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Koenraad Vermey

The Other Side of Venus

Anna Charlotte Schmid’s series of poetic portraits showing young queer men in Eastern Europe has been travelling around the world. We spoke to Anna Charlotte Schmid while she was in Houston (US) for the photography exhibition ‘I Am A Camera’.

I captured the shy moments of these young men in Budapest and Prague who seem to still look for their ‘very own’ identity.

How did your series ‘The other side of Venus’ first came to life?

“I visited the University of Fine Arts (MOME) in Budapest in 2009 and I keep coming back to the city to work on my projects. I feel personally connected to the East. I tend to work with themes of discrimination and persecution, and the dispute with the ‘otherness’ in countries that misuse governmental authority.

My first photograph "Gabor and Kolos" was taken in 2011 in Budapest and during this time, Gabor became the central figure in my series. I became a close friend of everybody who I photographed for "The other side of Venus". I was impressed by Gabor’s very sensitive personality and I observed him before I asked to take his portrait. During the two years I was working on this project, I saw Gabor and the others growing in self-confidence, shaped by a form of vulnerability.”

Being gay in these countries still means fear of discrimination and persecution.

"In terms of civil rights, development and activist movements, I see the Eastern countries kind of left behind compare to the West. These young men I photographed are still going the dangerous path of realization of their identity.”

Your series shows young men in desolate places. What is the story you’re telling with those photos?

“The spaces which I used as a ‘stage’ for my painting-like-photographs represent the same feeling as the ones of these young men I photographed. Isolated and kind of forgotten in a society that has been suppressed for decades. Spaces are taken out of context and show detailed historical chasm. These young men are not yet on the run, but they are looking for shelter and security. And so they find themselves on the outskirts of vacant, abandoned sites. Unseen by the ‘outside’ world, they meet and have time for intimacy.

In the limbo of post-puberty, the revelation of your own sexuality is a highly sensitive form of vulnerability. The photos are the visualization of a secret longing and individuality in a moment of solitude, shifting from a strong presence to a unstable emotionality, that I captured with my camera."  

Biography

Anna Charlotte Schmid (1984, Essen) lives and works in Berlin. She studied photography at the Hochschule für Künste in Bremen and at MOME/Moholy-Nagy University in Budapest. With ‘The Other Side of Venus’, she became one of the prize winners of the Pride Photo Award in 2013. Her work has been shown in Amsterdam, Berlin, Budapest and recently in Houston. New work is in progress. 

Schmid's series 'The Other Side of Venus' is part of the Foam exhibition showing the highlights of 5 years Pride Photo Award. The exhibition opens on the 31st of July and runs until the 19th of August. 

koenraad.jpg
Koenraad Vermey