In 2002, I had my first solo show of photos at a small independent art space in Hamburg’s Barmbek district belonging to the media production company
Back in the early 1980s, when I first moved to Hamburg, I shared a large flat on Steindamm, then as now a fairly grimy, but colourful and busy street in the red light district of St. Georg just behind the city's main station.
Exhibition card for Nur Hier
One feature of the street was a musty, old-school variety theatre called »Hansa Theater«, very much a tourist magnet for older generations of Germans delivered in coachloads from all over the country. It was way before the big musicals took over. The small, ornate theatre offered a stage for all the classic 39-Steps acts like the Memory Man, the Human Cannonball, jugglers, acrobats and even performing elephants. It was a here and now moment, blink and you'd miss it: in the fast-moving world of modern entertainment the Hansa Theater was soon to disappear. (In fact it has now been resurrected in a sanitised modern form – not remotely the same!) I took a photo as the setting sun was screaming down into the eyes of people teeming past the theatre entrance.
»Never on TV«, its sign proudly announced, »Only here!«. How true. That’s also how I felt about so many of the moments and places I have photographed, especially since at the time my photography was obstinately analogue and largely taken for colour slides. And like an unintended death wish, so much of the ordinary things that catch my eye and seem so self-evident, these photographs often prove to be the last record of their existence: so the exhibition was called Nur Hier – Only Here.