Iconic is an often overused word, but when someone manages to not only profoundly shape their art form, but also stay relevant 20 something years into their career, the term is more than justified. Opening today at the ICA, Juergen Teller: W00 is an expansive study of the Erlangen-born photographer’s work.
From his black and white images of Kurt Cobain during Nirvana’s tour in 1991 to the provocative nudes of Vivienne Westwood, every honest and intimate portrait by the German photographer, alongside his longstanding collaborations with brands such as Helmut Lang and Marc Jacobs, not only commemorates his longevity as both a commercial and art photographer but also shows that aside from his trademark overexposed photography technique, what really makes a Juergen Teller image is his connection to the individual.
During a preview of the exhibition yesterday, Teller spoke openly about his work process and decades’ worth of pressing the shutter button:
“With every picture you have to be really open and honest about it and tell people what you want to do. I have no idea what I am looking for in an image, it really varies. I have to have complete concentration on the subject, I never have music playing or people standing behind me talking, it drives me crazy. I need the full attention, of their attention to me as I have attention to them, and that’s why it’s powerful and direct in every picture. My way of working hasn’t really changed that much since the beginning, but I have become a lot more careful, project-based and tend to work in series. I am more confident and secure within myself. I want to explore and see things, I’m curious about life. You only live once, you can’t just be miserable and complain all the time, you have to take risks to do something exciting and that’s what I try to do. You have to fucking go out there and do it.”
Juergen Teller: Woo exhibits at ICA until March 17.