Who is Claudia Otto?
If I knew that for sure. I am still discovering new sides. I am 57 years old, a musician and photographer and a mother of two grown-up children.
Greifswald! You are so wonderful!?
Many years ago I got a job as a flute player in the theatre and I stayed here. I love the bleak landscape and the sea. Greifswald has become a part of home. And yes, I still have a suitcase in Berlin 😉
Music was your first love?
Yes. I have been playing a musical instrument since I was a child and I can’t stop. A moment in music is unrepeatable, the sounds fade in space, which is beautiful and has the lightness of a soap bubble about it. What has just been played looses its value after. And so I have to invent myself every day. That is beautiful but quite stressful, too, since there is very fine line between success and failure.
People are strange? (The Doors)
Being strange is our nature as humans. We take ourselves awfully seriously, we invent rules and believe we have all well in hand. We insist on our views and rarely listen. And then hope to find everything in the same place today, too: the coffee pot, as well as every cup in the cupboard, the hat on the shelve, the eggs in the fridge, black and white carefully separated. And lucky us, when we look in the mirror no surprise awaits us.
If, however, things got twisted, like if our bad and crazy dreams of the night accompanied us to the breakfast table and we were getting chocked up even during the day. Or if the irrational did not close up again at daylight. Then our perspective would change. Nothing would be simple or two-dimensional anymore, the nuances would take shape…
What models match your photography projects?
They should be imaginative, smart, versatile and resourceful. At the same time true to themselves, serious or cheerful, ideally both. And a little crazy, too!
Why photograph people in the nude?
More authentic than being naked is hardly possible. For some of the stories I want to capture in pictures it is the perfect fit. Nothing to distract the attention away from the essence of being.
Love is in the hair?
Yes, because hair can fly, flatter, veil, it can be a lure, bewitch, it can be a tangle and tangled, it can be stringy and unruly. It shows how we feel; it builds up electrical charge when we are in love. But it also turns white overnight when we are suffering grief. As photographers it is easy for us to play with this magic material and to go a bit crazy, too. And, if we are lucky we achieve something good that inspires our imagination.
A flower is a flower is a flower?
It is what it is and yet it is not. Let the superficial beholder be satisfied with its beauty, while we attribute another deeper meaning to it (the flower).
You’ll eat what’s put on the table?!
Of course, at least most of the fruits and vegetables used in the photo shoot… The fish, in particular, has to get on the plate quickly… This was one answer. The other is: obviously models can say no to settings they absolutely don’t care for… But rarely happens.
Rituals are magic
Oh yes… rituals transform the ordinary, the mundane becomes sacred or truly special at least, everyday situations turn into a celebration. In rituals we share community… we feel that we belong, an ancient need of us humans.
Photo shoots have their own rituals and superstitions?
I will have a longer conversation with the model before every photo shoot, possibly over a good coffee… and then there will be questions on end… I want to create closeness. Without closeness between us this special intimacy would be missing in the pictures.
Religion is part of the human make-up? (Christopher Hitchens)
The divine and spirituality have a value in my life: not to restrict knowledge, but to extend it. Not as a whip of moral authority but as a common thread running throughout it. Not as a rewarding outlook on reaching paradise, but to treasure this life and, finally, as a regulator of such hubris that often accumulates to the immeasurable in us humans.
Father’s on the Phone with the Flies (Herta Müller) – Mother’s on the Phone with the …?
Tax adviser :-).
Time waits for no one (The Rolling Stones)
Absolutely. Life is finite and fragile indeed. Let‘s live and live to the full.
Salvatore Dalí or René Magritte?
The „Diffizile“ of Dalí, the collage method of Magritte! It is fascinating how they both play with our perceptual and cognitive abilities.
Do you prefer “Eraserhead” by David Lynch to “Blow-Up” by Michelangelo Antonioni?
„Eraserhead“ is really crazy… Both are extremely exciting surrealist films.
Your favorite photography book?
„Berlin in einer Hundenacht“ by Gundula Schulze Eldowy.
Unless a picture shocks, it is nothing? (Marcel Duchamp)
However, there is more than just provocation behind my pictures… most of all, I wish to tell about the space in between, about what is behind the visible, about what is only rarely that it seems to be.
Claudia, no more being an artist; go get a job?
Well I’d say, even if I stocked shelves in a supermarket or delivered newspapers, I would still continue to spin my stories… 🙂 You do not stop being an artist as easily as you take off your coat. You are an artist and you remain one.
Your goal in life? To Swim with dolphins?
Ha-ha… no, I don’t think so… Perhaps to have understood a bit more about this crazy life.
_Uwe Buschmann (copy editing Silvia Strauch)