For many years Oliver Sieber has been asking young people to appear before his camera, people whose clothing is associated with a specific subculture, be it punk, skin, teddy boy, rockabilly, goth, etc. Many are extravagantly styled, yet while sometimes the look is an elaborate act, other times an individual figure’s appearance strikes the artist’s interest. Despite the narrow frame and the precision of the photographic depiction, the form of Sieber’s portraits lends the models a certain freedom. Seemingly lost in their thoughts, staring into the distance, they exude an autonomy, a presence within themselves at the moment when the image is made.This freedom also corresponds to the manner in which Sieber displays the pictures in the most recent presentation of his work. In Imaginary Club the figures are not arranged according to types, instead the photographer combines the images of different colour series with black and white shots of street scenes or concerts. In these juxtapositions of different styles and locations he creates an ‘imaginary club ‘, a co-existence of diverse styles that define themselves by the way in which they diverge from mainstream society. The fact that the portraits were created in Europe, the U.S. and Japan indicates how the shadowy apparitions of subcultures propagate themselves and are modified in the globalised pop underground.
– Florian Ebner
About the Artist
Oliver Sieber studied photography in Bielefeld and Düssseldorf. Since 1999 he has worked with Katja Stuke on Frau Böhm, a photo project in the form of a magazine, see www.frau-boehm.de. Sieber’s work usually takes the form of series and he is fascinated by the subject of identity and the phenomenon of young people and their subcultures. This led to the series SkinsModsTeds, B-Boyz B-Girlz, 11Girlfriends and Boy meets Girl. In 2006 he spent time in Japan for an artist in residence program, where he made the series J_Subs as well as character thieves, for which he photographed young people dressed up as their favorite manga characters. Over the past few years exhibitions of his work have been held at, among others, the Photographers Gallery London, the Photographische Sammlung SK/Stiftung Kultur in Cologne, the National Museum of Photography in Copenhagen, the Photo Espana Festival in Madrid, your Gallery in Krakow and Fotomuseum Winterthur. Sieber has published a number of books. The latest two are based on his work character thieves an imaginary club.
Katja Stucke, born 1968, is a German photographer. She studied from 1988 to 1993 she studied visual communication in Dusseldorf, specializing in typography, photography / film. From 1993 to 1998 she worked for Michael Schirner. Together with Oliver Sieber, with whom she forms an artist couple and runs a joint studio in Düsseldorf, she publishes the photography project Frau Böhm, which developed into Böhm / Kobayashi.
About the Publisher
Böhm Kobayashi is Katja Stuke and Oliver Sieber who cover an extensive range of personas: photographers and artists, curators and exhibition organizers, designers and art book editors. Yet as they move through their photographic cosmos, it is not always so easy to determine where one identity ends and the other begins. Regardless, in their works and activities as artists and art facilitators they have long since become moderators of a very specific photographic culture.
GwinZegal is an Art and Research Centre which provides a resource for people who are interested in the various facets of photography and photographs – how they are created, produced, disseminated, studied, published, and collected, in today’s society.