Interview with Sven Marquardt: The Legendary Berghain Bouncer Launches Photo Exhibit in Manila

Sven Marquardt Manila Philippines_Interview Katharina Schmidt

You have become a well known figure. Do people often recognize you on the streets in Berlin or other places? Do they usually approach you?

Yes, as a matter of fact I get recognized in other cities too because Berghain has a very international audience. Even at the Club Berlin exhibition I was part of in Manila last year some audience members had been to Berghain before. And even in New York people recognized me. But those are usually club-goers who know about me through Berghain.

Do you enjoy the publicity you receive through the club? Surely it must come with some advantages?

I think that the success of Berghain gave not only me a chance but also other creatives and artists connected to the club. Of course we have a lot to be grateful to the club for. But what is a little bit annoying to me is that every time my name is mentioned somewhere, Berghain is mentioned as well. A Berlin newspaper recently reported about a group exhibition of works by Berlin-based artists that I was part of. The article read ‘well known to everyone as a Berghain bouncer, Sven Marquardt is in fact a photographer and was even professionally trained.’ That is a little exhausting to me. Of course Berghain is a part of my life and origin but I feel that the media overuses the name Berghain to attract more readers to articles, gain more likes, more clicks, more buyers. I think that is also exhausting to everyone else that is part of the club.

During interviews you often get asked about your tattoos and piercings. Do those questions bother you?

A little bit {laughs}. My tattoos are visible, especially on my arms and neck but I feel that people should assess for themselves what they see, what they think they see or don’t. I just recently read something I had written about that in my diary. My tattoos were all conscious decisions; they are marks, scars, memories…

Sven Marquardt Manila Philippines_Interview Katharina Schmidt

Where in Berlin do you like to hang out and eat out? What are your insider tips?

I still enjoy being in Berlin Mitte (Berlin central district). There was a time that people referred to Mitte as being ‘too chic’, and ‘too expensive’ but I like going to cafes there. And sometimes I even sit at the concept store of the Soho House, have some coffee, eat a piece of cake and drink some fresh and healthy juice. I also enjoy being in Prenzlauer Berg (a district of Berlin). Every now and then I go to the Kudamm, a part of West Berlin where time seems to have stood still.

Do you use public transportation in Berlin?

Yes, I use it exclusively. If I need to transport something then I call Hardy for help. But I really enjoy getting around in public transportation and also walk a lot in the city.

What’s your opinion about the Berlin hype?

I sometimes have a hard time to comprehend that hype. If you’ve been to other metropolitan cities, for example Hong Kong, New York or even here in Manila, then I wonder why everyone wants to come to Berlin? I don’t know…does that sound spoiled? {laughs}

Not at all! Could you also imagine living abroad at some point in your life?

I would really like to do an art residency somewhere abroad at some point, either through a scholarship, some type of funding or self-funded. I previously applied to an artist residency in Japan, which unfortunately did not work out.

So Asia does interest you even as a place to live at?

Asian culture is of course very different from what I am used to and how I grew up. But I even told Hardy yesterday while shopping that there is something here in Asia that seems less stressful to me. I think it is something about the mentality of the people, perhaps more tolerance… Recently we went to New York for three weeks and New York is awesome! But New York requires so much energy, the city dictates your life and you don’t really have any influence on anything. The city swallows you up and spits you out somewhere, either up high or down low. Of course it could be like that anywhere in the world but I find that in Asia there is something very peaceful and the people are very respectful. Which is why a scholarship in a country so far away from home would be very interesting to me.

Sven Marquardt Manila Philippines_Interview Katharina Schmidt

I wasn’t able to find you on any social media channels. Do you not like to use any?

I do find Instagram interesting and sometimes even search for #SvenMarquardt just to see what is out there. But I’ve always thought I would do my own thing and nobody I don’t know needs to write me so I don’t have any social media accounts {laughs}. During breakfast at our hotel here in Manila, we noticed a woman at the neighboring table taking photos of her child, who was already posing while eating pancakes. And I thought ‘surely those photos will appear on Instagram afterwards!’ I found the child’s typical selfie expression very amusing. When I see all those same looking girls in Germany selling beauty products on Instagram it does baffle me. They are called ‘Influencers’ I think….right?

Yes! Do you find this selfie-taking social media culture annoying?

No, it doesn’t bother me. Sometimes I think ‘My God, I’m so old-fashioned’. But I myself prefer to focus on my analog, mainly black and white photography and still try to capture the Zeitgeist.

What aside from your work and photography do you like to do? How do you spend your free time?

Oh, I have little time left aside from that. I do enjoy having photo shoots when I’m not traveling. In my remaining free time, I enjoy meeting up with friends, make sure to maintain my friendships and relationships, to stay grounded and not become out of touch or affected by some type of ‘Oh my God, he can travel around the whole world now’-type of mentality. You know, I like to let my surrounding know that I’m there for them.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

That’s a good question. I’m not sure. I think I will be traveling less. At the moment I travel a lot, one trip is followed by the next one. But I think that at my age I would want to make some room for the next generation. In 10 years I hope to continue to work as a photography instructor at the Ostkreuzschule. I feel that is something I could grow old with. And everything else remains to be seen.

Sven Marquardt Manila Philippines_Interview Katharina Schmidt

Catch Sven Marquardt’s exhibition “Future’s Past”, brought to Manila by the Goethe-Institut Philippinen, at the Yuchengco Museum until August 11.

Yuchengco Museum

RCBC Plaza, Ayala Avenue and corner Senator Gil J. Puyat Avenue, Makati City
Opening hours: 10am – 6pm daily (closed on Sundays)

Goethe Institute Manila


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