Martin Krüger

<br /><strong><em>Martin Krüger</em></strong><br />Written by Omar Nasir<br />Photography by Martin Krüger<br /> Produced by Jake Freeman</br><br />German photographer Martin Krüger has carved a niche in the art world with an arresting, visceral sense of portraiture. Illuminating a range of artists exuding strong emotional and physical self-identities, Krüger challenges society’s limited standards of beauty. Each portrait is singular in its candor — enabling an intimate exchange with its viewer. In the following interview, the artist reveals his artistic process, his distaste for labels, and why he views flaws as manifestations of human diversity.<br /><br /><strong>Your portraits capture the restrained beauty of several noteworthy artists including Ezra Furman and Ellen ten Damme. How important is it to you to challenge societal perceptions of beauty?<br /></strong><br />Challenging this is quite important for me as I am bored of the conventional perception of beauty in nowadays society. I am very interested in people who are at ease with themselves and who don’t have inhibitions. For me, these artists represent that.<br /><br /><strong>What factors contributed to the selection of these specific acclaimed artists as subjects of your photographs?<br /></strong><br />I love the music of both and I think that the stage performance of both is very open and close to the audience. I was interested to find out how they would be in private — what is performance and how much of the private self they will share when the lights are on. That’s what I like to tease out in my portraits. And I think in some rare moments I found something and was lucky enough to capture it. I spent a lot of time with Ezra and Ellen and we talked a lot about emotions, self esteem, and about the way people sense artists in relation with their art and also detached from it and also about love, which always is a big part in my work in general and also‚ the love in the moment which they gave me to experience when they let themselves fall in the situation, which is only possible if they trust me. So I have to be also very open with my heart and emotions to take a good photo and make the meeting, the experience, a lovely time for both of us.<br /><strong> </strong><br /><strong>Your work challenges beauty stigmas. Can you elaborate on how your work</strong> <strong>challenges these stigmas?<br /></strong><br />I am fascinated by people who show that they are comfortable in their own bodies. I hope to translate that into photographs. I wouldn’t say that the people posing for me fall under beauty stigmas. They all are beautiful. Additionally we should all question why we like to put labels on people and judge them as soon as they do not fit in. In my opinion, unnatural beauty patterns were created and are nurtured by the beauty industry. I think so-called stigmas are only products of our fear and arrogance, which we have to get rid of.<br /><strong> <br /></strong>
<br /><strong>How were you able to capture each artist’s idiosyncrasies?<br /></strong><br />I just show them that they can trust me and that I am absolutely honest with what I want and what I do. And also I show them every photo I choose for my portfolio to give them the right to approve it or not, which makes it very easy for them to feel safe when I’m around. Except that, I don’t take so many photos during the time we meet. In general, I talk a lot more with the people I photograph instead of taking photos, I think mostly it is a ratio like 80% talking and 20% shooting — kind of a first date with taking some photos so we can both remember.<br /><strong> </strong><br /><strong>Exploring body dysmorphia is an underlying motif in your nude portraits. Why do you think this disorder is so prevalent in our society?<br /></strong><br />Actually, all of the people I have taken nude portraits of were really at ease with their bodies. In my opinion, body dysmorphia is more a global phenomenon made up and fueled by the impossible standards of the beauty and fashion industry to sell their crap and make money. I think it is disrespectful to mark people in this way only because they are different“<br /><br /><strong>Androgynous model, Vincent Littlehat is featured in an evocative portrait. What is it about her androgyny that drew you to her?</strong><br /><strong> </strong><br />I liked her face as well as her aura. Generally the play between masculinity and femininity is appealing to me. She had the persona and face of a male teenager but offers on the other hand, the shy sexuality of a young girl.<br /><br /><span>
</span><br /><strong>Why are you intent on revealing the physical flaws in the subjects of your portraits?<br /></strong><br />I don’t see them as physicals flaws but as manifestations of human diversity. For me the human body has a beauty in itself, in all forms. They are just called flaws because of we are all trapped in a beauty-and what is normal-conformity made up matrix which was created a long time ago as we pilloried and laughed about people which where different.<br /><strong> </strong><br /><strong>There is a provocative candor in your nude portraits. How were you able to achieve</strong><br /><strong>this sense of authenticity?</strong><br /><strong> </strong><br />It all started with having persuaded my grandmother to pose topless for a series of portraits for my qualifying examination at the HGB Leipzig. I have always been interested in showing authentic people in their own environment, people from next door. Unfortunately, there is no artificial secret to tell.<br /><br /><strong>You include subjects of all age types. How do you think age plays a role in society’s ideals of beauty?<br /></strong><br />In general, it doesn’t. I think there is no longer age or aging. I think it’s more fear of death and conservation of something that is long gone already.<br /><br />