Interaction and communication. These are the most significant words Torsten Schumann associates with photography. We had the chance to meet him and the gallerist Eric Pawlitzky at the gallery Alles Mögliche, where we talked about photography, life and reality. It has been a great pleasure and I’m glad to share it with you.
What is reality? How do we think we perceive it all around and inside of us? Few certainties about it, one of which is that it’s unique: each of us sees the world in a different way, through more or less thick layers depending on everyone’s experience. By representing their own and others’ vision in a challenging, unconventional way, some of us try to find their path across these layers, create a bridge and open a dialogue, to which everyone is welcome to participate.
In Torsten Schumann’s case, interaction and communication are the most significant words he associates with photography; he further says “I find it fascinating how photography allows to show things that we “don’t see” and be much more than just a representative copy of a moment that belongs to the past“.
The Berlin-based photographer captures reality as a series of coincidental and tragicomic events, sometimes so absurd that you might wonder whether his photographs are actually showing reality or just a funny version of it. He is interested in the way people relate to each other and their surroundings (“What are they doing and why are they doing it?”).
By sharing his own perspective he aims to invite us to observe and question the world around us. Being born in East Germany and having experienced the disruptive change of a whole society system have influenced him not to accept things for normal and granted, but rather look for a further, undisclosed meaning.
While discovering the world through the lenses of his camera, he catches sight of details that are usually overlooked by lazy glances, and steadily captures images of ordinariness that hide a story behind. Maybe part of our story. Maybe part of everyone’s story, yet not really noticed before viewing his pictures.
Where does his inspiration come from? “Changing places always give me new inputs. However, also familiar places inspire me, since every place changes continuously according to people, building sites, weather, light and my own state of being. With different atmospheres I see different things in the same place. Also, the exchange with colleagues motivates me through the feeling of community. Most of all, the process of photographing itself inspires me, especially when i’m in the „flow“. With that I feed my inner squirrel.”
Meaningful in their normality, a little absurd fragments of life – you might find yourself smiling if you look at his photographs with unbiased eyes. At the same time you may feel a bittersweet symphony resounding in your head, reminding you the volatility of each moment you spend on earth.
Torsten doesn’t show off, he seems almost surprised by the impact of his pictures, on me in first place. He claims to have the capability of making himself invisible, which can truly be a superpower when it comes to photography.
Does he begin a project with a clear idea of how it will develop? Not really, according to his words: “I’m never on the streets with the specific goal of finding and photographing concrete situations and things. I leave most of it to chance. While i’m looking for motives I trust the combination of chance and intuition and let the impulses of my unconscious express themselves. During the more conscious process of choosing the pictures, I notice certain themes and patterns in my works. Later these findings flow more or less into the „unconscious photography“, and nurture the further process.”
In few months, the first book with a collection of his pictures will be published by Peperoni books. For someone who used to work as an engineer until lately – what an accomplishment!
I find it inspiring how he decided to leave something that didn’t make him feel completely fulfilled to focus his passion and his energies in doing what he is probably most good at and motivated about: being around with his camera, looking at the world with curious eyes and catching instants of inexorably pointless, yet still significant, reality.