Hundreds&Thousands, 2006


Als Fotograf müsste man ja eigentlich immer in der Gegenwart leben – schließlich geht es mit Aufnahmen ja meist darum, den gegenwärtigen Moment einzufangen und als Foto für die Nachwelt zu konservieren. Sei es in der Mode-, Dokumentar- oder Werbefotografie. Mindestens genauso spannend ist es aber wohl, eben diese Aufnahmen noch Jahre später als Portal in frühere Zeiten und andere Welten nutzen zu können. Nur logisch also, dass sich immer mehr Fotografen retrospektive Ausstellungen zusammenstellen, die den Besuchern einen komprimierten Schnelldurchlauf ihres Schaffens präsentieren. Wie der britische Modefotograf Rankin, Co-Gründer von Dazed & Confused und dem AnOther Magazin, Initiator des Hunger Magazines und Spezialist wenn es darum geht, berühmte Persönlichkeiten wie David Bowie oder Kate Moss in bestechenden, meist sehr humorvollen Portraits abzulichten.

Die CWC Gallery in Berlin zeigt nun mit über 50 Arbeiten Rankins noch bis zum 1. April eine große Auswahl der visuellen Vergangenheit des gebürtigen Schotten und gewährt einen Blick auf die Welt durch seine Augen. Der ist mal spitzbübisch, mal klar und visionär, aber wohl immer nur ein halber Blick – scheint Rankin uns doch mit einem stetigen Augenzwinkern zu begegnen. Wir haben den Fotografen nach der Bedeutung von Humor, dem Wort “Ikone” und seiner Arbeit gefragt – der, die nun an den Wänden der CWC Gallery zu finden ist und der, die als Idee noch vor ihm liegt.

What is more important to you with your pictures – capturing reality or creating a dream world for the viewer?

A bit of both really, depending on the image I’m making. I love the fact that photography can create these incredible fantasies, but unlike film, photographs have this inherent conceit of reality that means that the viewers and especially critics imbue it with some responsibility of that reality! Like a moral clause and I think as a photographer you have to be aware of it and accept that responsibility.

You can have fun with it, but essentially you know somebody out there is going to take it seriously and very differently from what you may have meant. Which is very dangerous and you should never just shrug that off.

rankin ausstellung berlin interview material girl magazine
Gisele Sparkley II, 1998

You once described yourself as a show-off in an interview and your images are often said to be very humorous – how important is an entertaining aspect to your work?

When I first started taking photos I could have gone down the route of becoming an art photographer, that was what I was studying at the time. But I really didn’t see the point in communicating with a few thousand similarly minded people, who would be very easy to stimulate in that similarity. I wanted to reach a broader and (though I’ll get shot down for saying it), a less pretentious audience. It just felt what is the point of doing it, if you aren’t trying to change the world or reflect upon it in a way that might enlighten, entertain or seduce a wider audience. I know that sounds arrogant, but it really comes from the opposite!

Does that also relate to the your work persona?

I think it’s important that people separate my public image from my work. When I’m doing interviews and things like that I just end up being a bit of a clown or a twat! I can’t help myself, because it all just gets a little to affected for me. All of my ideas and humour are in the pictures. You don’t need my words to explain them and the way you read them, should be yours. All the rest is fluff!

You photographed a lot of celebrities over time, do you also use humour as a tool to connect with the people in front of your camera?

Yes 100%, at it relaxes what can feel very intrusive. I also just use how fascinated by people I am, what makes them tick. I love people and humanity above all else, especially politics and religion.

If you could compose your dream images with no restrictions whatsoever how would that picture look like?

Wow, great question. In the past it would probably have involved a lot of nudity. But you know what I don’t know, as I do love the reality factor that I was talking about before. I guess it would be a world photograph of everybody in it, one by one, all equal and democratic. That would be a pretty amazing picture or set of pictures!

rankin ausstellung berlin interview material girl magazine
Touch Your Toes, 1996

That kind of visionary thinking seems to be very present in your work. How does it make you feel when people call you an icon because of that? Who are your personal icons?

I feel privileged that I’m even on the map! It’s a beautiful thing to do what you love and for people to give you the time of day for it! I have too many icons to mention here, but I’m a massive fan boy and just love photographs. I could talk about other people ALL day!

Header Image: Hundreds&Thousands, 2006