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Oliver Sieber at TH13

Imaginary Club

A journey to the heart of a little-known worldwide community: the outer reaches of the punk club scene, and the groups that perform there.  Invited by TH13 in Berne, German photographer Oliver Sieber presents a striking portrait of an uncompromising, multifaceted counter-culture.


Fondation d'Entreprise Hermès - Oliver Sieber at TH13
© Oliver Sieber

German photographer Oliver Sieber spent years touring clubs and concert halls all over the world, creating his iconic portraits of fans on the global punk scene. Photographed in three-quarter profile, no one ever looks into the camera. Everyone wears highly elaborate, carefully-evolved outfits, makeup and hairstyles, asserting  their unique presence. Everyone is different, yet everyone belongs to the same community.

Now, as the guest of the Foundation’s photography space TH13 in Berne, Sieber presents Imaginary Club, a corpus of images and people collected and encountered on his travels.

Beyond the project’s obvious socio-anthropological interest, the images are above all a personal testimony from the inside: Sieber is himself a committed punk, well versed in the scene’s mores and rituals. He focuses primarily on the aesthetics of punk counter-culture, familiar from snapshots circulated on social networks. Sieber’s response to this spontaneous imagery is a contrasting body of work ‘notable for its power, and its aesthetic and documentary rigour,’ says exhibition curator Paul Cottin. 

The resulting ensemble embraces ‘a variety of photographic approaches, from studio image to still life, and pictures snatched seemingly at random, on the move.’ Complementing the colour portraits of individual punks, Imaginary Club captures deserted sites and venues (empty concert halls, nocturnal street scenes) in black and white, at the heart of the cities visited.

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Theaterplatz 13, 3011, Bern, Switzerland

Monday - Saturday, 10 am - 5 pm

Free admission: from 11/01/2013 to 02/23/2014


Curator: Paul Cottin