Frank Herfort, a young German photographer, who lives and works in Moscow and Germany, spent his youth in Leipzig (East Germany). His style is influenced by social realism: people are shown in their everyday life, which seems to be made up by banal details. Urban areas are captured in their vast dimensions. At a first quick glance this appears to be a frank, straightforward and clear reflection of ‘reality’. A longer reception reveals that this depiction can be seen as ironic, questioning and hyper-real.
While being a photography student at Hamburg art school he continuously assisted several different photographers. In addition, he worked as an assistant and freelancer in London while he participated in a scholarship program. Thus he familiarized himself with the professional working process. Flexibility, diligence, conscientiousness and clarity are his strengths while dealing with clients. Over the years, he acquired a range of different photography awards. He specializes in photography of people, architecture, interior and combinations of these.
Frank Herfort lived Moscow for four years. He photographed interiors, architecture and people for Russian and global clients from the advertising, editorial and construction industries. His high-quality technique is transferred to his personal projects and characterizes his style. He is passionate about shooting original, authentic and surreal images from the fascinating worlds of super rich and super poor Russia.
Central focus of Frank’s artistic work is exploring the contrasts and contradictions of life in contemporary Russia. Whether situated in the austere, crumbling remains of Soviet society or the opulent homes of modern Russian oligarchs, the spellbinding results demonstrate a singular talent for documentary storytelling. These immersive environments intrigue with people and riveting places are seemingly caught out of both time and context.
Bleek Magazine: What has inspired you to travel to Russia and Kazakhstan? What did you expect to see and did it match your expectations?
Frank Herfort: I permanently lived in Russia from 2006 till 2012, now I’m splitting my time between Berlin and Moscow. I came to Russia for the first time in 2001 or so. I´ve always been interested in Russia and Soviet Union, since my childhood. I was born in Leipzig, East-Germany and my life history is more based on and connected to the east more than to the west.
On my way to school, I always passed two Soviet Soldier Barracks and, of course, I´ve always been curious about who were these people and where were they from.
I never expect to see anything while travelling. If it were like this, I wouldn’t travel. I love the unpredictable things. There is not a lot of them in our life these days. But in Russia you never know what is going to happen. 🙂
Also getting some permissions and dealing with evil security guards can drive me crazy sometimes. But, the good thing about Russia is that you can talk to anyone and get anything you need.
Bleek Magazine: Did you have any concept prior starting your work in Russia and Kazakhstan?
Frank Herfort: No. I was looking and exploring for some new architecture, especially the huge constructions, for my project “Imperial Pomp” only. But the only concept I have is creating images, so everything I find I can use for my photographs.
Bleek Magazine: Did you face any difficulties (with visual material) while shooting in Russia?
Frank Herfort: I feel very comfortable while photographing in Russia. I never had any big problems or difficulties during my shootings, especially in the province, where people are really sweet. In Moscow they are a bit more rough and focused on money.
Only once I was robbed by a Taxi Gang in Samara. This really shocked me and brought me into very bad mood, but just for one day.
Also getting some permissions and dealing with evil security guards can drive me crazy sometimes. But the good thing about Russia is that you can talk to anyone and get anything you need.
I love the unpredictable things. These days it´s not much of them in our life. However, in Russia you never know what is going to happen.
Bleek Magazine: How did this trip influence your future works?
Frank Herfort: I´m not sure it did influence my artistic work; it was just a part of the process. But through my “Imperial Pomp” project I got a lot of attention from international architects and designers. Just two weeks ago I traveled to Kazakhstan again to create an architectural project for two London architects.
Bleek Magazine: Could you please tell us one short story from this trip?
Frank Herfort: Actually, there are a lot of stories. One nice story happened to me when I’ve visited Surgut. After two days I’ve spent there, I decided to go to Chanty-Mansiysk, which is, regarding the size of Russia, a neighborhood city. I looked for bus tickets, but realized that it is not much fun to go in overloaded coaches several hundred kilometers and flying is also boring. Back in the city, I met some handsome guy who seemed to have not much to do. After a while, he asked me about my plans and suggested me that he could bring me to Chanty-Mansyisk by his brand new Pick-Up Truck. I didn´t think twice and we had some funny hours riding almost 500 km through the white Siberian night. Around four o´clock in the morning we arrived to Chanty-Mansyisk, had some coffee at a strange bar and he went back to Surgut straight away.
In a winter time my colleague and I were in a very small and almost extinct village. For us it looked like if we would use a time machine, which had catapulted us on hundred years back. A family invited us to a vodka evening, their son has died some days before in his burned house, what he didn´t realized because he was totally drunken.
In the morning after a 70-year-old guy was riding his horse with a sledge to the neighbor village for getting post mail and some products to eat. Women washed their clothes in an ice hole in a water 3 Celsius degree.
Bleek Magazine: How is your show going? Did you get any reviews from the visitors of the exhibition?
Frank Herfort: The opening show was very nice and charming. I really enjoyed the reaction of the people.
Bleek Magazine: Tell us a little bit about you artistic plans, what are you working on right now?
Frank Herfort: I´m preparing some new project, which won’t take place in Russia only. But, it´s too early to tell anything more detailed about it. I´m still making a research and planning steps.
© Bleek Magazine. The material is prepared with support of Glaz Gallery, Moscow, Russia.