Seven Stories… Klaus Pichler
Photographer: Klaus Pichler
Based in: Vienna, Austria
This is a photo of my girlfriend in a hotel’s hallway in Odessa, Ukraine. We made a trip to the Ukraine three years ago and we stayed in this hotel for some nights. This was one of the hotels you can still find in Eastern Europe where the grandezza of the old days blends with the functionality and tastelessness of comunist days, resulting in a feeling which is comparable to a pre-Perestroyka movie version of ‘Shining’. We thought that a bed sheet ghost would fit perfectly to these uncanny hallways, and one night, when we were sure that all of the merciless heavyweight parlour maids had left the building, we staged this picture.
The pile of rotten bananas is from a project called ‘One Third’. According to a UN survey, one third of food goes to waste worldwide. This shocking amount inspired me to do a photo series on that issue, depicting rotting food, staged to elaborate still lives. For that series, I did not just take photos of the rotting food items, I also coexisted with it for a period of nine months. I had some kind of ‘rotting station’ built out of plastic containers in my toilet, where I left te food to get ‘ready’ for me. Once I decided it was rotten enough, I photographed it in an improvised studio in the living room. I tried not only to make photos of rotting food, I also tried to bring in a second layer, a hidden meaning, a reference into each and every picture representing culture and culture industry. This pile of rotting bananas is the ‘Black Metal’ – image: the openend banana can be seen as a (yes!) openend banana, or as a pentagram.
‘Krampus’ is a dreadful mythological figure from the European Alps, which has pagan roots but later got christianized and implemented into the tradition of ‘Saint Nikolaus’. While Saint Nikolaus is giving sweets to the well-behaving children, the Krampus is punishing the bad ones. In most parts of Austria, in the evenings around December 5th, so-called ‘Krampus-runs’ are held, where hordes of young men dressed up as ‘Krampus’ are beating young women with twigs.
So much for the origin of the figure on this picture. The picture is taken from my current series, called ‘Just the two of us’, focusing on persons with elaborate costumes. There are plenty of traditions linked to costumes, some old, some quite new, and my aim was to make a series about costumes and the persons beyond. Therefore, I got in contact with comunities and single persons which are parts of certain costume traditions (LARP, Furries, Star Wars, Cosplay etc.) and staged them in their own flats. This particular pictures shows a member of a ‘Krampus association’ from Austria in his costume. The masks are made from wood, the horns are from a goat and the suit is made of sheep and goat fur.
This is my nephew, Clemens, when he was a kid. He’s in puberty now, and everything is ‘uncool’ and ’embarrassing’, but when he was a kid he loved posing for photos and he brought up lots of ideas how to stage him. To my surprise and despite he was (and is) a happy kid, most of his ideas were quite dark.
Have you heard about Pungent Stench? They have been Austria’s No. 1 extreme metal band in the nineties, blending Death Metal with their own kind of sick humor. They did world tours with band like Macabre or Brutal Truth and raised controvery by using artworks by Joel-Peter Witkin on their LP covers. Pungent Stench split up in 1995 and stated their reunion 2001. I did the promo and artwork photos for their 2001 LP ‘Masters of moral, servants of sin’, which showed the bandmembers dressed up as greasy priests. It was great fun shoting the pictures – we had an old Mercedes funeral car and staged the images on some places of rural Austria – much to the surprise of the locals, who either were shocked or bowed their heads in dignity when they saw the three priests climbing off the car.
Unfortunately, Pungent Stench have split up again, but Martin ‘El Cochino’ Schirenc (git, voc) has currently announced that there will be somefuture activities under the monicker ‘The Church of Pungent Stench’ to celebrate the old days.
This picture shows the wax model of a human heart, crafted between 1784 and 1788, exhibited in the ‘Josephinum’, the museum of the history of medicine in Vienna. I made this picture (and some others of other body parts’ wax models) as a commission for the Research Center for Molecular Medicine, illustrating their annual report. As you may can imagine, this wax piece is extremely sensitive and, out of conservatory reasons, is neither to be touched, nor moved, nor flashed onto (etc.), therefore I had to be extremely careful when photographing it. I mounted the camera on a tripod, used a torch as primary light (very funny relations: digital medium format camera: $ 14.000, lighting: $ 10…) and light-painted certain parts of the heart whilst exposing for 30 seconds. The final result you can see here: a ‘Frankenstein’ image, assembled by parts from seven different exposures.
This wall of skulls shows a hallway in the anthropologic department of the Museum of Natural History in Vienna. The anthropologic collection consists of more than 9.000 skulls (and the matching skeletons) from all over the world and from all ages.
I have been granted permission to take photos there, as well as in the other non-public ‘backstage’ areas of the museum- Over a period of three years, I have been working there to complete my project ‘Skeletons in the closet’, showing the interiors of the storage rooms and depots of the museum. The result is a collection of sometimes quite absurd images, which are united in my self-published book ‘Skeleton in the closet’ (2013), available from my website: www.kpic.at
Since my focus is more into conceptual photography (although I love to take pictures of bands) there are not many photos which are music- related. To bring in some music into this feature, here’s my all-time top ten list of albums (in no particular order) from the ditorted guitar department.
CARCASS – Heartwork
IMPALED NAZARENE – Tol cormpt norz norz norz
BRUTAL THUTH – Extreme conditions demand extreme responses
TOOL – Aenima
MELVINS – Houdini
EMPEROR – In the nightside eclipse
PUNGENT STENCH – Been caught buttering
ENTOMBED – Clandestine
AT THE GATES – Slaughter of the soul
SEPULTURA – Arise