antje sauer photography – a digital visual archive
What directly inspired you to make this photographic cycle?
Before my travel to china I was trying to find any concept what to photograph in this »exotic strange far east«. I was wondering, how so many people could live together in this megacities. There are similiarities to the life in other big cities – whereever they are localized. People are individuals – although there are millions of them living in one town.
Did you took pictures in china finally?
After one day beeing totally overloaded with the visual rush I left my camera at the flat, to beeing more free. Two days later I was starting with some portraits of people I met by accident at the street. Trying to communicate with hands and signs, because I dont speak chinese... After the travel, as i watched the contact sheets – I found one common ground, pictures of lonelyness, of figures in an urban sourrounding that has no big marks of signs and words or advertisment – more like a graphic background. Shapes and colors. There was always the human beeing inbeetween urban »constructions«, forming and using this unnatural/artificial spaces. In very crowded cities I was mostly photographing lonely people.
How would you describe the attitude of the people from pictures toward theirs spaces?
I guess, its probably really normal for most of the people, who are raised in cities, to feel »natural« with this artificial spaces and all the problems, which are connected to the life there (e.g. noise & pollution). It's going on, day by day. It's a cycle and we are all part of this. I have more an analytical view in this work. A far distance to people, to show more the cirumstances and not a specific portrait of a single person and its physiognomy. Although there are still sad encounters in my memory. I met one young man, who lived at his family place on the countryside before he was going to study in Nanjing (>5.800.000 citizens). To earn all the money for living there he worked in three jobs, without any social contacts or freetime. He really wished to return to his family....
What is the position of the narrator-author in this cycle? What is the nature of personal connection between you and the project?
I was asking me, what facts are forming a character? And there is also the question – which person I would be, if I would raised in other circumstances? Would I be more relaxed, living closer to the nature? Is this, what I need? Every photographic work is for me connected with a searching. My perception is forming the picture and the picture gives me maybe an answear. I try to understand, what's going around. How is society working.
What are places shown in photographs? What meanings do they have in the cycle? (historic/ mental/ social point)
Places of normal day living, no special places or historical/touristic sights. A backyard of a school in Nanjing, a stadion of boxing events after the show, a bridge in Shanghai over the Suzhou river, where a man trys to sell small items like bicycle inner tubes, workers in shanghai, who preparing a brandnew street, where former old traditional living houses where situated. It all happened right beside the »big business«. I am interested in this moments, when reality seems like formed by an author. Workers became dancers (performers), esthetical well placed. But there is no director, the – let it call again reality – gives us this stories. (It's another question, what reality means.) To catch this moments is quiet satisfying.
Interview by Natalia Daszkiewicz / GRID Magazine #1, 2010