I am happy to bring Berlin back to Berlin.
Berlin today: The future of Metropolis through the eyes of Stefano Corso
You might have heard of him already. Stefano Corso, a famous Italian photographer, originally from Rome, observes unusual and often surreal sceneries of various metropolitan cities like Berlin, Rome, Paris and New York. His projects have seen no lack of attention. Thousands of followers on Twitter and Facebook, cover publications in several Italian and international news outlets, teaching in workshops and schools and numerous awards and exhibitions.
He is not just an ordinary photographer; he is all about a unique and passionate style to interpret a reality of a society within various architectural structures. And most importantly he is all about feelings and moods. Once a lawyer and an engineer, the brilliant Italian photographer, currently living between Rome and Berlin, likes to exist behind the camera. He enthusiastically answers some of my questions about his life between the two capitals, photography and his personal exhibition “Berlin today: the future of Metropolis” to be open in the German capital city on the 14th of October. So let’s begin!
Do you remember the day when you first started taking pictures?
I was very young; I was playing around with my mom’s camera when I was 11 or so. I clearly remember one episode from my childhood: a family friend – a pilot who travelled a lot to Asian countries once before his trip to Japan asked me if I wanted a camera or a portable TV as a present. And guess what I asked for? A camera! (laughing – ed.)
How did you then become a professional photographer?
In 2005 I was on a trip in New York City and by chance I met in a bar a very famous American photojournalist Peter Turnley. He gave me his business card, I went to the hotel room, checked his website and remained very impressed by his amazing serious of pictures on Paris. Once I got back to Rome, I started taking pictures of my home city always having in mind his style of photography. I started putting my shots online and I know it is strange to say but I began developing the idea of becoming a professional photographer because of the Internet…I started getting a lot of great feedback from people online after seeing my pictures. When actually someone likes what you do, it encourages you to go ahead and develop your style further. In 2010 I left my job as an engineer and slowly opened a photography school in Rome, a studio … I am very happy with my life now.
You mention that it is essential for a photographer to have his own style. How would you characterize your style?
I actually think that I photograph myself. My style is to picture a little man in urban architecture. I am very cautious about privacy issues, so I never shoot people’s faces. I don’t want to do to people what people can do to me. So I develop this style of photography that tells a mood (movements, impressions, postures) of a human being without showing his faces. Every picture for me is an emotion of the moment or an emotion that comes from the past. Each image can be interpreted by the viewer with his memories and experiences, his sadness, and sorrows and maybe with just a smile.
Do you feel attached to your camera?
Not at all! I don’t care about the brad, I can even take pictures with iPhone, old cameras… The most important thing is how I see things and compose them in a frame to transmit the emotions and not the device itself.
October 14th at the Italian Cultural Institute in Berlin you will present a personal exhibition called “Berlin today: The future of Metropolis” and your personal interpretation of Fritz Lang’s famous movie Metropolis. Could you tell me how you came up with this original idea?
I have a lot of inspirations from my past, from books, songs and movies. The movie Metropolis by Fritz Lang was always one of my favourite movies… About three years ago in Berlin, I took a picture of a man who was doing some strange and incomprehensible acrobatics close to the Paul-Loebe-Haus, one side of the Reichstag. As soon as I saw the photo in the car, I remembered the man who moves his hands in the movie “Metropolis” by Fritz Lang.
Actually, I found Metropolis for the first time when I was 16 years old thanks to the musical video of Queen’s “Radio Gaga”. With a huge surprise to me I did find out that most of the original sequences taken from the Queen are the very ones that I used as inspiration for the exhibition.
What to expect from this exhibition?
Frankly speaking, I don’t think everyone knows the movie “Metropolis”, but I hope for those who know the film my exhibition will be a journey of rediscovery and for those who have not seen the movie yet – a way to take a closer look at Berlin’s history and its identity. I am very happy to bring Berlin back to Berlin.
There will be a book disposed at the exhibition; I hope to read some comments about the impressions people get from my pictures and the parallel to the movie.
Isn’t it a bit strange that you as Italian are rediscovering Berlin and not a German photographer?
For me Germany is exotic (laughing – ed.). I almost stopped doing projects in Rome; it is so boring for me. I know it too well. Probably it is the same with Berliners. I have a different view on the German capital city, I am discovering it day by day…
Let me ask you then why Germany? Where does this strong connection to Germany come from?
I don’t have a strong connection to Germany. I have a strong connection to Berlin. That is different! I grew up during the period of the Berlin Wall listening to the music of David Bowie, reading “Wir Kinder von Bahnhoff Zoo”… Berlin is still very dark, grey, always foggy, looks a bit like a city of spies, but I am fond of it. It is relaxing for me; I wanted a second home to recover from hectic Italian capital. It is a nightmare to stay here all year-long; I am spending more and more time in Berlin!
For me Berlin is not the most beautiful place in the world, but I love the atmosphere, I like to wake up and have silence around me, go by bike everywhere, spend time with my friends, and feel myself back in my twenties.
How is your German?
(Laughing – ed.) Unfortunately I do not have time to take course and studying a foreign language online is not the same thing. I make up words a lot, build sentences with the way I think is right. I have my German keywords that I try to link with news words and so I build my own German vocabulary that does not exist. For example, I love to eat smoked fish, for example, Räucherlachs (smoked salmon – ed) and I used to forget how to say it in German, so I simply would call it Krankenfish (sick fish – ed)… I am famous among my friends as a person who likes to eat Krankenfish!
What projects do you have in mind for the future?
I’m currently finishing a research project in search of traces of Red Army’s presence in East Germany started with my friend and colleague Dario-Jacopo Laganà. This year actually marks the twentieth anniversary of the departure of the last Soviet soldier from the territory of Germany. We are now, among other things, looking for funding to make a book and a traveling exhibition out of our project in 2015.
I also have another project in my mind that is once again linked to Berlin…I am inspired by the cabaret culture in Weimar Germany.
All images for this post are kindly provided by Stefano Corso. Check out the rest of his gorgeous photography on his personal website!