When shooting these images of Venice, Vienna and Beijing, I shook the camera – and at this very moment they revealed their hidden magic.
Venice in Mourning
Venice has become an overcrowded Disneyland. More and more residents are leaving for good, because it is almost unbearable to live there. In September 2020, I photographed Venice before sunrise, with empty streets and places. Only at these moments you can see her heartbreaking beauty. But she was wearing a veil – as if she was in mourning.
Metamorphoses shows the transformation of natural looking images – trees – into something very artificial – technical grids and networks. The transition from one to the other in the image itself is marked by a blurring, as a result of shaking hand movements during the shots. Other metamorphoses take place just like in any other photography: From a three-dimensional structure in nature to a two-dimensional of the photo or the transition from natural trees into a binary system of 0 or 1 on the memory card of the cellphone. Metamorphoses was shot in 2019 at the “Prater” – an alluvial nature reserve in Vienna. I used the most revolutionary machine of our time, a cellphone, and worked with a deliberately wrong application of a panoramic app.
Bridges are symbols of connection – between people, cultures and countries. “The Bridge” is a metaphor for the current political, social and environmental situation: Our common world seems to be falling apart. The pictures were shot in April 2019 in NYC during a thunderstorm on the East River Ferry.
New York skyscrapers are symbols of power and money. They force you to look upwards and feel small. But at rainy days, when you look in the opposite direction, down to the reflections in the puddles, you can see another world, with eerie colors, shapes and distortions, caused by debris, mud, leaves, undercoating, dirt and wind. Even the reflected persons seem to stem from another place and another age. In these pictures, shot 2014/15, New York, is set on fire, distorted, falling apart or being flooded. A world upside down – Apocalypse.
Some inhabitants of Sag Harbor/Long Island wrap their cold-sensitive plants in the fall with jute fabric, to prevent freezing during winter. It is an elaborate and quite expensive process. The wraps are hand-made, customized to the specific shapes of the plants.
The undercover plants remind me of the many undercover investigations I had undertaken as a nonfiction author and journalist, to uncover secrets. I posed as a doctor, as an heir of a very rich man, an export-import trader, a patient, a pharmaceutical salesman, a consulter and some other professionals – to find out, how pharmaceutical companies bribe doctors, how multinational companies evade taxes, how they manage to sell outrageously overprized products, how they corrupt politicians and so on.
The photos were taken in 2016.
This series is a tribute to two great Italian works of art:
The Renaissance painting „La Primavera“ by Sandro Botticelli from 1478 and the music piece „La Primavera“ by the Venetian composer Antonio Vivaldi, written in 1725.
The photos were taken during a railway ride 2012 in Tyrol/Austria and printed in 2018 (archival inkjet on transparent paper, with acrylic paint on the back side).
The Towers of Babel
„And the whole earth was of one language and of one speech. And as the people journeyed from the east, they said one to another, let us build a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven. It was called Babel. And the Lord said: Let us confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. And the lord scattered them abroad upon the face of all the earth.” (Genesis; II:1-9)
The “Tower of Babel” was the first skyscraper and a symbol of arrogance. The skyscrapers of NYC symbolize the opposite of the biblical “Tower of Babel”: People from all over the world come to this place and feel united and at home. Although they speak 170 different languages, they understand each other.
The photos of this series have been shot from a similar angle as Pieter Bruegel the Elder used 1563 in his famous painting “Tower of Babel”: The bird’s-eye view. All pictures were taken with an IPhone on the 10th floor of the NYU Library, at the same spot, between 2014 and 2018, at different times and seasons. There was always the same view, but every single image of the 3.000 pictures was as different as the people in NYC.
The selected 27 photographs are assigned to five different topics: Emotions, Seasons, Daytimes, Cloud and Values.
Dancing Souls at Canal Grande
For centuries, day by day, as darkness falls, the same ceremony takes place at Canal Grande. The souls of the founders of Venice meet and start dancing and celebrating the beauty of what they have created with their hands and minds. Out of the muddy waters they built a dream-like city, stone by stone, on millions of wooden piles, which they hit into the swamps.
The dance lasts only a few minutes and one must hurry to catch the delicate moments, when Venice shows his magical essence: Water, light and stones. All of a sudden, here and there, the souls show up as flickering lights, flashing and disappearing.