Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Off The Wall

A View With Globe Trotter Luci Wesphal

Abandoned buildings, street images on film and fotos.

Meet Luci, we did...

RD: Tell us where you’re from and where you live now please, Luci?

I’m originally from Hamburg, Germany. Then I lived in Florida for 5 years and in Brooklyn for 11 years, where I feel most at home. Now I’ve been in Berlin for a little over a year. That’s how I came up with the name GNYBerlin (German New Yorker in Berlin) for the channel of my weekly one-minute video series “In A Berlin Minute”, which I’ve been publishing since I got to Berlin.

RD: What media do you use and what made you pick them?

Mostly I shoot videos, but I also take some photographs.

What I like about video is that it seems more alive. I think it’s exciting to see an image of street art and suddenly a person walks. It gives it context: it’s not in a gallery, it’s on the streets where people walk by everyday on their way to the store. It gives you a sense for the neighborhood.

I've also taken shots with my iphone, (via Instagram or Hipstamatic) chalk up another medium.

RD: Are you self taught?

No, I attended film school.

RD: Which camera do you use for stills and which for vids, and why did you choose those particular cameras?

For both photography and my short videos I currently use the Panasonic TZ-10, a little point’n’shoot. Because I make a video every week about something I see or experience, I always need to have the camera on me. So I work with something that fits in my bag instead of the fancy DSLR I’d like to have. The reason I picked that particular point’n’shoot is that it has a great lens, has a built-in stereo mic and uses the AVC HD Lite codec, which delivers pretty awesome looking HD footage.

RD: We understand you lived in Brooklyn, NY for a number of years - firstly, what inspired you to choose there to live and secondly, did the city stimulate your interest in old buildings and graffiti?

Since I was a kid I wanted to live in NYC. I guess I first moved to Brooklyn because you get a lot more space for less money. So it has a natural draw for artists and other creatives. It’s both gritty and beautiful and it’s full of immigrants and diversity. I always tell people with pride that I’m from Brooklyn.

To me the city is stimulating on all kinds of levels, it’s so alive and full of inspiring people. But old buildings, decay and the juxtaposition with nature or art work has been fascinating to me as long as I’ve been taking photographs – so before I moved to Brooklyn.

It seems that today there are actually more “old-school” spray-paint graffiti made in Hamburg and Berlin than in New York. Berlin and New York both seem to be a great canvas for stencils and wheat paste prints and newer style murals. So all cities have me in awe with all the amazing art you can find on the streets or in abandoned buildings.

RD: Could you describe to us the most exciting building you have been in and do you go with a group or as a loner?

The most exciting building-exploration was probably the one I show in the “Graffiti Factory” video. It’s a decaying red-brick factory building on the South side of the river Spree in Berlin. I’d been eyeing it for a while – and finally getting in and discovering floor after floor with art work all the way up to the roof was amazing - with trees growing in the cracked roof, a homeless guy in a dark corner, an ICE train racing by outside the window, kids drinking beer on another roof and everywhere graffiti and the sense of adventures and personal stories lingering.
While I go on most of my “video safaris” alone, when it comes to abandoned buildings I prefer to take a friend, just in case something goes wrong.

RD: You’re back in Berlin now, have you found it hard to adapt to a different way of life, also are the abandoned buildings harder to find there?

It’s been an odd challenge to adjust to Berlin life because in theory I’m German, but I’ve lived in Brooklyn for so long that I identify more with New York culture, but not completely either. I guess I’m an ex-expat. I confuse myself.

Berlin still has quite a few abandoned buildings. But they are disappearing quickly as developers are tearing them down or turning them into lofts. A fascinating set of traditional East Berlin buildings (Plattenbauten) right in the center of the city that are apparently protected from being torn down I haven’t explored yet and hope to do so soon.

Looking through some older photos I realize again how incredibly inspiring and creative life has been for me in Berlin. I think that coming to a new city gives you a real spark to go out and explore and create new things yourself.

RD: "All God's Children", what is that about?

“All God’s Children” is a feature-length documentary I made with my partner Scott Solary. It tells the personal story of the first boarding school for children of Protestant missionaries to be investigated for child abuse at the hands of the parents’ missionary colleagues. You can watch it on the YouTube channel GHWP.

RD: Are you a Pizza or Pasta person?

While I just can’t choose between pasta and pizza, if I had to choose between NY pizza and Berlin pizza, I’d actually have to go with Berlin pizza (the kind you find on Oranienstrasse in Kreuzberg, not even the Italian restaurant kind).

RD: Fill us in on "Good Hard Working People"?

Good Hard Working People is the production company of Scott Solary and myself. Besides documentaries we also produce web series, branded entertainment, music videos and narrative films. I also keep a Good Hard Working People blog, where I try to not just write about our own projects but also about the work of others.

RD: What projects have you got coming up?

I recently finished another feature-length documentary called “All’s Well and Fair”, which juxtaposes the lives and ideals of three single punk rock mothers on welfare during the 1990s with their realities and opinions ten years later. I’m working on getting it out to the public now.

RD: Wow sounds exciting, send us a preview when you get the chance please.

RD: Big up anyone?

I have the greatest admiration for all the gifted street artists who give us their work for free, bringing aesthetics to bleak walls and mostly remain anonymous, which makes it a bit challenging to give them the deserved props in words.

It's been great to sit and talk Luci... Thanks

✭Luci has agreed to do a weekly post for the Collective called "Flesh Cut Fridays", featuring her footage, photos and commentary of her exploits State side and in Berlin... can't wait!

Luci's Site, "Good Hard Working People"... HERE.

Check out "Brooklyn Street Art" and "Graffiti Factory" vids below.

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