Roger Ballen’s artist talk at Bildband Berlin
It’s the evening before our move, so in between packing boxes – mostly the classic 1/3 photo books on the bottom, 2/3 clothes on top mix – I still plan to go over to the fine guys at Bildband Berlin to listen to Roger Ballen and shake hands with that wonderful photographer.
I was not smart enough to pack his books last so I can get them signed – drat. So I just grab my little T3 & some rolls of Tri-X. When I arrive it is pretty packed and I don’t really get into hearing distance or a matching photo angle during the talk. When the talk is over, I queue in the signature line to say hello.
Standing in line I look at the way Roger Ballen signs the books – making individual drawings for every single one. For a split second I think about just buying a copy of Outlands since my copy is burried somewhere in the pre move chaos of our flat, but I have to confess I’m not so much a signature collector than just a guy who enjoys looking at good photography I guess. As Jonas Bendiksen once put it, if I was, I could have funded attending his Magnum Masterclass with a copy of Satellites or two that he could have signed ;-). It’s just not in me I guess, but back to the artist talk.
I’m next to meet him – we shake hands and I thank him for the inspiration, telling him how much I enjoy all the small subtle details in his pictures, like the one that hangs behind him. “Yes, and there also is a rat in the picture” he replies, and we both have to grin. Asking me if I’m a photographer, I state that I’m only a photo enthusiast. Don’t know where you draw the line these days. For me, somehow somebody not earning money with pictures working a small side job feels more suitable to be called a pro than me – since my side job is kind of lucrative. Maybe a topic for another post, once more back to Roger Ballen ;-).
After the talk and book signing part of the evening is over, it’s pretty nice to hang out in front of Bildband Berlin. It’s great to have had a shop like this in my old neighborhood, I have visited way too seldom but it’s one of the few reasons left to go back and visit Prenzlauer Berg, which somehow shares the fate of Williamsburg to put it into perspective. Anyways, if you’re in Berlin make sure to check out this gem of a bookshop. It’s like a more organized and bigger version of the coffee table beside my couch – equipped with nice photobooks to discover.