Watching Football With Juergen Teller
This article was originally published by VICE Germany
Turns out that other than overexposed images of celebrities and giant Marc Jacobs shopping bags, Juergen Teller also loves football. His new book follows the photographer, his family and his students on a boozey, sausage-fuelled adventure through the summer of 2014, when Germany won the World Cup in Brazil.
Simply put, Siegerflieger is a combination of Teller's love of family, photography and football. However if you look at the images with a tiny bit of emotion, the series is basically a celebration of the bond between a father and his son – united not only by blood but also by their passion for the game. I caught up with Juergen at the opening of his book presentation at CFA in Berlin.
VICE: Hi Juergen, can you tell me a little about your new book?
Juergen Teller: The book is a collection of different phases from my energetic and exciting 2014. Its a very happy, mad and chaotic book. I wanted to make it very private. I wanted it to be a look into my own 2014 and very much about Germany.
Because I travel around the world, I don't have enough time for family and Germany. We ended up in the final of the World Cup and that was a very important thing for me to capture. I started teaching at Academie der Bildenden Künste in Nürnberg and I have 18 students that I work with and that was a big change. It's been amazing really what they give back, and what I can give them. When I go there, I stay with my mother and in the morning, she drives me to school.
Thats sweet! Does she pick you up as well?
No, I take a taxi back home. I really thought this was a good moment for me to do this. Eight years ago, I wouldn't have thought I was ready to teach and in ten years time maybe I'll be too old, so it felt like the right moment. I started exploring different locations and I also had the pleasure of using a digital camera, which is a new thing for me.
What is it that you like about using a digital camera?
I guess I felt a bit more free, because I didn't have to schlep around all the batteries and rolls of film. It doesn't cost anything so I started to play around. I went to my uncle's 80th birthday and just photographed it for pleasure. But with film I would have thought about it all too much.
What was holding you back in the first place?
I'm a creature of habit. I liked the way the camera looks, the way pictures did, it suited me and there was no reason to change. But I kind of got forced to change it because I got unsatisfied with the quality of paper. There were moments where it was difficult to get the films, the film stock changed and then the paper got thinner and thinner, until it got ridiculous.
I loved the pictures of you guys watching the matches. Photography can't trigger emotions the way football can.
It's ridiculous! But it's also so liberating. Life can be so hard and depressing and also so wonderful, but you have a moment where you forget everything around the world and you're just there watching that, and you have no control over it. You're just watching these guys chase around a football, and it feels fantastic.
I imagine watching football with your son is a completely different way of enjoying football.
Completely! There is this incredibly crazy, ridiculous bond you have with your son watching a game. It's so incredibly sweet and ridiculous and pathetic but also so bonding and fantastic. It was such a euphoric feeling when we won the World Cup and I wanted to keep up this madness by taking happy pictures. So I had to join the digital movement.
We also can see a lot of yourself in those photographs. Who's taking the pictures then?
Thats my assistant, Karen. I orchestrate it with the framing and the general idea and she shoots away. It would have cost me a fortune to photograph all of this. These have been edited down a lot, she really just shot, shot, shot, which suited me very well.
You're spending a lot of time on your personal projects at the moment, isn't that right?
Yes, but often when something just clicks it goes really fast, and other times it needs to build slowly. I mostly work on different projects at the same time – an editorial for a magazine here, a book project there, then an exhibition in Hong Kong... That's how it usually goes.
What's that I hear about you getting your first tattoo?
I've never really understood tattoos. I mean, it's your body – why would you wanna scar it? I don't mind other people's tattoos but I just never got it. Then on holiday this summer my son got one of those henna tattoos, so I thought fuck it I'm gonna get these four stars on my arm. And I thought it looked brilliant! I felt stronger, more macho. I was convinced that I'm gonna get a real one as soon as I went back to London. But i didn't, I still haven't got one.
Thank you, Juergen!
Siegerflieger is out now by Steidl