"Shadows on concrete" by Markus Käsler

Jul 18, 2016

Markus is a photographer from Germany who takes photography to its basics by working primarily with pinhole cameras. His images are simple, calm and with an emphasis on geometry and shapes, which in turn releases us from distractions and makes us engage and reflect about the meaning of the work. This reduction is also central to Markus’ work, as he looks to eliminate boundaries by creating ‘universal’ images that have no affiliations or cultural references.


Following we want to present a great interview that we had with Markus:


am - First of all thank you very much for your contribution to our project. Can you please introduce yourself for us?

MK - My name is Markus Käsler. I am a pinhole photographer from Germany. I studied Chinese language and culture in Taipei, Taiwan before doing an apprenticeship in photography. Since 2004 I mainly do pinhole work aside of portraits of jazz musicians.


am - How did you start in photography?

MK - How did it happen? Well, it all actually started when writing for a students newspaper. At a certain point I had the chance to write articles for the local newspaper. One day they asked me if I could also take an image of hunters at their annual reunion. I said yes but without even owning a camera or having any idea of how to use it. This coincidence changed my life. From that day on I had a camera. Into pinhole photography I stepped later in my life. A project about the Khmer ruins in Angkor led me the way at the beginning of the millennium. All the monuments at the Angkor site have been created with a minimal impact of technical equipment. Therefore I asked myself how to encounter those incredible architectural marvels in an adequate photographic way. The only possibility I saw, was to reduce photography to its very basic; ending up with pinhole photography. My first pinhole project was born: “Angkor through a pinhole”.


am - What inspires your work?

MK - That is a big question. I consider work and inspiration as an inseparable self-sustaining circle of creativity. An interaction of experiences an new impressions. Often the occupation with one topic creates new ideas and leads to another approach. I got to say, that I am not actively looking for inspiration. It just happens. Though, everyday life has the most influence on my work. Reading news, observing my environment, admiring other people’s art. If you have a look at my projects, you’ll notice, that most of them have an international orientation. I am looking for subjects that have a certain meaning for everyone, regardless where you live or which cultural background you have. Since I am traveling a lot for my projects I discover plenty of things around the globe that tell me: we all are not as different as we think. Through my work I try to make this gap in people’s mind-settings a little closer. This idea is a driving force behind my work as well as a source of inspiration. Another one is the search of silence and tranquility in an even more fast-moving –at least in my eyes– and unstable world.


am - What was your intention making the series “Shadows on concrete”?

MK - My main intention of the “shadows on concrete” series is to cross the borders in our heads that are determined by our own prejudices, as well as territory boundaries. The texture of the concrete material creates, in interaction with light, spaces that seem to be free of geographical determinants. Having only concrete structures, monochrome skies and deep shadows to be seen on the images, photographs that are not to be located emerge, and the absence of any cultural affiliation offers the freedom to view without prejudices. People in Vienna may observe them in the same way that people in Havana or Antananarivo could do. The separation from judging cultural or religious valuation of places and the consequent reduction towards the materiality in interaction with light reveals similarities that weakens borders. This makes all the photographs join both, home and the other. Light and shadow. Shadow and light. Both antipodes are not fixed anymore. With the movement of the sun the borders between light and shadow move. The actual origin of the image looses importance and it rises questions: To which extent are terms like borders more a construct in our heads than real political boundaries? What happens if we can not distinguish home and the unknown anymore? Through the aid of reduction I try with this project to approach a more abstract dimension of borders.


am - Who are your favourite photographers / artists?

MK - Anton Corbijn, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Richard Serra.


am - How would you describe your photographs in 3 words?

MK - more than gray.


am - When you are not taking pictures, what do you do?

MK - thinking about taking pictures, planning projects, reading, running.


am - What are 5 things you could absolutely not live without?

MK - pinhole camera, running shoes, airports, coffee, my girlfriend.


am - If you could travel and stay in a place for one year, where would you choose to go?

MK - right now, I would say Japan… it’s a place I have never been before and therefore I idealize it as a cornucopia of inspiration and ideas.


am - Favourite songs / bands at the moment?

MK - oh, that’s hard… as a live act Kimmo Pohjonen or Nils Petter Molvaer.


am - What’s your favourite movie?

MK - can’t really tell…


am - What are you reading at the moment?

MK - Roger Willemsen - Momentum.


am - Do you have any project in mind that could be a personal or professional challenge?

MK - oh yes … and I am already in the middle of it.

Its called CONTACT // crossing cities. It is a visual melting pot of cities. It links pairs of cities in different countries and unites them in a unique photographic way; one part of the pinhole images is taken in one city, the other part in its corresponding. On the same sheet of film.


am - Thank you very much for your time and your contribution to analog magazine.

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