Interview with Alex Harbich
Alex Harbich is a photo artist from Hamburg who uses his work to process social and personal issues in long-term projects. His photography is characterized by a minimalist and conceptual approach. The city is extremely ambivalent to him, which is why his series Simplicity treats the contrasts of urban space: Thematically arranged diptychs show a beauty that can only be found in this environment.
Through content and title, the work is then juxtaposed with a critical context. The photographs are created through a slow process of conscious vision in different cities and at different times. The pairs of pictures arranged out of it thus show an ambivalent portrait of the urban living space.
“…Sometimes, I stand ten minutes on a street corner and just breathe in the impression and atmosphere…”
GM: Dear Alex, thank you for taking the time. As always, let begin with a quick overview: Where are you from? Where are you? Where are you going?
I come from the Pfalz-area, which is in the west of Germany, I started taking pictures during my school years and then moved to Hamburg. There I work on conceptual projects, study photography and made a living as a photographer. I can well imagine that it will take me to Berlin at some point … or some other culturally rich place, depending on where my projects will bring me.
GM: How do you see the world when looking at it through your camera?
In everyday life and at work, I often lose myself in details. With photography, I live out my perfectionism. This is sometimes helpful and sometimes a barrier. The city seems to me as a place of over-stimulation, but that’s exactly what I like about it. Sometimes, I stand ten minutes on a street corner and just breathe in the impression and atmosphere.
music as an inspiration
GM: Then you’re standing there… and then happens what? How should we imagine your photographic process?
I save all my ideas, concepts or topics in a sketchbook. My projects are created by linking these elements. It can also be said that I am inspired by my surroundings.
GM: What influenced you the most in your work?
Perhaps the biggest influence on my work has been music. I would be glad if someone perceives my art as visual music …
GM: Is there anything that inspires you in specific? Do you have role models, for example? Do you have role models, for example?
Of course I have role models! I really like the work of Andreas Gursky, Siegfried Hansen and Alexey Titarenko. These are personalities who have been shaping my work for a long time.
GM: which one of your pictures is your favorite shot and why?
Honestly, I don’t even know if I have something like that. My work is driven by the constant dissatisfaction with myself and I often sit in front of my photographs for so long that I lose a neutral view towards it. Then I perceive my work differently, there is no such thing as “favorite pictures” anymore.
communicating in pictures
GM: I understand this well. You have a series called “Simplicity” that I personally like the most. What does minimal photography mean to you?
A lot. I came to photography through music, and the equivalent of a good, instrumental composition is minimal photography for me. I like it because it shows you how good your eye cooperates with abstract composition. The photo itself is still a challenge. When I think about the aesthetics of a dirty house wall for two hours, I can think of no better way to live my perfectionism.
GM: If we were to tell the guests in our gallery something about you, what would it be? For example, is there something you want to communicate with your work?
Yes. Each of my projects is based on a context. In the end it’s going to be beyond expressing myself. There where times where I felt poorly understood and sometimes I therefore prefer to communicate in pictures. The city, for example, is a permanent love-hate relationship for me; this internal discourse forms the basis for the content of the Simplicity series.
GM: Alright! Thank you for these insights. I wish you continued success with your work.