Werner Amann has been living in Berlin since 1998 – and shoots in locations around the world where he can immerse himself. This enables him to establish a special intimacy to the places and protagonists in his works (landscapes and portraits).There is a constant flux between closeness and distance that oscillates in Amann’s images. His works express his great respect for fleeting encounters and the deep impression they’ve left on him.
- * 1969, lives and works in Berlin
- Residency at the School of Printing, London, 1996
- Diploma Visual Communication, FH Dortmund in, 1997
- Awards: 1st Prize for Americans, Photo Book Festival Kassel, 2010; Art Directors Club Germany, Appreciation for Ads, 2003; Fellowship Villa Aurora, Los Angeles
- Publications: Surf Fiction, White Press, Freiburg, 2014; American, Seltmann und Söhne, Berlin, 2010
”Für immer jung”, Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin 2011
“Translatlantische Impulse”, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin 2005
“Form Follows Function”, Fotobiennale, Rotterdam 2000
“With my portraits, I’m in a kind of gray area between closeness and distance.“
You’ve taken photos all over the world. At what moment do you pick up your camera?
I want to find a space – something like Miami Beach, where I can spend an intensive amount of time concentrating, where I can get sucked into a certain vortex. I’ve also shot in Berlin in the last few years, but leaving for other locations results in a sharpness of perception, and thereby, very dynamic work. I need good tension, something that fascinates and attracts me, but also contains strong contradictions.
You once said that the entire world is turning into Los Angeles. What did you mean?
I experienced Los Angeles of the 90s as a living future fantasy: completely real and mediatized at the same time. The title of my book, Surf Fiction, (the focus is on Los Angeles) plays with the concept of science fiction – that is, placing media culture in a relationship with social reality. Even then, the proximity of the film studios was doing something with people and how they lived and presented themselves.
Why are you interested in Los Angeles as a theme?
The original idea was to observe a city or a metropolitan area like a stage and to consider the meanings of scenes and situations. Discussions about Surf Fiction stressed criticisms of American in my photos about and in Los Angeles. My images also contain something voyeuristic and clichéd. However, it was also important to me that the individual was identifiable. Up to that point, my work was critical of America: a fascination with a tensely loaded place was my starting point, but I consolidated the images in a photo editing session so that the work was open to interpretation in many different directions.
In your images from the series “Techno Nineties” it’s almost like you’re in the middle of a rave, these impressive portraits are anything but classic.
In the portraits, which I photographed day and night, I get close to the people, but I’m in a kind of gray area between closeness and distance. I could have gone even closer, photographed even more emotionally, so that you could smell the sweat, the people. Personally, I really like this middle zone.
Do theoretical approaches help you when you’re shooting?
Before and after: yes. When photographing, it’s more about forgetting everything.