Sven Marquardt's analogue black-and-white photographs often seem inspired by paintings of early Italian Baroque painters like Caravaggio or Ribera, or by Spanish siglo de oro painters such as Velázquez, Murillo, and Zurbarán. Again and again the figures in the portraits seem to emerge from fields of deep black. The pronounced light-dark effects are not the result of the medium of photography, but a very conscious and skillful stylistic choice, though one to which the medium lends itself very well. With his clear outlines and hard shadows Marquardt creates very plastic effects, rendering the figures like sculptures. The stylistic proximity to the mentioned Baroque painters is also apparent in the careful arrangement of the portrayed subjects: these are no snapshots but the result of portrait session more akin to painting. They condense the personality of the sitter to his or her essence, illuminating telling details and omitting all that is not crucial. With all their undeniable theatricality in posture and stance they simultaneously convey an immediate presence in the people depicted, thus reconnecting the painterly approach to the medium of photography.
The people portrayed by Marquardt are not chosen randomly, but are carefully selected from the artists circle of friends, colleagues and acquaintances. From his very beginning as a photographer, Marquardt had always been interested in those not fitting in, the individualists, the not-streamlined, whether in Est Berlin of the 1980s, where he started his career, or in the reunified Berlin since 2000. Even at first view it is clear that these are people full of self-confidence and an almost gruff self-determination, heroes of their own life, not victims of their circumstances, capable of creating breathing space for freedom even in adverse conditions. Their bodies, postures and faces exhibit true individuality, not the consumption-based simulation of fashionable adverts (as expressed by the motto: buy our mass-produced products and follow these hip trends to prove your uniqueness). Marquard's photographs capture the singular essence of these individuals and at the same time transform them into icons of our time transcending the individual.
After Rudel (herd), his series of portraits of doormen, now the next series, resented here for the first time, with a similarly ironic titel, PACK, portraits of musicians from the international electro scene, people that Marquardt has been familiar with for may years through his work for the well-known Berlin club Berghain. Marquardt's own background with punk, the underground and artist's scenes, the milieus his photography has portrayed from its beginnings, reconnects back to the world of ecstatic-hedonistic nightly partying in the techno clubs of the metropolis, and also to a certain experience of life that always includes a trace of melancholy even in its ecstasy, resulting from the experience of profound historic changes and the knowledge of our mortality. An experience of life that brings us back full circle to the memento mori of the Baroque period. As is intrinsic in the medium of photography itself, we encounter the dialectics of the ephemeral moment and age-enduring form.
An audio-visual installation with a sound-loop mixed by Marcel Dettmann is presented in the basement.
Born in East Berlin in 1962, Sven Marquardt was a formative part of the emerging Punk, New Wave and artists' scenes of Berlin's Prenzlauer Berg from the mid 1980s. When the Berlin Wall came down, he took an out-time from photography and immersed himself in Berlin's newly developing club scene. Since the late 1990s, with his job as a doorman for the club Ostgut, he has been fascinated with the theme of 'night.' In 2004 he started working as a doorman for the Berghain, and from 2007 he has been a co-creator of the visual style of the label Ostgut Ton. In 2010 he published his first photography book, Zukünftig Vergangen, followed by Heiland and Wild Verschlossen (all published by Mitteldeutscher Verlag), and in 2014 his autobiography Die Nacht ist Leben (Ullstein Extra). From 2015 Marquardt has been traveling around the world with his images and projects, following numerous invitations by the German Goethe Institut and living and working in residences for magazines like Interview, Sang Bleu, and L'Uomo Vogue, as well as for fashion labels such as Hugo BOSS, Levi’s, ITEM m6, Baldessarini, and Liebeskind. Starting in 2015 he has been teaching as a lecturer at the OSTKREUZ School for Photography.