Teenage Pantomime, 2002
Teenage Pantomime is a photo book that compiles pictures I had been taking of my sisters (and some friends) when we were all kids or teenagers. When I turned 14, I was given my first mirror reflex camera – a simple Pentax, but for me it was great. I started to spend all my pocket money on films (I could afford about one film a week) and take pictures of the people and things around me. We were living then in a Gründerjahre-Villa, with what real estate agents describe as a “park-like garden”. This little park became the setting of my first photo story, about the enchanted land of plants such as the magnolia. From there it was only a small step to stage stories with my sisters as actresses. Because my little sister Maike and I resemble each other, a lot of people mistake her for me and think that this is actually a book about my childhood, but I appear only three times – whenever there is a camera in the picture, in fact.
The Shouhou was based on Der Schuhu und die fliegende Prinzessin by Peter Hacks, but the other stories, with the exception of The Sad Clown, didn’t really have a script. When we talked about the pictures, we would say: the story of the sad clown, or the crazy princess; but essentially they were images that told their own stories, so when I made the book I decided to present them without much text.
The book ends with pictures I took of my sister Ulrike in a strange mummy-like wrap and red make-up. I first had the idea to make a book with my teenage photos when I was painting Invitation to a Voyage, Teil 4: Masken and suddenly remembered I had staged some very similar photos when I was about 18, somewhere in my parent’s home. Ulrike is the co-author of this book. She was the one who invented most of the costumes and knew about make-up, and we came up with a lot of ideas together. She also helped to make the selection for the book, which was published in 2002 thanks to the generosity and help of Charles Asprey.