To Berlin, my Beloved.

thank you.

 

for lakes to console me

streets to walk me

thoughts to enlighten me

trees to shelter me

skies to embrace me

friends to love me

and music to cast light on the shadows of my soul.

 

I leave you gratefully.

 

North winds whistle my farewells

the swallows ascend

darkness descends

and nostalgia nags, already, at my bones.

 

True goodbyes… there are no such thing.

For we will meet again, my love,

in the promise of the Spring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Absence and Refuge

I took a little break, because, to be honest, I have lacked inspiration.

Perhaps it’s the change of season here in almost wintery Berlin, or perhaps my mind is waffling on so much that I didn’t have the energy to update and write about it with my every pulse (or my heart and soul are going into my new editorial job).

Though I have taken some sort of spiritual refuge in the parks before the leaves of orange and gold wither into the ground, only to be buried beneath the ice that’s to come.

Oh Berlin, even in your autumn melancholy your leaves sing to me with tales of the summer of sun they’ve had, their veins disintegrating into the earth in maroon gratitude.

Clouds cast their spell and hush away blue skies. Winter beckons, it’s their territory now. No more time for the folly of lovers in lakes, or family picnics showering the grass fields, or beggars reflecting sunlight off coins of sympathy.

I took long walks in Hasenheide and Tempelhof. Lungs filled with fresh air and the rhythm of my feet at the mercy or generosity of the sky’s mood.

One evening the sun screamed its goodbyes in hues of fuchsia. The next, it sank in a sallow haze, weary from the threats of nightfall with only twilight to buffer its defeat.

10 things you can learn from Roger Ballen

Mimicry, Roger Ballen

I fink he’s freeky, but I like him a lot. 

 

It’s not often that you get to go to Paris, in the fall, for a workshop with one of the most reknown art photographers in the world, who shares with you everything about his work and  creative thought and who will crit yours amongst an intimate group of nine other photographers.

Roger Ballen, a.k.a one of Rombles favourite and most inspiring people of all time, is an American photographer who moved to Joburg in the 70s to work as a Geologist. (I know, how random, gives hope to all those in normal jobs out there that perhaps one day your side passions will turn, KABOOM! into a work of art.)

He was born in New York, to parents who were both involved in the photography world: his mom worked for the Magnum photography agency (one of the oldest, most established and elite photojournalism societies who represented the works of Henri Cartier-Bresson), so he has been photographing on black and white film since he was 16.

While working as a Geologist, he began documenting the secluded mining towns in South Africa where the interiors and the people he encountered in them lead him to a body of work that isn’t only social critique, but also a unique engagement with metaphors of the human psyche within his images.

I told a friend I was going to his work shop to which she responded: “Daai shit’s evil. And weird.” And yes it is strange, but it’s a fascinating, real, intricate and metaphorical.

My appreciation for fine art photography has deepened three fold. The easier and stickier the images are, the harder they are to create. And believe you me, we were given a couple assignments that tested the myth that “anyone can scramble together some freakies and random shit and make “art”, is utter bullwipe.

The people in the images are what I would say are the archetypal social outcasts, those gems who are often left on the periphery of society. His portrait series found in one of his first books Platteland shatter the stereotype of the white man in South Africa, pre-1994: the supreme, white, well-off racist. The portraits are those of the mining folk, the farmers, the poor whites who lived in the desolate and vast farmlands of South Africa.

At the time he told us of how unpopular the series became: both black and white societies rejected him; in our workshop we watched this clip created by the Southbank Show ITV London at the height of his controversy in the international media: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0o3TwZ6iE8.

It is also a window into Ballen’s interest in sociology and the politics of being South African at the time of Apartheid.

Currently he has finished a series, The Asylum of the Birds – a crazy work of motifs, headless things, dark creatures. I just love the name, ah, the Asylum of the Birds – it’s creepy beautiful and beckons you to question your own meaning of freedom.

Why do I love his work so much? Because it is irresistably dark, foreboding and unforgettable.

And so in lieu of the foreword to his new book: “This is dedicated to those who live on the edge, who stare into the abyss, who find light in darkness. “

Below is a gallery of some of my hand-picked, Best of Ballen:

 

[new_royalslider id="4"]

And then a few lessons and tips you can learn about fine art photography from Roger Ballen:

 

1. You didn’t have to go to art school to become a great artist. 

He didn’t. He is a trained Geologist. I asked him how he supported himself as an artist starting out, he said he didn’t think of himself as an artist at all, he was just doing what he loved: photographing people and scenarios he found interesting. In fact, he didn’t sell a single photograph until he was 50! Ballen’s career as a geologist took him to all forlorn parts of the country where he found his wonderfully forgotten subjects.

 

2. Sexy and Pretty may sell commercially, but the art world accepts and appreciates the freaks, the outcasts, and the bizarre with open arms. 

Look at his photos, there are no stereotypical beauties in any of his work. There are cave-like squats, dungeon-y settings, forgotten mining towns, abandoned houses, weirdos galore. He doesn’t photograph artistically erotic nude women or crass private part shots a la Terry Richardson.

 

3. Black and White Film photography makes your eye more atune to tones, textures. Film is a built in curation of your image before it happens. 

Roger mentioned a couple of times that he only works in black and white film. Colour ain’t his thang. He said colour ameliorates and distracts from the tones of a picture – they hide the weak spots in composition and form with colourful distraction. Shooting with film also makes you much more careful about the shot you take. His assistant mentioned, when it comes to his fine art photography, he won’t even pick up the camera before he has some sort of concept.

 

4. Your way with people can make or break your portraits. 

Ballen has a way with people, he is soft-spoken, gentle, kind and can talk to anyone at their level and taking into account their view of the world. He has longstanding friendships with all of his subjects that override class, socio-economic circumstance and education. Marguerite, his assistant, mentioned how they would do anything for him.

 

5. Great photographs aren’t just about content: they’re also about form, lighting and concept. 

Ballen often spoke about “finishing the picture”. Creating an image that was strong enough that it didn’t need an explanation, a caption. Photography is a visual language, after all: “the camera has no ears.” Yes, the person in the image (usually referred to as ‘the content’) is important, but composition, lighting and the concept are what makes a picture complete, it creates the story free of words. Form refers to the composition, where the person stands within the picture, what else is in the picture. There is no room for deadspace in a photo – make sure the empty spaces in a photograph either serve a conceptual purpose or contain something that links back to the subject. The person can’t merely be “placed” in a picture, he/she has to be “linked” to the story of the picture. Lighting – is it flash, is it natural light, are there shadows to be had, where are the whites in the picture (because these are naturally where the human eye is lead to first). Concept – why are you taking the picture, what are you wanting to show (consciously or subconsciously)? Are there props to be used, are there locations that complete the person’s aura?

 

6. Props, props, props 

Most of his early works, such as Platteland and Dorps were about documentary and photojournalism. He saw a man, he photographed him. There were no props involved, other than those that already lay in the subject’s home. Later on, with the release of his book, The Shadow Chamber  you can see Ballen’s careful and creative use of props. The toy dinosaur, the African masks, the wires from the walls, the rats, the chickens (yes, there are many animals that play their part as props in his dark imagery). One of our exercises of the workshop was to spend a morning trawling the bric-a-brac shops of Paris to find props that we would use to inspire a concept or idea for a still life shoot of our own. But it isn’t enough to have some randomly weird prop in your picture – it has to link to the subject in some way or another, it has to complete the picture, there has to be a cohesive, clear and visible relationship between the subject, the prop and the background (the so-called stage of the person you are photographing).

 

7. Location, Location

I was surprised to hear that for Roger, location seemed to come before the subject. He went on and on about how he created an entire series inspired by a place. You can see this again, in his books, the Shadow Chamber and The Boarding House that an entire world of darkness comes to life in his careful selection of the place: the abandoned warehouse, which, with it, brought to him all the most fascinating subjects we could dream of. The morbid place inspired him to create his series of demon-like chalk drawings, which serve as the backdrop to his human theatre.

 

8. Great photography is a lifestyle. 

It doesn’t happen overnight, it takes years and years of learning, doing and practice, everyday. He says even the most fantastic photographers will only ever get 50-60 “bulls-eye” shots in their lifetime, if they’re lucky. “I am learning everyday still, to this day.”

 

9. If you want to be a fine art photographer, make prints. 

Always bring actual prints of your work to an agency or gallery, it has something (no, it’s not just him being old-school) that a computer screen can never conceal or manipulate.

 

10. If you want to be taken seriously as a photographer, create a cohesive series of photographs, exhibit them, and make a book of them. 

It’s no use having a mish mash of this that and the other if they are all a higgeldy-piggeldy mess of what you can scrape together. Rather take fewer photographs, but plan them out nicely with an idea, that will grow as you begin with your project. For example: his Platteland book is a series of portraits of people in the so-called Platteland (countryside) of South Africa, shot in the same style, with the same film and edited in the same way.

 

11. Bonus tip: Get a famous band or musician to work with!  

Roger Ballen is a long-time friend of Die Antwoord with whom he collaborated for their “I Fink U Freeky” video, which got over 35 million views and acted as a platform for his work worldwide. As he noted: “For every one person interested in Fine Art Photography, there are 10,000 interested in music.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paris Hiatus

I’m in Paris for the next few days for a fine art photography workshop with one of my favourite photographers of all time, Roger Ballen.

Look him up. His work will shake you and the images have an eery way of sticking to your psyche.

These are photos, taken with my phone, of Paris in the inbetween moments.

 

20130912-085117.jpg

 

20130912-085306.jpg

 

20130912-085543.jpg

My lovely friend, Benoit.

20130912-085702.jpg

 

20130912-085749.jpg

20130918-212849.jpg

 

20130918-213146.jpg

Roger Ballen in the artist squat, Le Bloc in Paris.

20130918-213530.jpg

The Cellar of the Artist squat, Le Bloc, Paris.

20130918-213601.jpg

The ugly/charming Soviet style church outside Le Bloc.

20130918-213616.jpg

The not-so-famous picture spot of Paris from the Park Bellevue.

20130918-213642.jpg

Enlightened: Urban Poetry by Robert Montgomery

Ah the blessed beauty of being human and imperfect are the voices in our heads.

No, you can’t quiet them, or tell them to shush, perhaps, at best, you can hush them down to whispers.

Until you see these poems by installation artist, Robert Montgomery that will light up your own subconcious qualms so that you can smile quietly to yourself as you walk in the night, knowing someone else, too, feels the beauty and melancholy of the human condition. And expresses it so beautifully with words to make happy light of your loneliness.

 

[new_royalslider id="1"]

 

The Urban Cowboy

I walk the the long vast road that is Warschauer strasse all the time, often with or without my camera but when I meet dudes like this I’m always thrilled to have brought it with.

I have seen Yozeph before, hustling, hastling people in Kreuzberg for money for the 3 Euro per night hostel place he claims to stay in, despite having a really cool smart phone in his backpocket and a blingin’ bicycle.

He told me that he is originally from South Africa (from Joburg) and that he moved here after he married a woman from Berlin, named Josephine, who he told me, was brutally raped and murdered in Tiergarten (a large park in Berlin’s centre).

I wasn’t sure I believed him, so he ensured me that it was a case of such uproar that it was all over the German media. But then he told me he was on his way for the night and that I should email him this photo and gave me a Russian server-based email address (something .ru) because “the Americans and their internet domination cannot be trusted.”

I don’t know what your real story is cowboy man, so here’s my take of you:

The streets

keep me company

the night is my only companion

shrapnel clinks in my back-pocket

maybe I should get a job.

 

by Romy Maxime

All my Imaginary Friends

I was walking through the park in Kreuzberg, am Gleisdreieck carrying the wardrobe and lighting equipment as I was working as an assistant for Berlin-based fashion photographer Tobias Wirth. And there, alone, was a little boy playing.

Oh the nostalgia for childhood that overwhelmed me for that little moment. Days where you could play in the sand for hours and be endlessly entertained by games that would bore your adult self to tears.

Not sure if this boy had any friends, but all he seemed to need was the trees and the sand and the sky to keep him company.

 

by Romy Maxime

 

 

The Golden Ice Queen, Berlin.

I know that in the picture below, our friend and singer Merveilles seems to be that ice queen b!tch-like Nefertiti, but she is the lovely Maiden Meryan as she calls herself.

Besides being a woman of all auras with a great sense of humour she has a beautiful moody voice that suits the name of our friend and producer Lenny’s label, Musk. Lenny and Merveille’s EP you can listen to and download here: https://soundcloud.com/muskmuskmusk/musk-for-you-feat-merveille

Merveilles reminds me of Cleopatra, with ebony skin of North African nostalgia and the face of an angel gone sullen. Maid Meryan and her milk baths and her moody voice. I’d imagine a queen of Nollywood (Nigerian Hollywood) taking her for tea, and complimenting her on her fine regalia and Western lace vests.

 

by Romy Maxime

 

The Unexpected

And here he was: a man selling the Street magazine in Zurich, the city of abundance, great salaries, bankers and retirees. He seemed foreign to me, but he told me he was born and raised here in Switzerland.

My mind wandered off into all corners thinking he perhaps came from Crete in search of snow and a better paycheck, only to find himself on the streets because rents were as high as the quality of Lindt chocolate and he couldn’t bear not being able to dive into the Sea.

 

by Romy Maxime

 

 

And then today on my lunch break  in Berlin, this man was holding this on his cigarette break, walking through the streets like it ain’t no thang.

 

by Romy Maxime

 

 

Lost in a Moment – with Irma Cirikovic

My lovely peach of a girlfriend we know as Irmi Riko happens to be a  splendid dream catcher. I lived with her in a quaint little flat overlooking Goerlitzer Park in Berlin for some months where we went from roommates to soul sistas.

 

My girl Irma.

Irma Cirikovic - my own Miss Sarajevo

 

I’m often times too loud, and silly, but Irmi, she’s dignity and class defined which comes through in everything from her daily tasks to her design and photography.

She’s my miss, Miss Sarajevo.

Irmi is originally from Bosnia, grew up in Luxembourg and has been living in Berlin as a filmmaker and photographer. Check out her work: here.

Here are a selection of her photographs commissioned for Watergate and Innervisions‘ openair festival in Berlin, Lost in a Moment.

 

by Irma Cirikovic

 

 

Frank Wiedemann of Ame and the Howling.

 

by Irma Cirikovic

 

Lost in a Moment.

 

by Irma Cirikovic

 

Ry Cuming of The Howling.

 

by Irma Cirikovic

 

Dixon of Innervisions.

 

by Irma Cirikovic

 

Howling Celebrations & goodbyes: Jens Kuross and Ry Cuming

 

by Irma Cirikovic

 

Night calls.

 

 

 

Mighty Oaks, you fine Folks

 

One fine day in one of my favourite places in all of Berlin, is Treptower Park I met these three gents.

In case you were wondering, yes they are in a band, in case the long hair sunglasses and “chilledz my vibe” composure wasn’t enough of a giveaway.

I present: Mighty Oaks.

Ian Hooper (middle dude) is the lead singer (who’d have guessed, he’s like a goodlooking singing Moses), Claudio (the Italian romantic) is on the far left, and then there’s the biscuit-bevok Brit, Craig on the right.

Ian hails from the beautiful Pacific Northwest in the USA, a place where he says the beauty will blow anyone away: he talked of the Puget Sound, a vast body of water just under Canada and little wooded islands and of his father who is into Celtic music and how his mother was in Academia. He also seems to be more of the yappy diggedy dawg of the three. As Craig explained: Ian suggests, Claudio disagrees, and he compromises.

The weirdest thing they have witnessed in Berlin so far?

“An old woman taking a dump, on the street, right into a box. At least it was in a box though.” HAHAHA GROSS.

I have a more in depth interview coming out on Noisey and Vice Germany soon, so stay tuned for that.

In the meantime I urge you to take a listen to their awesome sounds on their soundcloud page. You can hear the valleys, the guitars, the down to earth soul and flair of the band that so distunguishes itself in Berlin, because it’s NOT electro, but rather minimal chic folk music infused with the flavours of three country souls that found themselves in Berlin.

 

by Romy Maxime

 

 

 

Quiet in the Crowd, London.

 

His name (in my mind) is Wilfred and he’s reading about the latest deals on grill-ware. His forte is steak and he dreams of opening a steak roll restaurant in Hackney.

“Quiet floating steaks in my mind, it smells like people’s exhaustion in here. And so I will read until I can get home to my grill.”

 

by Romy Maxime

The French Artist, Weserstrasse Berlin.

His name is Eymard Judicael and he gave me a flyer for an exhibition this coming Saturday, the 24th of August called 5. Internationale Kunstausstellung at Stockholmer Strasse 4. Berlin 13 359.

He wouldn’t tell me what kind of art he was exhibiting so I will take a guess:

I could imagine he makes sculptures of tantric yoga and adds a line from a French romance poem to each as a caption.

There was something weary in those eyes. Perhaps too many cigarettes and late night exhibition qualms.

 

 

by Romy Maxime

 

 

Aeroba Runway x Isabel Marant

My lovely friend Julia Kaeufler is a yoga fundi who spends most of her days in the sun and the regal Arab life in Beirut, Lebanon and spends her summers visiting family and friends in Berlin. She runs her own yoga studio – you can sign up for her classes and follow her updates on her Facebook page here

 

What I love about her is she is endlessly classy, quiet and unaware of her beauty and graceful stature whether doing yoga or out and about in her favourite pair of Isabel Marant shoes. She is a mother of two beautiful children and used to live in Malibu California until the shores of home came calling.

 

Yes, we did take the standard Yoga style pictures of all the different positions (I have no fucking clue what they are called, I am not a Yoga bunny in the slightest), which is why a friend of ours assisted the shoot instructing her to do downward dog and the child position and all things that remind me of terms I’d like to hear in the Flintstones.

 

Urban yoga seemed a fitting theme so we took Julia outside to the former airport grounds of Tempelhof.

 

by Romy Maxime

 

Prep: Julia and Julia take on the runway.

 

by Romy Maxime

 

 

by Romy Maxime

 

 

by Romy Maxime

 

Beirut to Berlin Skies: Yoga with Jules

by Romy Maxime

 

 

by Romy Maxime

 

 

 

by Romy Maxime

 

 

 

Raw Ry – A glimpse into the ethereal world of RY X

On my second night back in Berlin I went to a dinner with one of my nearest and dearest, Irmi and met Ry. I had heard his song, ja it was howlin’ hahha, we had some German sausages on a balcony and talked about how much we loved Indonesia, how our beach and outdoor cultures are one and the same (I’m from Cape Town, he’s from a place in Oz near Byron Bay) and why he fucks off out of Berlin in the winter (like I like to do as well!)

I present, Ry Eden Cuming. He’s furry, as you can see below, and a soulful surfer squirrel with a beard and a penchant for yoga and peace. He’s a vibe, ja, and of course he can sing. And if you haven’t been living under a musical rock, you will have heard one of his most amazing collaborations with Frank Wiedemann: here

My current favourite is his solo single “Berlin”.

I joke about what drives Ry: babes rolling over him and touching his face in every one of his videos hahha. JOKEROO.

Here’s raw Ry –  down to earth, a man of the sea and photography and all things simple and great. And he’s a pleasure to photograph, relaxed and the camera digs him too.

I wrote this piece originally and exclusively for Vice Magazine and Noisey (their online music news portal) and so if you are a German speaker feel free to read it: here.  For most of my friends and readers who are English, I have translated the interview below.

 

by Romy Maxime

 

The most inspiring thing you’ve been told, read or sensed?

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, written by Sogyal Rinpoche.

 

Have you ever taken prescription drugs to cope?

No, I don’t agree with that whole industry. I think we work through things in understanding our context, humility and through consciousness. Everything’s passing, we have to be able to communicate.

 

Biggest Vice?

Music, the Sea, Sensuality, Sexuality…

 

Virtue?

Honesty, but that took me a while to get to this point, as I had to get comfortable with being honest with myself, and then naturally to others.

Love.

 

Why Music?

Why anything? I don’t know if we have choices but ever since I was young, it’s always been with me.

 

Are your parents creatively inclined?

So much. My mom is a yoga instructor and so much an artist in a way, and my father is a man of the sea, a poet, so I guess it’s in the blood.

My mom’s a warrior, a descendent of the Maori (ancient Tribe from New Zealand) and I don’t just see her as my mother anymore, but a mother to the community, like an elder.

 

Have you ever had a major crisis and how do you cope?

Meditate. Have I had a crisis? We’ve all had crises, we all have it to some degree, and it depends how much we let it compound in our mind.

 

by Romy Maxime

 

Words to live by?

It changes all the time, some days one thing resonates, another day it’s something else. My mom taught me a sort of mantra, when I was a kid, and I say it to myself when I’m in trouble, because I seem to get myself into all sorts of trouble…Om mane padme hum. No it doesn’t mean anything, it’s a meditation.

 

Best and Worst of your Hometown (seaside town of Angourie, Australia)

Best – it’s a paradise of natural beauty, the sea, and the beach.

Worst- a population of 200 people, which is also the best and worst part of it haha.

 

Are you religious?

No, I don’t believe in organized religion, I’m very spiritual.

 

Best places you ever lived, visited, and why?

Byron Bay, it’s where my heart is. Indonesia, Berlin, LA.

 

Best compliment you ever got:

Through music, people really open up to you and feel free to share things they normally wouldn’t – in a show recently in London someone told me I was an angel.

 

Greatest love so far:

Isn’t the greatest love always the current love? Unicorns – those girls, those rare ones, their aren’t many of them around.

 

Anything you are reading at the moment?

Tantric Yoga

 

You mentioned in our conversation that Mercury is in retrograde. You believe in astrology?

I don’t read horoscopes, but how can the stars not influence us? I mean I’m a fucking animal when it’s full moon. If the moon pulls the tides around the globe, how can the planets not influence us?

 

When did you first realize the meaning of true human loss?

I think I really understood it more deeply when my parents had a really visceral fucked up separation, I think that’s when I truly felt it on a more fundamental level, I was eleven then, and you lose a father figure, and what you thought was forever.

You have to learn to let go of shit, it won’t get you very far, and it’s all about being present and the acceptance of impermanence.

It’s not loss if you let it go.

 

Time-travel? Where would you go and when?

I honestly don’t know. I’m having a pretty rad time now. We have this beautiful crazy stuff now, we have freedom of speech, freedom of behaviour, freedom of heart, and we have this crazy Internet and manage to still connect as human beings. Self-publishing, self-creation is more available than ever, you can find money (Crowd funding platforms etc), it’s becoming more egalitarian. We just have to shift power out of the political and corporate stuff and get it back into the human context and creative expression.

 

What you do when you’re not playing music?

Yoga, Photography, Surfing.

If I wasn’t in music, I would be more into photography, I have thousands of photos and I shoot 35mm analogue but don’t have time for it right now.

 

Who or what inspires you?

Jeff Buckley. Now it’s the rad people I meet in my everyday life, characters of my own personal life.

 

Favourite Artists?

Eliot Lee Hazel (LA based fine art photographer), he’s a friend of mine and I think knowing people and their personal context guilds their art even more so.

 

Strangest encounter with a fan?

Oh had many weird things. It’s really beautiful, people get moved and open up and give you something they haven’t given anyone else…like special ornaments from their life, childhood, crystals and things, and photos. Photos are weird; I don’t really know what to do with the photos.

(I joked, like what gift? Their virginity hahah: Ry: No I really don’t take advantage of that. )

 

Anything you really regret?

Everything gets you to where you are now, no? You don’t know a positive experience until you’ve had some fucked up ones. I didn’t know at the time, things I regret, I knew better, but I did it anyway. It’s easier to look back in the past, not to swim in it.

 

What would you tell your 18-year-old self?

Don’t follow commercial bullshit, follow your heart and make art, don’t get caught up in the major labels and major bullshit.

 

by Romy Maxime

 

Did people ever discourage from going into the arts

They’re always someone, so don’t listen to them, I was lucky my parents were supportive.

 

If you had to give up one of your senses, which one, and why?

I would say smell, it’s the least, but guess it’s linked to taste and I love food! I couldn’t lose sight, hearing or touch – I’m a really sensual kinesthetic kind of person so those are really important to me.

 

What is your greatest mystery regarding women?

I tend to know women pretty well, I mean women are more open and I really love and appreciate that, at the same time they can be fucking crazy, they’re ethereal creatures, Goddesses.

 

Finish the sentence: Love is…

Everything.

The Duchess

I’m in Zurich right now for some meetings with an Swiss-American company to do some of their writing and on my lunch break I popped out to a little vintage shop where I found this most grand dame trying on a necklace. I don’t know her name, but I could imagine she moved her from Paris twenty years ago to get away from the noise and bustle of the French capital to be with her banker husband Pierre. On the weekends they drive up to Interlaken to visit her grandson who is a skydiving instructor.

 

by Romy Maxime

Out of the Blue

I was waiting for the train and this lovely was checking out my shoes (neon green chucks) and I was blinded by the sea of blue. She is actually from Italy, and works as a dishwasher in Berlin (no jokes, looks are deceiving – I thought she would be a stylist, hairdresser or performance artist).

In my world, I call her Veronica. In her free time she paints nude models, has had an long-time love affair with the work of Marina Abramović and is a performance artist in Berlin. She makes money on the side as a colour specialist in the make up section of a craft market.

Why does she dye her hair blue?

“Because all I do, is sing the blues.”

 

by Romy Maxime

Suns of Thyme – Echoes of Berlin

I met up with these boys, the kind that when I saw them walking from the Ubahn I knew they must be painters, or songwriters, or people whose minds contemplate as lengthly as their locks grow. These are the boys from Suns of Thyme in Berlin. If I describe their music to you I would say it is something between indie melancholy meets shoe gaze.

I love track 5: The years we got are not enough. Listen to their new album : Fortune, Shelter, Love and Cure and follow their live updates here.

They’re like characters from a film – the misfits of each of their respective German towns coming to Berlin to seek refuge in a place of creative freedom. Here below, the “lost boys” in the wendy house of a Berlin Summer.

 

by Romy Maxime

 

by Romy Maxime

 

by Romy Maxime

Jascha, Berlin 2013.

 

by Romy Maxime

Tobias.

And then I did what any normal girl would do: I forced the Suns of THYME to stand in a HERB garden in a random garden in Neukoelln. They cringed, I laughed and now we have a perfect portrait for submission to awkward-band-photos.com haha!

 

by Romy Maxime

A Berlin Childhood

by Romy Maxime

My lovely friend Ayeh came to Berlin, and on her way to meet me for a beer on the river, she took this picture on the Ubahn.

In ten years from now, this little boy I’d like to call Max will be backpacking through Peru, with little or no memory of this little moment.

I wish for all childhood moments to be as free as this, naked, curious and fleeting, like the train ride.

Moonlight Sonata

by Romy Maxime

The Irish flower and the night, Berlin 2013.
“To know her, was to love her. She was to have, but not to hold.”

by Romy Maxime

Lansky the Real, Berlin 2013.

I see Stolichnaya dreams and late nights of Cubase delirium. Make time for love and sleep, for love affairs with songs will always remain unrequited.

by Romy Maxime

The Curious Incident of the Reindeer in the Night, Berlin 2013.

 

by Romy Maxime

Maxime, Berlin 2013.

Don’t look back in anger, my love, you are not your mind. Return to find only the smiles of remembrance and the warmth of things once had, but never to be held again.

by Romy Maxime

Michael is his real name, and that will suffice for my story. He is originally from Lampedusa, Italy, where his mother Carlotta ran a seaside B n B, once a week she would do a soup kitchen for those African immigrants who came in boatloads from the African coast and sought temporary refuge before venturing into Europe. On the island of seaside beauty and teen evenings of boredom, he learnt to play the Mandolin, and joined the only band in town called Due.

 

by Romy Maxime

The Chef from Casablanca.
Take me to Casablanca, where the sun pounds down a million fires and the earth is blooded red and our dreams once lay drying out like salted leather on the horizon.

by Romy Maxime

I know not what I do.

by Romy Maxime

Basement Blues, Berlin 2013.

by Romy Maxime

Love in the Time of Videogames

This is Alex, he is a DJ and producer and he just wants to fall in love, is what he told me in his broken Romanian accent.

If this were a film still, he’d be Colby, a teenager who discovered video games too early and has since stayed inside passing his hours with Startrek reruns, Cubase, and nostalgia for Nintendo. Colby attended college in San Francisco for engineering, only to drop out and create an app for the (blackmarket) sale of organs for the neediest of patients, until his arrest two years later. His mom had been ill with kidney failure, and he testified in court claiming the coding and idea for the app was a “God-send”.

 

 

Night Encounters & Missed Connections

by Romy Maxime

 

The guy on the left recognized me because he is friends with the “Jesus” Norwegian skater I photographed a while back. He offered me a joint and said he was looking forward to seeing what story I made up around this little midnight meeting.
And so the story begins…

Alessandro is a skater and actor from Madrid but he said that the Royal family there and Spanish politics pisses him off, so he came to the city of “I don’t give a sh$%T about anything or anyone” (namely, Berlin). Here he works in a bar. The laughing lady is a girl he has secretly loved for ages, but he can’t say anything because the guy on his right is her long-term boyfriend, Magnus. In an ideal world, he would move to Lampedusa, skate down to the beach and be filmed as the star of  a reality TV show called “Tortillas a la playa”.

Riding the Night

by Romy Maxime

 

Any Berliner or city slicker will know, there is also some weird shit left discarded on the street. Perhaps this one was the universe telling someone to workout, who knows.

This Swede and Irish duo here were happily testing out their new find on the Skalitzer Street, then we chatted, and they walked me to the Ubahn station.

 

Warschauer Blues

On my way home from our friend Crystal’s farewell, I decided not to take the train, but to walk the good 3km home with my head filled with the sounds of summer and the faces of the night – the street musicians, the Turkish men in their boyish groups sipping tea and smoking Marlborough Reds.

I found my little soul Alice sitting amongst the musicians at their unofficial buskers after-party on the sidewalk of Warschauer Strasse. And after a hopscotch, a laugh and a half I was asking her about the most interesting people she had met that day and then she popped this little grin. Oh there is strength in those little eyes and that grin, oh how I like this little peach.

by Romy Maxime

 

Peter O’Blivion.
I was drawn in one late night by the sounds of his melancholic guitar riffs. When I next see him I will post his beautiful music…it’s sort of like an ambient late summer night dream. Strings were telling stories of long lost summer love, the nostalgia of an Irish winter, and pulsating the souls of all those entering and exiting Warschauer Strasse. I will post some of his ambient magic soon.

by Romy Maxime

 

Voegt, the gentle Punk.

by Romy Maxime

Maybe he ran away from home when he was 16, or his girlfriend is a hairdresser, or his favourite book is Kafka on the Shore, and despite being tall and lanky he likes mountain biking in Bavaria, South Germany. I don’t know, but that stare was a generous gift. I’d like to think we froze a part of his soul, there, on that very unsuspecting evening on Skalitzerstrasse.

The Tanzanian-German Beauty in Berlin.

by Romy Maxime

Doreen.

by Romy Maxime

Hush Darling, and take me home with you when the purple of the night falls and all that is left are embers of streetlight as sunrise awakes.

 

 

 

The Multi-Tasker

I was in Treptower park for a shoot with the Mighty Oaks, a three man indie folk rock band based in Berlin and found these two casual creatures on my way there.

The Russian multi-tasker: she was smoking, hoola-hooping and listening to music, what a VAAB.

by Romy Maxime

The freedom fighter: below is Maximilian, from Austria, who campaigns for the Cuvry Square in Kreuzberg to remain a “Freiraum”, an open public space for arts, creativity, amidst talk that it will be bought out for real estate development.

by Romy Maxime