Interviews, Photobooks

Berlin stories of transgression, sexuality and landscape

All images © Marc Vallée

London-based photographer Marc Vallée talks through his latest project Tiergarten Transgression, ahead of his book launch at The Photographers Gallery.

“The Tiergarten is Berlin’s oldest urban public park and is kind of a cross between Hyde Park and Hampstead Heath. It’s an amazing space, with an amazing history right at the heart of the city. If you can get your head around the Tiergarten I think you can start to get your head around Berlin and its history,” says photographer Marc Vallée. This July he attended a conference on the park called Tiergarten, Landscape of Transgression at the Haus der Kulturern der Welt, and he’s turned his visual response to the issues discussed there into a zine.

Including 12 images over 24 pages, the zine documents a queer anarchist exploring the park’s historic gay cruising area. It’s been a hookup hotspot for the last 100 years or so, even during the Nazi era, and the zine looks at landscape and space, sexuality and the act of transgression – or the act of seeking it out.

It’s the seventh zine Vallée has put together, starting in 2012 with Writers, documenting the London graffiti scene, and Anti-Skateboarding Devices, which he describes as “a visual polemic against how private corporations and local authorities aim to reshape individual and group behaviour in the context of skateboarding”. Both zines attempted to examine at how the physical space of the city is now used and controlled, he explains. “It’s about the privatisation of public space, defensible architecture and those that defy that control. Both zines take a pop at the idea of the neoliberal city and all that comes with it”.

Documenting Dylan and Number Four were published the following year – Documenting Dylan looking at the life of a young skateboarder, and Number Four including visual references to the London skateboarding, photography and zine publishing scenes. Queer and Number Six were published last year – Number Six again exploring the tension between public and private space in the context of contemporary youth culture.

Queer documents two years in the life of the writer Dom Lyne, at his home in Camden Town. “The zine is kind of an antidote, maybe even a reaction to the ever-increasing, and for me, boring homogenised gay world,” says Vallée. “Dom and I first met at the Ghetto nightclub behind the London Astoria many years ago. Both spaces have now been destroyed for Crossrail. We both share a passion for the work of the American novelist Dennis Cooper; the zine is also partly about Dom’s struggle with mental illness, but it’s also about the importance of an alternative queer gaze”. 

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