Next in our LCFMA18 Graduate Spotlight series, and ahead of this month’s exhibition at The Bargehouse, is MA Fashion Photography graduate Pascal Emmeran Huebner from the small German town of Rosenheim, near the Austrian border. His final body of images, which will be featured in the exhibition, is a backlash against the old definition of masculinity, still fighting for superiority in this age, nowhere is this more evident than in Donald Trump. We talk tough sex, inspirations and shadowing Turkina Faso in an in-depth interview about his work.
Tell us about your final project…
That’s actually a quite interesting story. My great-grandfather wrote a big work about Albrecht Dürrer’s three engravings, “Saint Jerome in His Study,” “Knight, Death and the Devil” and “Melancholia I,” but unfortunately he died before he could publish it. He interpreted those three images as a continuous cycle between harmony (we actually have everything we need), departure (we want more, we challenge our life) and regret (we regret the things we’ve done and longed for the return to harmony). When I heard about his theory, I was super excited. These three images from the early 16th century do not only reflect the mechanism of my own life, of the relationships to the women I loved, they are a universal formula. Just have a look at Germany and Austria over the last 70 years for example. They went from having regrets after World War II through peace movements and the foundation of a green party in the 70’s, then in the 80’s back to a growing popularity of right-wing parties such as the AFD in Germany or even worse, a right nationalist government in Austria. And obviously, this full cycle from regret to harmony to departure happened all around the world, peaking with Trump as the product of a male culture with power as its maxim.
The striving for power is not given by nature, it’s a cultural construct and origin of all the destruction of our environment and wars. Men are trapped in a predetermined tragedy, as their gender role requires a continuous prove of strength and the concealment of their real feelings to fulfil the picture of ‘manliness.’
Look at ‘rough sex’ becoming so popular as an example. It’s become a compromise between a man’s inner desire for intimacy and tenderness, it doesn’t give men the opportunity to open up about themselves to women, it portrays them without any vulnrabilites, most probably don’t even look their partner in the eyes. Here sex serves a man’s need for confirmation and admiration of his ‘manliness.’ We need to replace power with emotional autonomy as the maxim of our culture. This is super utopian. In a world of raw numbers and technology-fetishism, art needs to be the place where the discourse about utopia remains.
In Albrecht Dürrer’s third image, “Melencolia I,” you can see the sun rising on the horizon as the messenger of a new period of harmony. You will find this rising sun in many of my photographs. My work is all about the longing for the new period of harmony, of emotional autonomy, leaving the old male era behind. It’s about the end, it’s about the beginning, a new morning, a new start. An old potato which I found in the darkest places of my kitchen became the main character. The actual potato died, but out of its dead body, many new little potatoes grew. This project, “The Naked Soul” is not just one which originates from the deepness of my feelings, it’s also the proof that people don’t die, they just transform. The phenotype of my great-grandfather might have been his body long time ago. Even though this physical body died then, the meaning, the thing which makes a person a person transformed since then through three generations and found its new phenotype within my work.
What would be your top tips for new students…
When I started at LCF, I expected my work to be in a similar quality to established MA Fashion Photography alumni icons such as Turkina Faso, Clara Giaminardi or Nadia Lee Cohen from the first shoot, even though I came from a different background. And of course, those high expectations lead to big disappointment. But every time I failed, I got angry and shot again, tried to make it better and got angry and shot again and so on and so forth. Meanwhile, I realised that there will never be a point where I will be satisfied with my work 100%, so I’m a bit more relaxed about this. The most important thing is just that you always keep the fire burning and you work hard everyday to improve as long as it’s still healthy.
What made you chose LCF and London…
Coming from a country in which fashion plays a minor role, it was an important step to move to London and collaborate with artists who have the same passion for the subject as I have. Also, Course Leader Paul Bevan counts on his alumni as being the up-and-coming stars in the industry, and that feeling doesn’t come from nowhere.
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What were the highlights and biggest challenges of your course…
My whole MA was a highlight! I grew up near the Alps, spent my youth on fields, in forests, mountains, going to beer festivals which look similar to the set of Lord of the Rings. Now I’m sitting in a lesson next to a student discussing his last shoot with Naomi Campbell, or next to Cierra Skye on a train to a seaside-shoot. I managed to shoot for my favourite model agency, went to Paris, experienced a life I was just dreaming about only a year ago. But when all these overwhelming things start to become your everyday life, you start to appreciate the things you might haven’t seen before, such as the big influence of all your classmates, coming from different parts of the world and bringing their own beautiful photography styles and thoughts.
The most challenging part was actually moving the equipment on public transport, carrying more than my body weight divided into five bags from the Media Store in Shepherds Bush to a Banlieue in Paris. But sometimes I like to suffer!
What song or album are you currently listening to?
I really fancy Max Richter but listen to a lot of Phoria as well.
My biggest inspirations and muses are…
My biggest inspiration is love with all its pleasure and pain. My last relationship could have been a Shakespeare piece and saturated my creative practice for a long time. But also psychologist Arno Gruen with his outstanding theories on power, Albrecht Dürrer interpreted by my great-grandfather, and Turkina Faso who I’ve been assisting for a year now. What is so inspiring about her is not just her work, but her character impresses me a lot too.
What are your plans for life after your MA…
I’m working in a studio in Chelsea from January, in which I can continue my work on the weekends and try to get agency signed until 2020.
LCF is moving east. What do you think about the move…
I really love the spirit of our different sites but of course, it will be an amazing opportunity as collaborations and infrastructure will be just so much easier.
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