Your new book contrasts interestingly with you previous work; it feels more introspective somehow, less about excess, and more about contemplation?
I’m happy that you point this out, because this was definitely my intention. I’d like to say that if my previous book is the party, this new one is the afterparty — but afterparties can also be wild and hedonistic, so the analogy does not really work! I just wanted to put together something that feels moodier and atmospheric, because I was myself in an introspective mood. The fact that I made the selection of the images around February, at the slow end of yet another Berlin winter might have also played a role. My intention was to create a visual result that reflected the song by Anne Clarke that the book got its title from (and that everyone should listen to because it’s a fantastic track). I am glad that I achieved it while still using a plethora of sun-drenched images shot last summer.
The phallus is, well, pretty central in your work. But there is also a diverse set of bodies and identities represented. Do you find that queer photography — and arguably queer culture at large — is too cis-male and white centric, and how do you negotiate that?
To put it bluntly, there’s a lot of dick in my publications because my work is first and foremost a documentation and exploration of my own desire and experiences. As far as consciously choosing the type of bodies that get featured on my work, this is absolutely the case because I think in our time and age representation matters and every content creator has this responsibility. That said, it’s also a challenge having this casting process feel organic because one can easily fall into the tokenism pit.
You have talked about photographing your surroundings, personal experience, friends and lovers. How do you work with your subjects, and how do they feel about being part of your work?
I think that at this point there is no one in my close — or even not so close — environment who doesn’t know the kind of images that I produce, so it has come to be expected and accepted from them that my camera might come out at any time. When it comes to new people who might come into my life, I don’t think that I’m interested in coming close to anyone who would object to me photographing them in personal moments.
Who’s this boy from Anne Imhof’s performances, who appears a lot in your work?
You are probably referring to Billy Bultheel. He has been a good friend since 2015 and we also live on the same street in Neukölln. He is featured on a lot of photos on my first book and it’s also him on the back cover. He doesn’t just perform, he also composes the music for Anne Imhof’s performances. He invited me to catch her last show Sexat the Tate Modern last month and it was a really fantastic experience — it was also great documenting it.