turrel is working with light and space in big terms. He’s a real long-life superstar of the world art scene and it’s astonishing to see his creation. In the garden of the museum, there is a huge temporary hall containing his built-in Ganzfeld, a place which you can enter and experience a sense of not knowing its end and dimensions and even colour. It’s there until October 6th.
I already have a picture here of Alec Soth in Berlin; here is Alec Soth’s portrait of James Turrel and everything is in a perfect circle.