The following article was published in N-SPHERE March 2010 issue.


2010 marks 20 years of Tiger Lillies and the reworking of Circus Songs into a new & surreal double-album: Freakshow. Why have you chosen the circus world as a predominant vehicle for your artistic ideas?

I was on tour in Germany last week we were talking about acts who have appeared with us. Someone said one of the artists had fallen and can’t perform anymore because she lost her nerve. Then there’s the constant movement from place to place and the history of the carnival…it just seems like a wonderful subject to write stories about. People who are visitors outsiders…

The opening track finishes with “After your heart has been consumed/ Your normality sent to its doom/ You’ll be deformed as the rest”. In the light of these lyrics, would your acts on stage lead to transgression, and thus framing the entrance to an inverted & deviant world for your audience?

Yes that’s the idea. Giving people a sense of other worlds other ways of looking at things. I said in an interview recently I was was starting to make less sense than a politician. They tend to speak gibberish! What is normal what is deviant. Is the inverted any stranger than the normal?

Supposing that the public “enters” the freakshow universe, does this destabilization of social and mental order last only during the show or does it linger after it is finished, as well?

If social and mental order are just a trick or an illusion… Then destabilizing them sounds like a good idea.

Freakshows in the 19th century also had as purpose “shocking” their spectators by presenting physical anomaly as a disease and, to a certain extent, individuals at the root of pathologies. Does this principle make sense in a 21st century that is oversaturated with violence? Are there any reasons left for employing shock value?

It comes quite easily for me to be able to shock people. Some people seem to like to be shocked (then there are others who don’t). I think it’s more about context… violence is only one way of many to shock. I think nothing disturbs people more than when they don’t quite understand what you are saying.

Most of the time, your lyrics seem to make use of irony, but to some degree there also seems to be a weak moral aspect to them. Do you regard yourself as ambivalent, or more opting for one of those two stances?

I feel like an observer. It seems to make people uncomfortable. Not to have a moral stance that must be bad? Oh well I must be bad then! I blame it on my parents they had such strong moral views about things… I thought it was bad. So maybe I’m good but I know that I’m not… but moral people are a pain in the ass and not good either.

To what extent could we still talk about the existence of “spectator” and “performer” as opposing units nowadays? That line tends to get blurrier and blurrier, as contemporary artists are trying to bridge the gap between the two.

You’d have to ask a contemporay artist about that.

In the case of circus performers, life entangles with performance. How does your musical career intermesh with your private lives?

Totally entangled and intermeshed my whole life is there in my songs! The essence and reason for my existence.

Tiger Lillies gather numerous fans from other musical subcultures such as goth/pospunk/neofolk etc. Do you believe a similarity could be drawn between counter–/sub–cultures and the circus world, in the sense that they are both marginal and they could function as art of resistance? How would Tiger Lillies’ themes fit into that concept?

I’m a bit uncomfortable with counter culture, rock festivals that kind of thing. I’m not sure that’s what we’re about at all. I think circus works more from within the mainstream.

Tiger Lillies has come a long way so far, constantly surpassing artistic boundaries. What influenced you most when you started as a band and what do you find inspiring now?

Oh Marlena Dietrich, Threepenny Opera, Jacques Brel, Gypsies… and nothing’s really changed!

You’ve recently taken part in the Twisted Cabaret project, opening their album. How was it working with them?

I didn’t work with them they took a track and put it on their CD. But I am happy it’s on there and support the idea.

While contributing to their compilation, have you found any new acts worth keeping a closer eye on?

Well I like it when they do versions of my songs! I’ve listened to Tiger Lillies radio on Last fm there’s some good stuff on it.

What are your thoughts on performing at the Berliner Ensemble, near Bertolt Brecht Platz in Germany? Do you believe one could still talk about a Brechtian feel and a Decadent pattern surfacing in Berlin nowadays or is it mostly about nostalgia for a bygone era?

Oh no the ghosts are all watching me from the balconies and one day I will join them! I like Berlin I have been so influenced by it’s art and culture. I watched Fassbinder’s Berlin Alexander Platz recently. That had a huge influence on me when I watched it in my twenties!

If you hadn’t been involved in both the music & theatre world, what paths would you have chosen, individually?

An old friend of mine recently suggested I’d have ended up as a junky…

And last but not least, one of the best things about Tiger Lillies is their portrayal as “madmen”, both aesthetically and mentally – deconstructing normative states. Is it hard to maintain that image?

Not really I think it’s most other people who are mad! I’m still surprised by just how mad the people I meet really are. I’m very sane compared to most of the people I’ve met!

questions & photo by Diana Daia

Full article here.



The following article was published in N-SPHERE March 2010 issue.


More as a preface than a first question, in order to familiarize our readers with Pinoreks: who is behind this project and how did it come into being?

Well, we’re just four friends making music for some time. We started more than 10 years ago with some sipmle three–chord–punk–stuff, fooling around with simple songs and ideas. We had no idea and no special plan, what kind of music all this would develop to, we just did it on a good level.

What does “Pinoreks” stand for and what led to choosing it as a band name?

The word “Pinorek” is a very slang–like word in some areas of Germany. It refers to small and insignificant little things. Insignificant enough to not even have a real name. First we performed under this name just as a joke but step by step people got us to know better and so we didn’t want to change it anymore. Basically we identify with this name on a certain level: we don’t take ourselves too serious or important – we’re just Pinoreks.

Are you/have you been involved in other bands or art projects?

Oh yes, we all made/still make music in different projects or bands. Our music taste is highly diversified, which is why we make different music in all our projects. If one is really interested in making music he can’t get enough of it. It’s like a drug. The more you use it, the more you want…

Your most recent album is entitled “There Is Hope”. One of the tracks that stand out includes the following: “war games/you play your war games/your fucking war games/but not my war games”. Do you think that through music, a band could engage actively with certain political and social issues?

We recently released a new album called “indifferent topics”. “There is hope” was released some time ago as a 12″ vinyl LP, the recent album is released as CD. Anyway you”re right. Our recent album contains a track named “war games” which contains the lines you quoted. We’re not entirely sure about what music can really do with people’s motivations and beliefs. If one hates the colour green he won’t start to worship it just because we sing about… But let’s not underestimate the emotional impact that music has on people. We’re always thrilled about how our music goes directly to people’s hearts and legs, making them singing, shouting or dancing. Perhaps this is he true meaning of music: touching people’s hearts, not their rationality.

Later on you mention “you have to break the rules/to finally beat your enemy/you have to study his behavior/to get your victory”. These ideas could be more or less linked to the punk movement, also implying that solutions can be achieved through collective means. Would this notion apply in our time as well, considering that people are more and more inclined to passivity and self–sufficiency?

Indeed, the basic idea of this track was borrowed from the punk movement of the 70’s. But it also fits for our times, maybe also for he future. What we say in this track is: Move your ass! If you want to change something you have to leave all conventional ways. If you want to change a system, you have to be outside of it, not captured inside. Therefore it doesn’t matter what kind of “enemy” you want to fight. If you want to fight media – don’t watch it, if you want to fight politicians – don’t listen to or believe them, if you want to fight any industry – don’t buy their products. Surely, it is easier to lay back and abandon oneself to the comfort and intellectual convenience that we all get to see in TV daily, but if you want to change something you have to use your own mind.

Quite contradictory, the album unfolds with “you try to speak/but a fist’s in your puss/what you need is what you get/you try to swim/but concrete’s on your feet/what you need is what you get/you try to fuck/but your cock is cut off”. Would this denote impossibility of action or more likely being in a constant struggle?

See, songs are created under different circumstances. None of our songs contains the whole, the one and only truth. This song actually is rather a kind of menace to anyone who thinks that he can act without getting any consequences. Everything you do has a cause and an effect, even if you sit at home silently. That doesn’t mean an “impossibility of action” at all. It rather means a constant struggle and a responsibility for the results of your actions. You always get the reward for your actions: a kiss maybe, or a kick in the ass.

A predominant theme in your lyrics also seems to be the never–ending cycle we, as humans, are part of. Would this be relevant in the context of music and genres as well? Would you argue that musicians are stuck in a historical loop, bound to repeat what others did twenty/thirty years ago, or do you think that this “repetition” brings along reinvention as well?

A philosophical question, not easy to answer, especially as I don’t really “write” the lyrics. They just come to me during our rehearsals. If new chords or song structures are introduced to me I try to “feel” what this new stuff could be about, I try to get into the music to search for its emotional message. If I find it, the words and the inspiration for rhyme, verses and refrains comes from alone. Surely, everything, including us, is a part of “becoming & decaying”. Relating to music this would mean, music styles, rhythms, melodies… all this is coming and going like seasons. May be good things of each period survive, others not. And coming generations discover what was lost, reinvent it and develop it further in order to recreate something new. For us it is not relevant if we get stuck in any loop or de facto create something new. We just do, what we like to do. If this has new music as a result it is ok, if it sounds like a “musical quote” from former times it is ok as well. We didn’t release any cover version, but we’re surely influenced by a lot of music from the past 20 or 30 years. The main thing is to be authentic, just oneself.

“all things have their season and in their times all things are passing by/a time to be born and a time to die”. Do you consider that human beings are conditioned by fate and faith or more by circumstances?

Probably each of us four musicians has a different point of view concerning this question. I myself, I am not sure. Aren’t “circumstances” and “fate” the same? Isn’t the difference just, that one is a religious explanation, the other a secular one – but both fort he same chain of events that makes us what we are? See, I do a lot of ZEN meditation, empty my mind and let time and things pass by. All watched in contemplation. And, finally, I found that it doesn’t matter if things happen now, later, or never…

What are your opinions on the existing movement in Berlin? There seems to be a lot going on from very different areas, a complex blend of goth/postpunk/punk/industrial events. Are you part of that also as audience?

Honestly, we are not involved in any movement as far as we can see that now. Berlin is a melting pot, indeed. There are flowing together hundreds or thousands of ideas, millions of people. And yes, we have connections to some people here and there. But we have too much our heads in the clouds to see what’s going on right under our nose.

You’ve recently performed together with Twisted Nerve and almost performed with Romance, the latter being considered part of the new gothic/postpunk revival. Do you think we could also talk about an increase in the number of new bands in this area in Germany?

Same problem as in the question before – we simply don’t know…

“you are not of our kind/you’re stupid/you’re blind/we are not of your kind/we’re stupid/we’re blind”. Does a musician get through the composing process to a state of alienation, or by creating something, he is able to send his message across and create a “we”? How does this tie in with the polar us/them concept?

Well, sometimes I feel like a lighthouse, standing in a stormy night on a cragged coast and sending a light beam out into the infinite dark. There seems to be noone to understand or even see that light. And yes, there is a certain state of alienation which is to be felt sometimes a bit more, sometimes a bit less. Sometimes even the stage in a crowded venue can be the most lonely place on earth. The singing and dancing audience sometimes gives an illusion of “we” but after the light is on again and the show is over I see again “them” and “me”. There are not many people with whom I share a real “we”, you know.

During the creative process, are you influenced by “new” technologies (samples, effects) or do you opt for a more old school approach involving “classic” instruments (guitars, drums etc.)?

On stage we use only what you see: usual instruments with no special effects or samples. We don’t like to carry a lot of unnecessary equipment with us. We simply use what hundreds and thousands of bands used before: one drum set, one guitar, one bass, one voice. In the studio, of course, we some more electronical stuff to fully produce an album.

You’ve had a pretty energetic performance at Slaughterhouse in Berlin recently. Any chances for your fans to witness more of that soon/in the near future?

Thanks! Sure, we will play again, but I can’t remember the exact dates yet, but we will announce any show in advance on our myspace site.

What would your listeners expect from future Pinoreks’ releases? Anything you’d like to reveal?

I can only reveal the truth: We don’t know. We already work on new songs but without having any special concept – that would only limit our creativity. We never tried to follow a certain style. We just let things develop freely.

And a last question to fit our magazine’s concept: how would you describe Pinoreks’ sphere and what elements would be part of it?

Wow, that’s the most universal question we were ever asked. So, the answer is universal as well. Well, I think our sphere is made of love and hate, it is made of light and darkness, above and below. Our sphere contains the rainbow, the beauty of youth, life, death and all inbetween. Our sphere has space enough for gods, beasts, man and what has been made of them all. In our sphere you find false and right, air, water, earth and fire, blood, piss and puke. You meet oceans and deserts, hope and despair. And after all, finally and at the very end, behind day and night, sun and moon you find yourself.

questions & photo by Diana Daia

Full article here.



The following article was published in N-SPHERE March 2010 issue.


Jodorowsky’s films were never an easy treat. Flooded with symbols and characters that walked the line between the eerie and the ridiculous, they remained not only outside the mainstream cinema, but some of them outside film, as well.

His first long feature, “Fando Y Lis”, premièred at the Acapulco Film festival in 1968 and resulted in a full-scale riot. Needless to say that the Acapulco episode contributed to the Chilean-born director’s latter notoriety. As for the film itself, well, “Fando Y Lis” may very well be the result of a Fellini-Bunuel meeting down the obscure alleys of AcidTown.

Based on the Fernando Arrabal play with the same name, the film plays more like a map of symbols and deviations rather than like a proper film. While an interesting failure in its own rights, “Fandi Y Lis” gained its share of cheers from cult fans due to its bold imagery and some delicious references, one of them even being Diana Mariscal (Lis) who was modelled to fit Giulietta Masina, Fellini’s wife and muse. The amusing part is that Fellini returned the favour with allusions to “Fando Y Lis”’s imagery in his 1969 “Fellini Satyricon”.

And if “Fando Y Lis” stirred only riots, his subsequent effort, the 1970’s “El Topo” became a cult favourite, spoiled by names such as John Lennon, Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, David Lynch and Bob Dylan. John Lennon even convinced The Beatles’ manager, Allen Klein, to purchase the rights of the film and assure its worldwide distribution.

A significant improvement from his directorial début, “El Topo”, however, remained faithful to the recipe used in “Fando Y Lis”, but this time, there is a readable structure to follow, there are some characters and there is a discernible plot. While still baffling for the average moviegoer, on a closer look one can decipher the film’s mystery by paying close attention to its very beginning.

“El Topo” is also noted as being one of the, if not the first, midnight-movie. For those unfamiliar with the term, some other examples of midnight-movies will very well form an explanation: Pink Flamingos (John Waters), The Night of The Living Dead (George Romero), Suspiria (Dario Argento) and Eraserhead (David Lynch).

Aside from having a discernible plot, “El Topo”’s other advantage was that of using a familiar form – that of a western: a mystical movie in western clothes. However, the film’s goal is not to serve some mystical ideology, instead, Jodorowsky uses the idea of mysticism, rather than pulling some strong references from mystical/”occult” (I avoid this term, since it is overused these days, mystical may seem somewhat awkward in some cases, but I find it more generic/generous) authors. The symbols and references are far more general, and they do not necessarily serve the narrative. They work more on the meta-narrative structure, but since this is not an “El Topo” review, will cover those and the many-men-with-missing-limbs issue on another occasion.

Two years after “El Topo”, Jodorowsky returned with “Holy Mountain”, but the film fared less well than its predecessor. In 1980, Jodorowsky returned with “Tusk”, a film which passed unnoticed and remained, to this day, very hard to find. Nine years later, Jodorowsky helmed “Santa Sangre”, which would be widely regarded as his return to the form. While the film is more accessible than his earlier ones, it also doesn’t feel that suffocated with symbols. Following “Santa Sangre”, was “Rainbow thief” (1990) which didn’t share the same success with its predecessor.

As of this moment, it is unclear whether we’ll have a Jodorowsky project in the near future. Currently, his next feature (“Abel Cain”) is in the stages of pre-production.

Now, let us return to 1989 and “Santa Sangre”. As I mentioned earlier, this film presents a “lighter” Jodorowsky in terms of symbols, but a more robust one in terms of directing.

Mainly, Santa Sangre is a film about possession, in the same way “Psycho” was, but not in the same register. While Psycho was more on the noir-ish side of things and its leading character would surface as a monster in the end, “Santa Sangre” is more mystical and more sympathetic towards its protagonist. The film also displays a considerable number of references to Fellini, Bunuel, silent films, silent horrors and so forth.

There are several things I would like you to notice. As I said before, Jodorowsky’s works are filled with symbols and while Santa Sangre is far behind his previous works from this aspect, it still provides enough cookies to satisfy a cine-scout. For example, Fenix points to Phoenix, Alma is Soul (Alma being Fenix’s childhood friend), Concha means vagina (Concha being Fenix’s mother), while Orgo induces the notions of well, Orgo and Orgy. If you follow the film, you’ll see they make perfect sense and you may discover others yourselves.

Like “El Topo”, there is a recurrent motif. In “El Topo” it was the mole (it may not seem so, but if you take a closer look at the narrative structure, you will easily understand why), in “Santa Sangre” there are the hands/the arms.

Fenix’s mother is a leader of a cult that worships a girl (considered saint) whose arms were cut off by her rapists. One night when Concha is suspended above the circus ring by her hair, she sees Orgo with the Tattooed Lady and demands to be brought back to earth. She surprises them in bed and, enraged, she throws acid on Orgo’s genitals. As a response, Orgo cuts off her arms. When Fenix escapes from the mental institute he follows his mother, moves in with her and becomes her physical slave, by allowing her to use his arms. In the end of the film, we see the police arresting Fenix and when they demand him to put his hands up, he cheerfully repeats “My hands, my hands…”.

Removing one’s hands may lead to removing his ability to retaliate. Owning one’s hands is directing that ability. Fenix is a constant caged bird. He starts as a prisoner in that mental asylum, he continues being a prisoner when he moves in with his mother and ends up a prisoner when he is arrested in the end of the film. But this time, he had confronted his main inner jailer, so the formalities that were to follow represented an easy burden.

There is a constant fellinesque feeling throughout the first part of the film: the circus, the clowns. All of these may represent the magic of childhood. When the elephant dies, the childhood dies as well. The condor that is both a messenger and maybe a totemic animal, given two scenes when Alma touched the condor tattooed on Fenix’s chest and then mimed a bird-flight, and carries a message that he should free himself – a rebirth from ashes if you may.

There are many powerful scenes in the film, scenes that only a director confident in his imagination could create. For example, the scene after Fenix confronts the ghosts of his victims (which is also a powerful scene), is filmed as if he was in a ship about to wreck. The funeral scene in the first half is again quite remarkable and so forth. All in all, if you want to experience something unconventional and yet not impossible to follow, if you want a film that is stripped of boring conventions, this may be your call.

As a conclusion, Jodorowsky’s films refuse to be labelled, they don’t use a standard recipe to create dialogue, characters or stories. They don’t need it, their honesty and openness are enough.

Movie still: Santa Sangre

review by Shade

Full article here.



The following article was published in N-SPHERE March 2010 issue.


Good evening and welcome to the Spheres. To frame our discussion, I will start with the predictable questions first: who is Paul Frecker/Beniah Brawn and what does he do?

I’m Paul Frecker and I deal in vintage photographs, mainly material from the nineteenth century. I also collect photographs, mainly British and French cartes–de–visite from the 1860s. Beniah Brawn is an alter ego I adopted to share my collection via Flickr with anyone who’s interested. I “borrowed” the name from the first husband of one of my ancestors. The original Beniah Brawn was a soldier in the British Army who died in India in 1820.

When did you start collecting static imagery in form of photographs and how important has your personal background been?

I started collecting vintage photographs in 2003. I began with cartes–de–visite and they’re still the format that resonates most for me. Before I became a dealer, I was a fashion stylist. I was working for magazines like The Face in the 1980s, then in the 90s I moved into TV commercials and music videos. Obviously, styling is a very visual profession so I suppose I was always training my eye and developing my aesthetic.

Why a particular interest in the Victorian Era? Were there any influences or elements that triggered it?

I’ve been interested in history since I was a child and for me a photograph is at the very least a window into the past. Occasionally an exceptional one can even acquire some of the qualities of a relic, in the religious sense. As for influences, it’s actually the other way round: vintage photography created my obsession with the nineteenth century. Through collecting cartes–de–visite I got more and more interested in the period and now I’m reading for an MA in Victorian Studies at Birkbeck University.

How many pieces does your collection amount to now?

I’ve got over 1500 cartes by Silvy and more than 1000 by Disdéri. Then there are all the other cartes, probably 2000 or more, plus there’s the post mortem collection, which amounts to about 300 photographs now. Also a few more cabinet cards, stereoviews and other formats.

Even for the ignorant eye, it is easy to notice that your collected items are not the typical portrayals of Victorians. From sideshow freaks to sexual “inversion”, do you think that photographs manage to individualize them or alter them into “types”, considering the Victorians’ fetish with classification?

I don’t think the photographing of them necessarily turned them into “types” but I think there’s a danger that the collecting of them can do that. However, some photographs were certainly seen that way when they were taken; for example, my collection of Russian street vendors or my collection of Peruvian “types”. But to take another area of my collection, people with their backs to the camera, each of those was a portrait of an individual when it was taken. Similarly, my collection of black Britons or my collection of ambassadors from the East. It’s only by acquiring a number of them and storing them together that a classification is created. It’s the same for any other theme that one might collect, be that opera singers, ballet dancers, nuns or dogs.

Delving into the complex tapestry of the Victorian Age definitely has to be a challenging experience. What was the most bizarre thing you came across in terms of imagery and how hard is it to find items?

All the more bizarre images that spring to mind are ones that for one reason or another I failed to acquire! I remember a cabinet card of the back of two shaved heads with numbers painted on them. There was also a carte–de–visite of a hand holding up a sheet of corrugated iron that had been peppered with holes during a hailstorm in Ireland. As for how hard it is to find photographs, extraordinary ones don’t come along very often. You need a lot of patience and a bit of luck to be a collector. You can’t just go out and buy a collection. You have to choose your theme and then wait for photographs that interest you to turn up. And hope that when they do you’ll be in the right place at the right time.

Are persons approachable when it comes to revealing fragments of their ancestors’ lives?

Actually, it’s often the other way round. Most people know nothing of the lives of their ancestors and I’m usually the person providing the information.

Do XIXth century photographs furnish evidence on ways of living? Would a photograph be capable of mirroring a past reality or does it become a reality in itself through the artistic medium?

During the period that interests me most, the majority of the surviving photographs bear witness to the lives of a particular section of society, which by and large is the most privileged section. Most of the population didn’t have access to photography. With a few notable exceptions, there are relatively few photographs of poor people. However, those that could afford the luxury did leave us evidence of their existence and these photographs do mirror a past reality, in so far as they make the statement “I was here”.

Almost 200 years ago, genealogy was significant as it ensured a position in the social sphere, photography being a big part of that. Do you think that our roots are still relevant in our time when everything tends to get homogeneous?

For me, personally, my ancestors are very relevant, though not because they ensure any social position. My family tree is a complete mixture of social classes and I’m just as interested in the ancestors who died in the workhouse as I am in the more illustrious ones. The blood of all of them runs in my veins. My existence gives meaning to their lives and their lives give meaning to my existence.

The Victorians are thought to have been very secretive in certain aspects, especially if we think about the constructed dichotomy of private/ public. Do you think that the things we come across now are what they “allowed” to be seen, a whole unknown space being hidden from us as it has never been documented?

There’s a lot of nonsense written about the Victorians. They’re much maligned and much misunderstood. I think the whole thing about the dichotomy between their private and public lives is hugely exaggerated. That said, I think we all make conscious and subconscious choices concerning the facets of our personalities and lives we present to the camera. I don’t think the Victorians did this to a greater or lesser extent than we do today. Admittedly, a visit to the photographer’s studio entailed a lot more conscious decisions about self–representation than, say, a friend taking a snap of you on his mobile phone does today. But Victorian photographs weren’t just images, they were also objects, with a physical presence, which is why so many survive. In our digital age, most of our photographs are just images on a screen. Given the way in which they’re stored, how many of the snapshots we take will survive into the next century?

Your collection also comprises a large number of postmortem photographs. It is perhaps a paradox that in the XIXth century sex was considered to be private, while death was brought into the public sphere. Do you think we could talk about a reversal nowadays or more likely about the erasure of the “private” notion, since everything tends to be recorded, captured and made public?

That’s a very interesting comparison. I think one could easily argue that nowadays sex has been brought far too far into the public sphere, while conversely many people now find it awkward to discuss their own mortality. Queen Victoria was deeply fascinated by the minutiae of other people’s funerals and left detailed instructions for the execution of her own. Today, many people would consider that morbid. Certainly, many people nowadays consider the practice of photographing the dead somewhat macabre. Personally, I find the Victorian attitude to death far healthier than ours.

Following that thought, would this age we live in be of any interest for collectors in the future?

Yes, of course. Every age will inevitably becoming interesting. And it takes a lot less time now for a period to acquire the roseate glow of nostalgia than it once did. I don’t think anyone in the 1870s was particularly interested in the 1850s, at least, not in the way that the 1970s and 1980s are already considered of such interest to cultural and social historians.

Are there many collectors of XIXth century artifacts in the United Kingdom nowadays?

Yes, I think so. Of course there’s not only vintage photography but also many, many other spheres of collecting. Books, ephemera, toys, china, glassware, antiques, textiles, farm tools… I don’t think there can be many varieties of nineteenth–century artifact that aren’t collected by somebody.

Most persons interested in collecting bygone eras’ items belong to the upper class, as these articles are unattainable to a large number of people. Do you believe that visual culture has to be restricted to a certain social stratum for its own preservation?

You seem to be confusing the rich and the upper class; they’re not the same thing at all, at least, not in this country. But in any case, I don’t think what you’re saying is true. One doesn’t need to invest huge sums of money in order to assemble an interesting collection. Well, perhaps if you choose to collect seascapes by Gustave Le Gray but not if your chosen area is cartes–de–visite portraits of ladies in riding habits or hussars or croquet players. And that’s just in the world of vintage photography. Even a schoolboy can afford to collect coins or stamps. As for restricting the collecting of visual culture to any particular social stratum, I don’t think the rich necessarily look after the items they collect more carefully than those collectors of more limited means. It’s true that the most serious collectors keep their collections under atmospherically controlled conditions but most adverse conditions that potentially damage a photograph can be avoided by taking a few sensible precautions.

Would you argue that by using the Victorian past, we could also aestheticize contemporary reality?

I live in Central London and the Victorian past is all around me every day, in the architecture and in the very infrastructure of the city, which is still essentially Victorian. But even if you’re in a prison cell in the middle of nowhere, you can use the past to aestheticize your reality. If you pin a postcard of a painting onto your wall, or even a page you’ve torn out of a magazine, you’ve changed the aesthetics of your reality.

What was the most peculiar thing you have witnessed while selling/acquiring photographs?

I’ve seen photographs that should have sold for thousands of pounds sell for only a few because they were badly catalogued in an auction and I’ve seen photographs which should only have sold for a few pounds sell for ten times what they were worth because two people with deep pockets and too much testosterone both wanted the same thing.

If this is not considered to be a private matter, is there any shaped pattern regarding your customers?

To be honest, because I deal mainly on the Internet, I don’t know all that much about the majority of my clients. I have a professional relationship with them but I don’t know enough about them to categorize them. But from the ones I do know on a more personal level, I’d say they don’t fit any pattern.

What does you sphere of interest include, other than collecting vintage photographs?

Well, there’s my MA in Victorian Studies that I’m working towards, and I lecture occasionally on cartes–de–visite. And last year I had an article on Camille Silvy published in History of Photography. Oh, we’re still in the nineteenth century, aren’t we? Well, back in the modern world, I took up Latin and Ballroom dancing about a year ago. I’m taking my first level exams in May. And I’m fairly obsessed with Mexico and Mexican culture, particularly the Day of the Dead.

And to conclude our discussion, do the Victorians continue living through the existence of their photographs?

Yes, definitely.

Artwork: Alba Studios :: Actor Giorgio Majeroni. 1899. Sydney, Australia

questions by Diana Daia

Full article here.



The following article was published in N-SPHERE March 2010 issue.


Name: bd Miller

Location: Los Angeles, CA.

Occupation: Artist, Father, Husband, Student… not necessarily in that order.

Definition of personal sphere: A two ring circus, one in a 100 year old house full of kids, animals, and my beautiful muse, the other in my mind… complete with calliope music.

Artwork in 4 words: Scantly Clad Circus Girls

What is inspirational for you: Silent movies, Universal monster movies, and all forms of unconventional beauty.

Currently favourite artists: Frida Kahlo, Egon Schiele, Jan Saudek.

Tools of trade: Archaic cameras and film. Predominately a Lynhof 4×5 and Polaroid T55 film. NO PHOTOSHOP!

Current obsessions: Finding a new process now that T55 is all but extinct… and scantly clad circus girls…

Personal temptation: Running away and joining the circus.

Artwork: Miss Torso


Full article here.



The following article was published in N-SPHERE March 2010 issue.


I remember the first garden, the stairs I felt protected and abandoned on by my own free will and the dim, regretful, fragile lights, obsolete guardians of an ancient wood aroma. It felt good in the twilight, secure, almost detached from the haunting past, only to begin anew.

I wish I could say I’m ready to take you in, comfort you and wipe away the treacherous tears of your puny contempt, but I am not. I do not want to be. I have seen your half faced hooded miracles and witness their aftermath. I wish I could say that I’m awake, you wish I would say that I’m awake because of you. But I am not. The howling of the slippery hours finds me numb and sleepy, wondering yet again “Why?” and “How?”. Limbs severed and chained to the ground by the small box I’m purposelessly wandering through, I guess you would happily take this guitar string and wrap it around my heart to keep it together and in place, while sliding alongside the chords of an unknown tool designed by some Good Samaritan. But sometimes it is not up to you, and maybe not even up to me. Focus, create a void around you, push everyone back, locked doors, barred windows, this is your playground for now. I wish I could say you are my angel, sent from high above, to deliver a fresh pair of vintage style wings. But all you bring are Japanese sandals, when I needed a katana instead.

I miss and desperately need my stairs and the dim, regretful, fragile lights, obsolete guardians of an ancient wood aroma.

by Bahak B

artwork by Vel Thora

Full article here.