Martin A. Völker
The artist Martin A. Völker was born in West Berlin in 1972. His fondest childhood and youth memories include lonely rambles through the Hansa Quarter and now demolished architectural icons of the pre-falling-of-the-wall era: the old Ku’damm-Eck and the Ku’damm-Karree. Always accompanied by his walkman and the sound of Depeche Mode and the New German Wave. Martin holds on to Berlin’s famous mixture of urban down-to-earthness, linguistic brashness, clever mother wit and endearing arrogance and cultivates it as a writer and as a photographer.
His writing career grew out of his studies in cultural studies, aesthetics and European ethnology at the Humboldt University in Berlin, followed by many years of academic teaching. As a publicist, he explores the dynamic relationship between high and low culture, with particular sympathy for writers who have been forgotten today and whose works he republishes. These cultural sediments fascinate him just as much as poorly lit backyards, side streets or shop windows that have gone blind, which can be discovered in his photographs. His pictures resonate with the Berlin mood of the writers Wilhelm Raabe and Hans Hyan, whom Martin has edited.
The ethnological gaze of the explorer returns in Martin A. Völker’s street photography: there he uses pictorial elements that normally disturb the perception of photographic reality: Smudges, scratches, cracks, tags, reflections, blindness. These found real appearances lead to the dissolution of the real in the street image and to the construction of the art image of the street. The surreal grows organically out of reality. For Martin A. Völker, art is not the counterpart of the real, but the medium that allows us to see and experience reality differently. The supposed disturbing factors can be understood as a transfer of the stylistic elements of industrial music of the late 70s and early 80s to photography: Environmental sounds, noise backdrops or tools as instruments give art back its documentary authenticity beyond the artificial. The city of Berlin, with all its fractures and distortions, is reassembled from the parts of a damaged reality: Disenchantment and enchantment at the same time.
Martin A. Völker lives and works in Berlin.
- 2022 #SpiritOfStBerlin, nüüd.berlin gallery
- 2020 O4 – a project by nüüd.berlin, group exhibition