Oliver SIEBER

Imaginary Club 2005 - 2012 - SOLD OUT!

SC (no dust jacket, as issued), 21 x 27 cm.,
422 pp., 431 ills., Ltd. to 500 copies.
Böhm / Gwinzegal 2013.
ISBN 9782953792690
signed

nicht verfügbar

 

Review:
"For his latest book, German photographer Oliver SIEBER appropriates two very different modes of so-called documentary photography towards a fictional end, using pictures of real people and places to form a complex portrait inside an 'Imaginary Club'.
Seven years spent traveling the global punk, goth, skin, mod, rockabilly, psychobilly — you-name-it circuits has resulted in a mammoth 432-page self-published monograph (BöhmKobayashi/GwinZegal), which at first might appear like an encyclopedic survey of contemporary youth subculture and counter-culture around the world. That would be a colossal, almost absurd task, recalling Edward StTEICHEN’s The Family of Man exhibition and undoubtedly befitting the book’s size, but Sieber says he sought nothing of the sort.
'A good record store, or a club, with good music can be like an island for me. Everywhere I travel I try to find those places,' he says. 'Maybe in this way, yes, you can call it a self-portrait. It’s all my personal interests and preferences put together in my personal context.'
Within this meeting of the tribes, so to speak, there is also convergence of two distinct photographic subcultures. Half the book features formally restrained, typological color portraits in the tradition of the Düsseldorf School (SIEBER’s hometown), which makes me think of a combination of Thomas Ruff’s Passport photos and the Straight-Ups pioneered by i-D magazine. Black-and-white snapshots of club, street and concert scenes are mixed in equal proportion. These images are rough, blurred and out-of-focus in the tradition of Japanese photographers like Daido MORIYAMA.

In contrast to SiIEBER’s earlier work, where he had considered themes to work around and planned for cumbersome equipment, with this he says he simply pulled aside anyone who caught his eye for a quick capture. 'No more backdrops, no large format anymore, just a convenient camera and a small flash,' he says. 'I also gave precise instructions and took only three or four shots.'
His subjects, met in places as disparate as Birmingham, Helsinki and Tokyo, come with a flurry of piercing, tattoos, patches, accessories and gravity-defying hair—what SIEBER terms stylecodes. These are signifiers of otherness, identity not of a fixed definition, but related in opposition to the varied dominate cultures — the when and where — from which they hail. Pictured en masse and immersed in the many pages of this book, the far-flung subjects reveal themselves with some striking similarity.
'People often ask for more information about my work,' SIEBER says. 'I don’t like giving away too much detail, however, just some hints pointing out some directions to think about.'
Rather than marking his images with fixed, definitive captions, SIEBER includes a Tweeted Encyclopedia about the work with a directory of mostly vague hashtags for the subjects (i.e. #Cosplay #RolandBarthes #TheCure #HorrorPunk) which places the work into a fluid and interactive context.
'What I like about Twitter or other digital platforms is the possibility to connect your works with videos and music through links,' he says.
Those who encounter the work are left to decide which links to follow and what direction to choose when making meaning of the visual and textual signifiers. It is a sublime non-place SIEBER shows us, which seems to exist somewhere in the interpretive space between the subject, artist and audience." (Eugene RESNIK, 2014)

"Seit vielen Jahren bittet Oliver SIEBER junge Leute vor seine Kamera, deren Aufzug ganz im Zeichen der Dresscodes einer bestimmten jugendlichen Subkultur stehen, seien sie Punks, Skins, Teds, Rockabillies, Wave Gothics, etc. Manchmal sind sie extravagant gestylt, manchmal ist ihr Auftritt nur verhalten, manchmal sind es einfach nur einzelne Figuren, deren Erscheinung ihn interessiert.
Trotz ihrer engen Kadrierung und der Präzision der fotografischen Abbildung haben SIEBERs Porträts eine Form entwickelt, die seinen Modellen einen gewissen Freiraum lässt. Scheinbar versunken in ihren Gedanken, den Blick in die Weite gerichtet, strahlen sie eine bestimmte Autonomie aus, ein 'Für-sich-sein' im kurzen Moment der Aufnahme. Dieser Freiheit entspricht SIEBERs Organisationsweise der Bilder in der jüngsten Präsentation seiner Arbeit: In 'Imaginary Club' folgen die Figuren keiner typologischen Ordnung, der Fotograf kombiniert vielmehr die farbigen Bildnisse verschiedener Serien mit Schwarzweißaufnahmen von Straßenszenen oder Konzerten und entwirft im Nebeneinander der verschiedenen Typen und ihrer Orte einen 'imaginären Club', eine Koexistenz unterschiedlicher Styles, die sich über die Differenz zum gesellschaftlichen Mainstream definieren.
Dass seine Porträts in Europa, in den USA oder in Japan entstanden sind, gibt eine Idee davon, wie sich die Schattengewächse der Subkulturen im globalisierten Underground des Pops fortpflanzen und verändern." (Text: Florian EBNER, Leiter der photographischen Sammlung/Museum Folkwang, in: Ausstellungstext zur Ausstellung Katja Stuke und Oliver Sieber Our house, Photomuseum Braunschweig)