Marit Beer’s Black and White Analog Photography Is Bound to Enthrall You (NSFW)

This is a syndicated blog post from the latest issue of Analog Magazine. This collectible coffee table book showcases many of the best new analog photographers out there, and we strongly recommend you pick one up. The text was originally published by Analog magazine. Issue #6. 2018 II, and is being reproduced with the permission of the author. All images © Marit Beer

Hello Marit, thank you for this interview. Can you please introduce yourself for us?

I live in Berlin, but my roots are in a woody and legendary region of Germany, surrounded by a devil’s wall, witches dancing in the mountains and a town that was very old and damaged when I was a child. I studied archaeology, art history and heritage conservation. Currently I am working as a freelance photo editor.

Can you talk a bit about your approach to photography? What are you most interested in capturing when taking pictures?

I look for the story in an image. It can be at its beginning, in the middle or at the end. Mostly the viewer gets to decide that instead of me. I want to disengage people, I photograph from their here and now and make them redefine themselves. It is like taking them by the hand, leading them into my world and then letting them go. The works are not assignments; nobody is paying for them, that is an important part. The pictures we make bear no obligation to anyone. Most people I photograph are friends or close acquaintances, almost all of them actively creative as well. Before pictures can even emerge there has to be an exchange of thought about all that is currently bothering us. My interest in photography is my interest in people and the subtext of conversations, ideally manifesting in a single picture in the end.

We have noticed that you have a penchant for dark stories, what attracts you about this?

My mother had to read bedtime stories to me because I was afraid of the dark. We lived in the periphery of the town, the forest was visible from my window. The dark was sometimes only torn by an animal’s call. At my grandparents I slept in a ground level room, which had not changed since the 1930s, with old, sturdy, tall furniture and a huge window towards the garden. The drapes were shaken by the wind and the moonlight made shadows on the walls. I made up stories in order not to get frightened.

My childhood was lined with stories, those by my grandparents in particular. They were in their early twenties when Germany ultimately discarded all culture and decency, their stories were gruesome and traumatic but all the while spiced with unconditional love and sincerity. Every time I went to visit them I took a look at their photo albums and browsed old books for children. Time had stopped in that place, there was no hot tap water and you bathed in an old zinc tub, the stove was heated by a woodfire, the attic was full of caverns and discoveries, and the toilet was outside, right by the spooky cellar which I did not like descending into it by night or by day.

As an adolescent I consumed books by Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker and almost all of Anne Rice’s novels. In my early Berlin days, I found an exquisite bookstore that is now called “Otherland”. They had fantastic narrations by German authors like Christian von Aster, Boris Koch and Eddie M. Angerhuber. These sinister stories were very fascinating to me and left me with a familiar feeling of childhood.

Do you have any specific references or sources of inspiration in mind when you create your work?

Anything that surrounds and touches me can inspire me. Simple things like the gauzy fabric of a scaffold, the sea colours, an odd story in the newspaper, music, our garden over the course of the seasons, evening sun in my room or findings like shells, bones or branches.

Who are some of your favourite contemporary photographers?

Does Sarah Moon still count as contemporary? Because she is an icon to me. The French photographer Thomas Devaux is notable; he combines photography with painting, creating ghostly characters. I also like the clear formal language of Swedish female photographers like Denise Grünstein and Julia Hetta and the enchantment of Martina Hoogland Ivanow. The images of Michael Ackerman and Artur Kowallick stir me up, scare and fascinate me.

 

Do you have any project in mind that could be a personal or professional challenge?

My friends and I are in the early stages of planning an exhibition. It will not be a regular exhibition with pictures on walls. We want to make them tangible instead and let them speak to the viewer. This is going to be rather exciting. I am doing animations with 35 mm film that tells a story in 36 frames.

Can you recommend us a photo book?

“Half Life” by Michael Ackerman.