Juergen Teller i need to live


Ahead of his monumental exhibition at the Grand Palais Éphémère in Paris, Juergen Teller sits down with fellow artist Anne Imhof to discuss his photography practice and his life’s work.

In a warped world that increasingly operates in a distorted simulation of fillers, Facetune and carefully filtered personal branding, thank God for Juergen Teller. The renowned photographer and artist has made it his life’s work to candidly capture humanity in all its tragicomic glory, often inserting himself in his starkly lit images with triumphant anti-vanity, humour and honesty. Tender and brutal coexist in Teller’s pictures, something which his upcoming exhibition at the Grand Palais Éphémère puts front and centre. Titled Juergen Teller – i need to live, it gives a blow-by-blow of the photographer’s life without pulling any punches, taking the viewer through the transformative events that have shaped his life and work with new and existing pieces of photography, video and installations. Death and birth run parallel in the exhibition – his biggest to date – that ultimately encourages you to choose life, nurtured in great part by Teller’s profound relationship with his wife and partner in art, Dovile Drizyte. In the lead-up to the opening, Juergen Teller asked his close friend, artist Anne Imhof, to join him for a conversation about his thoughts behind the show and its defiant title. Here is the transcript of their exchange.

Anne Imhof: Hi! I see you guys!

Juergen Teller: We can’t see you. Oh, we see you!

Dovile Drizyte : You are in classic black! Oh my gosh, you dressed up for this!

JT: Totally!

AI: I should have dressed up for you! I wanted to welcome you better Juergen. I know that you get kind of nervous if it’s too cool. How are you?

DD : Crazy!

JT: We are good. We had a bit of flu, kind of a cold hanging over, eve- rybody in Europe has it.

AI: Oh, it’s good that I’m not in Europe right now.

JT: When did you escape?

AI: I came here about a week ago.

DD: I just want to say that we are recording this. It goes straight to Jo Barker’s archive!

AI: Okay, to make this official, I am here in Los Angeles, Juergen is in

London, it’s 12.47PM Pacific Standard Time in my home and it’s 8.47PM Greenwich Mean Time. We are having a conversation over Zoom for Re-Edition’s December issue and Juergen has a major retrospective of his work at the Grand Palais, opening to the public on December 16th. So that’s why we are talking.

JT: That’s right. I thought that was a good idea, to ask you. AI: Yeah, I was happy.
JT: Good.

AI: I always get a bit nervous when things are recorded and then they go somewhere... I’ve known you for a while and consider you as a friend and it’s something to do with a friend, it’s different. I thought about how to start with that and when I was writing to you over SMS about what you wanted to talk about you wrote back, ‘The feeling of being content’. And I was like, wow. I felt there’s a need for something in that and I saw that also in your title of the show, i need to live, so I wanted to start basically with how we met each other. It was interesting the way you came into my life, and you re-entered always at points that were super important for me. We met in 2012 I think and I had just graduated and you were doing Zeit magazine about Frankfurt and I remember that we were meeting at Pik Dame. You were sitting there with your people, your assistants and stuff, and you were sitting under this fake Jenny Saville, like a big woman, in a red velvet room. It was a place I was going in and out of because I was living there and where we hung out all the time, and then I saw you there and while we were going through the streets of the red light district of Frankfurt to my studio you were taking photographs of everything, and also in the bar. And I was like, ‘Wow, he finds it inter- esting, the things I see every day’. You were taking everything in and I was like, ‘Wow, how much can he take in and hold’. We were going to my studio and I remember I was kind of nervous and curious about you and what would happen and you started taking those couple of pictures of me and I felt like super safe in this moment. I hadn’t experienced something like this before and it was so different than I expected. I felt from you that there was love in the room. I thought, he loves women. Like, me, a bit. There was a really beautiful thing happening for me.

Juergen Teller- Father and Son, Bubenreuth, 2003
Juergen Teller- Father and Son, Bubenreuth, 2003

JT: And we did some pictures in this café. Plank or something?

AI: Yes, Plank, on the street of this crossing. I lived right above that.

JT: Yeah, I really enjoyed the whole thing and I really enjoyed meeting you. It just felt good and it felt right, you know.

AI: I also remember we met one time in Paris and there was a shoot coming up of Comme des Garçons that didn’t happen in the end but you wanted to get me in, photograph me, because it was about punk, and I remember that I was like, ‘Oh, Juergen thinks I’m a punk, okay, that’s kind of cool’. (laughs)

JT: Yeah, that was a time when you were first coming to Paris a little bit and going to maybe have a place there.

I looked through this camera, this square thing, and I thought, ‘Oh my god, for the first time in my life, I see something’ - Juergen Teller

AI: Exactly, I had this grant there. I had a studio there for a year or something. But I was thinking about how it felt there was a need of yours to take the world in somehow. It’s a question that’s pretty simple but when did you feel that the first time, wanting to become an artist?

JT: I don’t know about an artist but I felt – you know, I used to be a bowmaker for violins because my father and my grandfather and my great-grandfather, they were doing bridges for the double bass and cellos and violins. It’s a small village which is now the Czech Republic, so it’s Sudetenland, and after the war they had to move and in the vil- lage that’s what they do, they do guitars, violins, parts for instruments. And then I wanted to be a bowmaker, anyway, cut the story short, I did that for a year, it was so much hard work and I had sort of psycho- somatic reactions to the wood dust and had super heavy asthma. It came up after one year during an apprenticeship of three years and I couldn’t breathe anymore. The doctor sent me to get a change of air and I went to Tuscany on a holiday and my cousin had a camera and I looked through this camera, this square thing, and I thought, ‘Oh my god, for the first time in my life, I see something’. Like the first time you are aware of music or the first time you eat sushi or something, some sensation. Before you walk around in the world as a teenager or as a young man and you don’t see anything. But this square thing made me super curious about the world and I think that’s when it really started. And then within my own work, or within this assignment, or when we met in Frankfurt, then I get really super hyper concentrated on what’s around me. It could be this beautiful kebab, or this person or that person. And then I get really super awake. When I go on holiday with Dovile, then it’s just a holiday. We take care of each other and the kid and that’s not necessarily work. You read a book and you relax and da-da-da, but then of course when I do have an idea for a project, then it starts again – phases where you are super concentrated. I believe I’m a curious, naïve person in a way who jumps into the cold water to do things, you know? Like an adventurous little boy who does things. Which I find exciting.

AI: Whenever I had the chance to see you in those moments of work or moments where you are in this state I had the feeling you see eve- rything... It’s very democratic, you don’t make any distinctions between what’s important or what’s good and what’s not good and I felt this also very much when you did the portraits of me. I had the feeling there isn’t one moment that is worse than the other, also in terms of the objects and the people in the world. But how do you make choices? Both in the moment, about what to shoot or not to shoot, and then in the editing process, afterwards?

JT: Now in a way when I’m older and I know what I’m doing and I’m more secure and everything, I know pretty much what I want and I know when it’s good. I’m not swimming around. Like, for example, we do a portrait and I’m very open in the scenario with a person, everything is nearly there, everything is really good but for some stupid reason that I can’t quite figure out it doesn’t quite click but I keep doing it to loosen up that moment with that person and myself and I’m also quite open to saying, ‘Ah, it doesn’t quite work and I don’t quite know why’. And then maybe we get a coffee or we do something else, and then something happens. And then I’m like a wild animal in a bush and go ‘Ahhh, that’s it, stay like this, do this, now we have it’, and I fucking nail it.

AI: I always found it very admirable when I worked with you and we talked about the process of your work that it has to do with intuition a lot, and also this intuition that can be very directed but you leave the things very open. You don’t walk in with a concept. I didn’t feel like I was in a plan. It was a situation that was open, like me when I work, doing things out of your intuitive, artistic inner feeling. I had the feeling it was going step by step. Everything is open and also kind of exciting but it’s also fucking threatening.

JT: Oh, scary – scary for me. It’s nerve-racking. So often I’m nervous and I also rely on the subject, I rely on the person and what kind of conversa- tion we have and where it’s going, to the left or to the right. And then the weather comes into play, certain scenarios come into play, and every- thing, really. But I have to say, I’m extremely fast assessing the situation and changing it. If something doesn’t quite work, I change it really quickly into something else and I think I don’t tire the person. Then I’m really fast. And quite precise.

AI: It’s actually an incredible skill. You have this almost magical power that you can turn things around. Even the images that come out of it, they could be embarrassing if you were embarrassed. Like a situation that got out of control but you go with it. I was always thinking, Juergen is taking all the risks that there are. Even in choosing the images in the end. I feel when I’m working with dancers or performers that there is a moment when this can be super scary – to be together in a room, you don’t know yet what’s happening, you go this way, you go into a situa- tion you create together, in the moment. I had the feeling you have a similar way of working but you are so reckless (chuckles) in how you do this. You leave the space where everything feels safe and you go some- where and then you create a completely new thing and you kind of – in Germany we say entgleisen, let it derail in a way that is so freeing for everybody involved because nobody is feeling their embarrassment will still be embarrassing when the walls fall down and it’s open to the public, because you can also say, ‘Hey, that’s what we do’. And then you create something that becomes a new standard of how things could be. And for me, this is what your work was about when I was a young kid that went to art school in the first place, like ’99, 2000. I was obsessed by seeing your work and seeing it being like that and being open. Go-Sees, for example, the book you made in, was it in ‘98?

JT: ‘88/89

Juergen Teller- Raquel Zimmermann and Charlotte Rampling, Paradis XVIII, 2009
Juergen Teller- Raquel Zimmermann and Charlotte Rampling, Paradis XVIII, 2009

AI: This whole project, it was as if the girls that came to your door and the situations that you had with them, it was 20 minutes maybe or five, but then they came to me. It was transporting something completely dif- ferent. It was such a beautiful experience for me and it still is. I revisited some of the pictures before today because I wanted to go back to this moment where it struck me so hard. That was the starting point for me. JT: It was for me also the starting point where I thought about photogra- phy in a different way, as sort of conceptional, that it could be more than a picture here, a picture there.

AI: And taking the risks and leaving the space that’s safe also has to do with leaving your home and what’s familiar to you. Was that a decision you took, to leave the place you grew up and also leaving your appren- ticeship? I mean, you left to go to the UK, right?

JT: In ’86, yeah. Because I didn’t want to go to the army. And I didn’t want to do civilian service either. I studied photography in Munich for two years and it was so exciting for me, photography, that if I’d done ci- vilian service I would have fucked it up. I would not have had that drive. And then I realised in school I didn’t give a shit about English because I thought, I’m from this small village, I’m going to be a bowmaker, who cares about English? (Chuckles) And I suddenly realised, ‘Ooh, I want to see the world, I want to travel the world, I better learn English’ (chuck- les). Quite frankly America was too far and too weird so I just drove my car to England with my camera. (laughs)

You know, back in the day everything was slower. Everything was naïve and innocent. Juergen Teller

AI: It’s interesting because you still chose a place where there is some sea between you and Germany and you and the village. I know that your mum still lives there and you go and visit her often but thinking about you and how you left that place and where you’re coming from, I could relate to this – it’s a long fucking way from where you were to today.

JT: Yes.

AI: To be able to do that there are a lot of things in between and some- times to go that far there has to be an ocean in between.

JT: That’s what I mean when I said earlier about the sort of naivety. I had this total urge not to do the army, not to do civilian service, and I needed to learn English and I needed to leave and I just took my car, had my cameras, and I did not know a fucking single person in England. And I couldn’t speak English. I could just say, (puts on pronounced German accent) ‘This is red, my car is blue’. That was it. It was totally ridiculous.

AI: And was it a blue car?

JT: No, it was a red car, actually (chuckles). If I think back it’s insanity. You would be like, oh my God, what am I doing? You wouldn’t do it when you’re older. It’s totally crazy. I did not know a single person, couldn’t speak English and I was there.

AI: How did it happen then, your first work situation with photography?

T: Well, that was the beautiful thing. It took me a long time getting my head around talking a little bit of English because I’m a little bit dyslexic. Visually I’m there but languages I’m not good at. At that time in the mid- eighties there were still these record covers. And these album sleeves are like art pieces.

AI: Absolutely. AI: This whole project, it was as if the girls that came to your door and the situations that you had with them, it was 20 minutes maybe or five, but then they came to me. It was transporting something completely dif- ferent. It was such a beautiful experience for me and it still is. I revisited some of the pictures before today because I wanted to go back to this moment where it struck me so hard. That was the starting point for me. JT: It was for me also the starting point where I thought about photogra- phy in a different way, as sort of conceptional, that it could be more than a picture here, a picture there.

AI: And taking the risks and leaving the space that’s safe also has to do with leaving your home and what’s familiar to you. Was that a decision you took, to leave the place you grew up and also leaving your appren- ticeship? I mean, you left to go to the UK, right?

JT: In ’86, yeah. Because I didn’t want to go to the army. And I didn’t want to do civilian service either. I studied photography in Munich for two years and it was so exciting for me, photography, that if I’d done ci- vilian service I would have fucked it up. I would not have had that drive. And then I realised in school I didn’t give a shit about English because I thought, I’m from this small village, I’m going to be a bowmaker, who cares about English? (Chuckles) And I suddenly realised, ‘Ooh, I want to see the world, I want to travel the world, I better learn English’ (chuck- les). Quite frankly America was too far and too weird so I just drove my English was still very, very slight and I worked with this stylist called Si-mon Foxton who was brilliant, for i-D magazine, and he suddenly camewith all these black muscly guys, really buff, and I was like, wow, this ismaybe even scarier than the girls. But it was a beautiful learning pro-cess of understanding and playing around. You know, back in the dayeverything was slower. Everything was naïve and innocent. Where nowa photographer immediately wants an advertising job and immediatelythinks they’re the greatest and takes everything that’s done before andthings like that. Back in the day it was so slow and it was kind of goodthat it was so slow.

AI: It’s interesting to me that the first things were the covers. The covers of a record can be the most iconic thing in the world.

JT: Totally.

AI: The cover comes out, the music is almost playing the background music to the cover, or the cover is giving the personality. It’s the door to the artist. Especially in those times when there wasn’t such a quick turnaround in music.

JT: Yes, and I remember I went from my village into town, into Erlangen, and would go into this shop, and very often I bought records I didn’t know who the fuck it was. Because the cover looked so great. You didn’t have much money but you had to have that cover and the music was good. Never got it wrong!

Juergen Teller- Self-portrait with Snow White, Bubenreuth, 2002
Juergen Teller- Self-portrait with Snow White, Bubenreuth, 2002
Juergen Teller- Kurt in studio, London, 2023
Juergen Teller- Kurt in studio, London, 2023
Juergen Teller- Saint Laurent legs in studio, London, 2023
Juergen Teller- Saint Laurent legs in studio, London, 2023
Juergen Teller- Forest No. 93, South Tyrol, 2020
Juergen Teller- Forest No. 93, South Tyrol, 2020
Juergen Teller- Iggy Pop No.23, Miami, 2022
Juergen Teller- Iggy Pop No.23, Miami, 2022

AI: I was revisiting those Nirvana tour images and me spending my twenties in Frankfurt, these images were earlier, I think. Those images eapt into pop culture so fast, and so this was this whole idea of how life can be. I didn’t think of it as, oh, that’s photography, that’s a record cover, that’s a story in a fashion magazine. It was all images that were opening a world for me. It was a way for me to get out of the little German town to a bigger town. I needed to live the freedom even before I knew what it was about. I feel that still when I look at these tour images. You were in the middle of all that. You must have been with them all the time?

JT: I met them at Heathrow and we flew together to Berlin and then Berlin to Hamburg, and then Frankfurt and Munich.

AI: So it was a Germany tour?

JT: Yeah, and at that time, I was so poor. I remember it was November and it was dreadful weather and I had no money and I suddenly got this phone call from an American magazine to photograph this band, and it was Nirvana and I called these guys from i-D and The Face and it was just before Nevermind came out but they played Nevermind and I said ‘Hey, what about this band?’ Most of them hadn’t even heard of them. I thought, ‘I don’t fucking care, I’m leaving this country and it gives me a free pass to visit a friend in Berlin, my cousin in Hamburg, a friend in Frankfurt and then in Munich I’m back at my mum’s’.

Yeah. And he(Francis Bacon)had this seminal, super important show at the Grand Palais in 1971 I think. Afterwards I was coming out of the Pompidou and that’s when Dovile said, ‘You’re going to have a show at the Grand Palais one day.’ And I was like, ‘Don’t be so stupid.’ Juergen Teller

AI: So it was your tour as well.

JT: Yes, it was! Details magazine had budget at the time, so I earned a little money. And I was fucking blown away. Already at Heathrow airport I thought, ‘Oh my God, those guys, that’s something’. And then when we got to Berlin first we went to the soundcheck. I had no idea what their mu- sic was like. I was like, fuck, this is incredible. And then a couple of hours later at the concert when everybody was there, hearing it again back to back live, it was like [makes a sound of head exploding], it opened my mind, it had a huge impact on me.

AI: Also on me, not only the music but Kurt Cobain and the way he carried his figure and the view of the public. Somehow it resonates a lot, still now. You said there was an urge in you. I feel this is how art is made. It wants out of you. It has to be. And now, no matter if it’s a commercial job or...

JT: Yes. Instinct and urge to do. Totally.

AI: When I was 18, the first song I bought, there was this need. I was float- ing around with music, with images. It was a constant negotiation of the direction. This need for something was always there, and the urge to go somewhere. When I read your exhibition title it’s so beautiful because you feel like you’re part of your life story when you read them, and they read like a poem. I remember we met in 2016, it was right after I met Eliza, you had a shoot for Man About Town and Lotta Volkova was doing the styling.

JT: Yes, yes.

AI: And Eliza and I both ended up in this shoot. Okay, she was a model and was doing Balenciaga.

JT: That was the beginning of Balenciaga, right?

AI: Exactly. It was 2016. I had just met her and I was doing Angst at the time, that piece, and I was like, I don’t have time, but I’ll do it if you come and photograph my show. I wanted there to be a trade between us. And then there was the shoot and we went to this motorhome in the suburbs of Paris and you had this Kunsthalle Bonn show and you met Eliza and I in his situation of being crazy in love and then we ended up without clothes in this motorhome and you photographed us. There were all these people around us and you were taking photos and we were making out on the floor and I was like, that felt actually pretty good. I felt super safe. And then there was this exhibition and was there something with ‘need’ or ‘life’ in there as well?

JT: Yes, yes – ‘enjoy your life’.

AI: Exactly! Our image suddenly in an art show, blown up. It’s amazing how an image travels from you, from a shoot. I was so proud it was on the cover of a men’s magazine.

JT: (chuckles)

AI: You made me so happy with that. (laughs) And then these images are your work and you put them in a show with other images and suddenly they tell another story. They don’t tell the story of clothes anymore or this cool location or the editorial. It’s a story about two people in love and I had this feeling when I heard about your show at the Grand Palais – I mean, it’s THE show an artist can have. The Ritterschlag [the knighting], you know? Die Krönung [the coronation].

JT: You know, if I can say something?

AI: Yeah.

JT: When I started going out with Dovile, and I can’t quite remember... [Dovile speaks in the background]

JT: Oh yes! We went together to the Pompidou in 2016, to the Francis Bacon exhibition, and we were like...

AI: Blown away.

JT: Yeah. And he had this seminal, super important show at the Grand Palais in 1971 I think. Afterwards I was coming out of the Pompidou and that’s when Dovile said, ‘You’re going to have a show at the Grand Palais one day.’ And I was like, ‘Don’t be so stupid.’ (laughs) ‘That’s not gonna happen’. And she was like, ‘I’m going to promise you, it’s going to happen. Believe it’. I kind of completely forgot about it and now it’s happening! Fucking amazing. (chuckles)

DD: Let me know what you would like, give me a couple of years! (laughs)

AI: Dovile and you, when you just met, we were together in Paris with Eliza, I remember you telling me, ‘Hey, I want you to meet somebody, I just met her and I’m so in love’. We were going for dinner and I was think- ing, this is such a special moment because through love there is an abil- ity to unleash power in us. I was with Eliza and there was dark romcom between us and I was looking at it like, this is beautiful. I saw something in your relationship that’s so powerful. And this show, Dovile may have wished it but it’s your entire oeuvre and your brilliant work that brought you there and it comes to a very important time. How did the title come about?

Juergen Teller- Dovile pregnant, London, 2023
Juergen Teller- Dovile pregnant, London, 2023

JT: Well, let me tell you how the show starts. I had to make an archi- tectural plan, of course, how you walk around it, and it starts with four photographs. One is of a photograph that my father took of me as a baby and when I discovered that picture I thought, it really could look like Iggy.

AI: I thought the same thing!

JT: Also, the way I photograph is how my father photographs. It’s direct. That’s the first photograph. The second photograph, I rephotographed a newspaper article from 1988 where my father killed himself. He killed him- self in a car and he drove against a tree and it’s the car crash and there’s a fireman and there’s a little text about it. It’s a heavy photograph and it’s going to be next to it. And then there’s a picture of my mum, kind of absurd, in a crocodile head, it’s about the horror of life but also the comi- cal side of life. And then next to it is a black and white photograph of me naked on my dad’s grave with a football and a cigarette and a beer. So this is the first thing you see in the show. It starts with me and my father’s suicide and I go really fast now, brrrrrrr, all around it, and it kind of ends up with our wedding and the pregnancy and we did this project called The Myth, did you see that?

AI: Yeah.

JT: With the legs up. And then the birth. And then we did this Iggy celebra- tion in Sicily that you unfortunately couldn’t come to, and that is wild. You can choose my dad’s way or to live. And I feel I really need to live. I need to live for my wife, for my kids, and for my work. I need to live. I thought it was a really powerful title!. But I really mean it sincerely. You have the re- sponsibility completely in your hands of where your life goes. This way or that way. That’s why I chose that title. We were working on this whole thing and I was ill again and I was struggling with the flu and I slightly felt better and we haven’t been drinking for a long time and I grabbed a cigarette to kind of feel alive again and Dovile kind of nagged me, ‘Don’t smoke!’ And

It’s a big deal. The show is a big deal. Life when you decide is a big deal. Life is good as a concept but then when you’re in it you have to decide every fucking day to survive it. Anne Imhof

I said, ‘I need to live! (laughs) I need to feel alive!’ And she immediately said, ‘Oh my god, that’s the title of your show’. And I thought, really? And then we thought about it and said YES.

AI: It’s a big deal. The show is a big deal. Life when you decide is a big deal. Life is good as a concept but then when you’re in it you have to decide every fucking day to survive it. I can relate to that there is a drive that also brings us to the dark side or there’s a side where I have to really make myself be alive. To create art is also a decision to do that.

JT: Yeah.

AI: It’s survival. It was the only way for me to survive was to become an artist.

JT: I understand.

AI: I think your decision to give the show that title, and the show, is a nar- ration of that. Each image is kind of a proof of being alive. Until Iggy and the celebration of a new life. When I looked at the floor plan of the show I loved the way you have arranged it. I read that you worked with an archi- tect that also built your studio.

JT: I really like Tom Emerson, the architect, and I’m super happy with my studio.

AI: It’s also knowing your work.

JT: Knowing my work, and he was able to listen to me with what I wanted out of the studio, and when I didn’t know what I wanted he was very sensitive to put some ideas across and it felt really good. We thought for a long time about how we were going to structure the whole thing. Thomas Weski, the curator, he’s also a very lovely man and very knowledgeable and very good, I was working with him for a long time on this project and I suddenly said to Tom Emerson, ‘Do you know what? All this stuff that we are doing, I don’t know, it’s not quite right, I kind of wanted a long wall, I wanted it to feel like a film, like a book where it goes on and on and on. Where there’s a beginning, there’s a middle and an end. Like a symphony, like a song.’ Not like, there’s a little box here, there’s a little box here, there’s something detached, some other project. I want it to feel fluid because I’m quite fluid – doing my person- al work, next week I’m doing some Saint Laurent stuff, then I photograph Dovile, duh-duh-duh, you know what I mean? That’s what I like and that’s my strength and that’s how we came to it. And that’s when he said, ‘Why don’t we just go, boom, boom, and then it actually ends up as a cross.’

AI: I find that having the space basically dissected two times, and you mimic the architecture but then you tilt it so it’s not quite symmetrical, but it still gives that huge space so people will walk back and forth, seeing the photographs almost like a strip. I find that super beautiful and smart because also you start with your life, and let’s say the last photograph you spoke about, that’s you on the grave of your dad and you have your foot on this football and you have a beer and a cigarette and you’re naked, this image is so strong for me and very touching. When I discov- ered it in the press release I thought it had something from this moment where you grabbed the cigarette and said, I’m alive and I’m breathing the air here and this is how to make it visible. There’s something in it – even though smoking is unhealthy – that makes that kind of pretty visible and then it’s a rebellious act, on the other hand it’s acknowledging that you’re fragile and vulnerable in your own self. I saw in the press release that you are also showing videos. I was interested in it because I don’t  know your video work so well. I looked at this one video you did, one with Kate Moss, reciting the text from Shannon Peckham, a beautiful text, and the video is called Can I Own Myself. It’s basically a question about us all. It questions actually how images are done, how they relate and where do they go and what they do to each other and who owns them. With that comes a whole political question mark as well. There’s one sentence, you go through the whole thing and it’s clear it’s about desire, it’s about images, and also in a way how Kate is delivering the text, as if she’s trying to understand and remember. (chuckles) And it’s beautiful the way she recites it. And then in the end she says, desire is always a desire for ownership. But some things can never be owned. I was very touched by this. On the one hand about the work itself, but also about your way of dealing with photography itself. The text says that the image can make another image as money can make more money, but it can also cancel each other out. In your career you make a lot of images and the core of this, what goes through them, for me, is this immense respect for the people you photograph. You photograph a lot of women. For me that is one thing that this work also speaks about, about her and her position and how she is relating to her own images and the images that are made for her and what they are creating again and whose de- sire it is and for whom it is. How you speak in your fashion photography about women, I find it a super singular way to make images. I know it’s not really a question but there is a way of involving women in your work that is specific to how you work, I think, like your iconic photographs, Kristen McMenamy, Björk with her son, Charlotte Rampling, these im- ages that are super iconic. I can’t get bored by hearing you talk about them. But now there’s also Dovile coming into your life. Can you talk a bit about this? What is the work you first did with Dovile and what did it feel like?

JT: In a way, Dovile does two things or she does everything. It first start- ed – she was living in New York and I was living here and I have my studio here now and I have two children here and everything and for me it was impossible, I didn’t want to go to New York. So it had to be that she come to London and she had to give up her job and had to give up, frankly, her life for me and I had her kind of jumping into the cold water. And she was like, ‘What am I going to do here? I’m not going to be a housewife, sitting in London doing nothing’. I kind of thought, I think maybe we could work together. At first on the business side. She got the business in a much better shape than it ever was. She is in a way my business partner, my creative partner, my agent, my everything.

AI: It started almost with a management perspective?

JT: Yes, that’s how it started. And little did we both know that I was able, I guess, through us being together, to unlock something in her, like her creative side and her sensitivity towards that. It was really interesting and I thought, I want to photograph her, but I couldn’t figure out a way of photographing her at the beginning because we were living our life together and I didn’t want to fuck it up. Some people you don’t need to know. You go there, you photograph them, you nail them, you do what you want to do with them. When something is so important to you, you don’t want to do a nice picture here or this or the other, it felt really com- plicated for me because it was frankly too important for me.

AI: Also, do you want to share that, you know? To make a picture in this way is also sharing your life with the public.

JT: Yes, so there is for example not really ever much of our house. I don’t show anything sort of private in a way. But then Dovile had this idea to go to Iran over Christmas. It was in 2019.

Juergen Teller- Jurgaičiai, Lithuania, 2022
Juergen Teller- Jurgaičiai, Lithuania, 2022
Dovile makes me more me, with everything. And of course, people at the beginning were like, whoa, what’s going on now? They thought I was theirs. And now suddenly we were together. Juergen Teller

AI: I remember that.

JT: We were there for two and a half weeks. I didn’t want to do any sort of tourist pictures in Iran, I didn’t know what to photograph, some Chinese tourist with long lenses photographing everything, the typical tourist stuff. And I photographed everything on an iPhone. You had to be dressed in a certain way, the coat below your knees and cover up your hair and things like that, and we had this Iranian guide, this woman, who was very, very good and very humorous, and we had this idea: what about wearing a chador? We discussed it with the guide, whether it was appropriate and so on and [Dovile] became this different person in this place and she also kept this appearance up and put on this black liner, how they have their make-up, and she was holding herself in a com- pletely different way. That was the first project we did together. For three days straight it felt like, that’s not my girlfriend anymore, it’s a different person. Also the way she behaved during the day. In the morning she put on that armour and we carried it around and when we went to bed she took it off and became herself again. That was a really beautiful mo- ment of us working together and through that strange diversion of this chador, everything fell into place and that was how I could suddenly pho- tograph however we wanted to photograph each other. And something broke free. And then we started doing these projects together.

AI: So you are actually creative partners know? What you describe, pho- tographing each other. Remember that shoot we did in Berlin which was also for Re-Edition? Dovile and you came and you said, ‘Oh, this is all too cool, the clothes are so cool and you are holding yourselves cool.’ It was mainly Balenciaga and it was me and Eliza, we felt a bit invincible as well and you said, ‘Hey, I want to shoot Dovile with you guys’, and you thought of this idea of having her naked in the pictures with us. And suddenly this whole thing twisted and became something completely different. And there I saw the two of you working together in this way.

JT: Yes, yes, yes.

AI: And it was very, very beautiful to see that because there was a very shared understanding of the authorship inside that thing. Inside of the moment of creation, let’s say, and I loved that. I love creating like that. It’s like having a band. No one can do something without each other.

JT: Yes, yes, yes.

AI: It was pulling me in. You guys basically decided on something that also allowed you to stay together. Because your life – you’re travelling a lot of the time and if you didn’t work together you would be separated from each other. When Eliza and I met each other it was a bit naïve. We did not know anything that was coming. Eliza was also saying to me, ‘You will do the German Pavilion’, long before I knew about it (laughs). But it was also a moment where we decided on working together, or she performed in my work, because we wanted to be together, period. And I see you and Dovile doing something quite daring, because people must have been like, what are they doing? Why is he questioning his whole career of decades? And you decided to work together the two of you and say no, it’s not something that takes away from this, it adds to it.

JT: Yes, I mean, Dovile makes me more me, with everything. And of course, people at the beginning were like, whoa, what’s going on now? They thought I was theirs. And now suddenly we were together. And I’m sure people questioned it a lot but it very quickly turned very convinc- ing that Dovile is extremely good psychologically. She studied political science and I’m amazed how she can talk to clients or people, for their good and for my good. I haven’t got a good example but she’s amaz- ingly sensitive about how to get things done. We just understand each other and sometimes I’m still shy and I have to say to her, ‘What about this?’ For example, we were in this hotel in the summer, we wanted to get pregnant and it was this beautiful hotel and I thought, ‘Why don’t you put your legs up’. I took this picture and I thought, ‘Oh my god, this looks so romantic, it looks so beautiful’. And then I had this idea, let’s go to every single hotel room they have, and they have 94 rooms, so me, my- self, I would have been too shy to talk to the hotel manager, like, ‘Hey, I want to go in all your rooms and...’ (chuckles) but Dovile has a way of explaining it and not even saying what we’re doing. They didn’t even ask. The only thing they asked was, we don’t want to see any violence. They gave us the whole hotel and we photographed a whole week in there. It was beautiful.

AI: Yeah, it’s very beautiful. It’s a very romantic work and I think it’s incredible how the two of you managed to keep each other safe in open- ing up your relationship like this to the public, also through the images. When you started photographing Dovile it also started something, I think. And it’s not easy to do that. Out of my experience people don’t really want that. Artists should be by themselves because they’re way easier to manipulate (chuckles).

JT: Yes!

AI: Whenever there’s a collaboration and people can’t really track any- more who’s who and what is owned by whom they get nervous about it. And also they get nervous about the power that’s unleashed by...

JT: I mean, we are much stronger now.

AI: Do you want to talk about the feeling of consent that you mentioned to me?

JT: Content. (laughs) You know, before you are always sort of anxious or looking for something. I just feel very... we both feel very content with each other. When you wake up in the morning, you feel good, you feel safe. You might have a shit day here or there or the work is complicated or something goes wrong. You know, that’s the normal stuff in life, but not to have any other desire for something else. That is incredibly beauti- ful what we did together with having Iggy. I’m nearly 60 years old and I was really questioning, do I need another child? Of course I don’t. And I’m older and I have two kids already. But it’s the best thing Dovile and I did. And I’m calmer now. I can see things from a more relaxed standpoint because I’m in a safe, excellent, good relationship. I can enjoy things. I can talk to Dovile about anything. We have conversations. We do boring things. We cook together, we work together. We have adventures to- gether. It’s so exciting doing things together. That’s what I mean by con- tent. Going to the market together, buying some fish. In the rain it can be a drag or when you’re doing it together it can be good. Everything really.

AI: Would you say you’ve kind of arrived somewhere?

JT: Yeah. Yes.

AI: I had to look up content because (chuckles) I have no recollection of hearing that or being affected by it. What does it mean? Oh, it means something like zufriedenheit [satisfaction] but not in this...

Juergen Teller- Raquel Zimmermann, Paradis XIV, 2009
Juergen Teller- Raquel Zimmermann, Paradis XIV, 2009ù
Juergen Teller- Lars Eidinger, London, 2016
Juergen Teller- Lars Eidinger, London, 2016
When Charlotte Rampling saw these self-portraits she suddenly woke up and said ‘Okay, wow, you’re doing this with yourself? Let’s go.’ So it completely opened doors for me with the brave. Juergen Teller

JT: Inner peace. Inner peace or something.

AI: Yeah, and that’s what I saw the first time I saw you together. There was some inner peace going on even though you were madly in love and crazy about each other and Iggy was not yet there and yet there was this peacefulness there. I remember you said something about you saw Dovile standing in a doorway, a threshold, one place to another, and you saw her and said, ‘This will change my life’.

JT: Dovile said that. I was standing there (chuckles) and she walked through and said this is going to change her life.

AI: Oh, that’s even better. I was also thinking, the thing we talked about at the beginning, the go-sees and these photos of the girls that came to your studio, on the threshold of the doorway, there is something about a threshold that is very meaningful in an image but also in life. And you go and step over something and sometimes you can’t go back. I was going through the images and I saw faces like Mariacarla, people that were babies back then but are now supermodels. I know her through Riccardo Tisci and when we did this Burberry campaign and fashion show during the pandemic and he asked you to do it. I think Riccardo also works amazingly intuitively. I think after you he was the person in fashion that became some kind of mentor to me, how he dealt with peo- ple, how respectfully he dealt with women, especially. I met Mariacarla there, in this forest, and somehow Riccardo and I stayed friends and he introduced me to all these people. It’s such a singular position you have because you also stayed friends with all of these people. It’s kind of an incredible achievement to do that and be this cross between a lot of lives and people. And it was also for me and Eliza an important moment to be shot together in this beautiful moment of a kiss, you know. And I think the show you have now brings a lot of these things together. And Paris must be for you like your second home.

JT: Yeah.

AI: And Anthony [Vaccarello] who is involved with Yves Saint Laurent and you have this friendship and collaboration.

JT: I love working with Anthony because he is so precise of what he wants. And I’m really thankful he’s supporting my show. Tomorrow we go to Steidl, to Göttingen, and we print five books. Four new books and a catalogue for it. We’re going to be there all week in Göttingen, working on it.

AI: Steidl, when I met him at your wedding, I thought he was the scariest man I’ve ever met (laughs)

JT: (laughs)

AI: I just said ‘Hey, hi’, because I knew who he was. He was just staring at me, in this, who are you kind of way, you know? (chuckles) I know that you’ve been working with him for so many years and I read that you did 40 books in 20 years which is insane. This show is kind of like a huuuuge book that’s unfolding all over the Grand Palais. But there will also be books in the show, right?

JT: We are making 50 vitrines, so what’s not on the wall will be on differ- ent stages of the place and there will be also within the vitrines new figu- rations where I’ve conceptualised certain things together again. Other things will be certain books that I have laid out, so yeah, 50 vitrines, that’s fucking a lot. They’re all wood and have little.... Beine – legs! We painted [the legs] fluorescent pink, which is like my pink shorts kind of thing. I think you haven’t seen everything yet. I will show five videos.

AI: Can you say something about the video works?

JT: One is me being filmed for 94 minutes watching the World Cup final, Germany against Brazil. And we’re losing two-nil and it’s sort of devas- tating and it gets worse and worse and worse and by the end of it it sort of reminds me of my aggressive dad because I’m screaming against the television, ‘What the fuck, what the fuuuuck are you doing!’

AI: I love that.

JT: How I show the go-sees is kind of a pavilion where it’s a three-part projection where one go-see comes up and the next one comes up and the next one, so they’re coming and going on three screens.

AI: This is beautiful. Like a slideshow.

JT: Yeah, and on three different screens. Because I’ve showed these go-sees as they are as photographs many times I wanted to think of something else. And then opposite, which is like this pavilion, I made a go-see movie which is half an hour.

AI: Is it original camera takes from back then?

JT: It is. First for a year I did the pictures and then I thought, oh my god, this is so good, I wish I would have filmed also, so three months later after I had the book I did a movie about it. It’s half an hour long, done with this sort of cheap video cassette tape at the time.
AI: Oh wow, this is amazing.

Juergen Teller- Vivienne Westwood No.1, London, 2009
Juergen Teller- Vivienne Westwood No.1, London, 2009

JT: Yes, and I ask the models questions – it’s the same, on the door and coming a step in and coming out – and I ask them certain questions and then I gave them a chance to have the camera and film me and ask me questions. I wanted to be democratic about it.

AI: Can you say a question you would ask them?

JT: Uh, I can’t remember now. (Pause) Not off the top of my head, I can’t.

AI: Do you remember a question they asked you?

JT: You will see in the video (Chuckles) It’s a very enjoyable piece of half an hour, I would say. And I had long hair and a super moustache.

AI: It’s so present in your work, yourself in the image. There is a notion of self-portraiture in every image you create, I think, as an artist. It’s a self-portraiture within the picture you’re creating. Long before selfies. Photographing yourself has become a term that’s basically written in the machinery of digital image making.

JT: You know how it really started? It’s when I photographed certain models and actors and actresses where I suddenly sensed that at that moment I kind of didn’t want to deal with any neuroses of vanity any- more. I thought, well, how does it feel like to be photographed by me? How is it? And what can I learn from it and where can I go with it? And then I’m like, well, I’m curious what it’s going to look like. It was a really important step for me when I started these self-portraits and immediately I felt – you know, I started actually at my mum’s place in the countryside, in the forest, and I didn’t have an assistant so I had my school friends. I called them up and said ‘Hey, can you come over and help me with some things?’

AI: Can you recall what year it was?

JT: 2000, I think. I just said, hold the camera like this, lean it a little bit over there and go a bit closer and do this and this. I felt like I know what the lens is doing, how I’m sitting, how I’m doing, I felt immediately, that doesn’t feel good. And I knew when I’m doing this, this is going to be a good picture. Go a little bit further away, do this and this. I had a good sense of the environment, what the camera does and how I would feel when instinctively it works. And also how far I could go with my own self. When Charlotte Rampling saw these self-portraits she suddenly woke up and said ‘Okay, wow, you’re doing this with yourself? Let’s go.’ So it completely opened doors for me with the brave. You see what I mean?

AI: Was that a reason why she agreed to be in those pictures? It was a campaign shoot, no?

JT: It was for Marc Jacobs in the beginning. Then I wanted to go on further.

AI: Because it doesn’t feel like it has anything to do with clothes (chuck-les).

JT: No, that’s the next project I did.

AI: Okay.

JT: It started with a little bit of clothes and then I asked her to continue. And then we did a project which lasted for about six months.

AI: It’s incredible that you imagine yourself within the picture. Behind the camera and in front of the camera. I can relate a lot to... in the beginning when I didn’t have people to work with I only had myself. I also was a young mum, I was like 20 and I had Zoe. I did music and at night when she was in bed I was doing my art. I was filming myself a lot performing but I had the feeling I could do whatever with myself. I could be cruel, I could be romantic, I could be nice, I could make myself look bad, I could make myself look good.

JT: Or humorous or funny, ugly or beautiful, anything. That was for me a complete eye opener.

AI: ‘Cause you’re not asking that from someone else. You’re asking it from yourself.

JT: Yeah, complete control, exactly. So that helped me a lot. And then it helped other people who started to work with me a lot to understand. And then I did another video of – also, you know this picture, with Charlotte is playing the piano.

AI: And you’re lying on the grand piano.

JT: That’s when I thought, how is this when it’s moving? So I did a video of it. She plays the piano and I’m (chuckles) really moving around. I like it. AI: You’re a dancer too.

JT: (laughs)

AI: I mean, you’re kind of relentless with yourself. Because not all of your images that you’re in look particularly flattering.


AI: I think it makes it into something – well, you said it, it helps people who work with you to accept this moment, to see yourself from the outside. I was with you in a moment where I said, ‘You can’t take this picture of me, I look shit’. You yourself (chuckles) look like shit in some of the pictures, you know. There’s a beauty in this, accepting that we are these creatures of habit and if people are used to seeing other people in poses that look very flattering to them, like the whole pop industry and the fashion in- dustry, it’s the world that you work in but you established something that carves out a small space of freedom in there. When you are there and say, ‘Hey, this is how it’s supposed to be, I don’t want to have that person retouched or look like every other picture’, people accept it. And I know it took you a long time. You weren’t right there from the start. You had to know that you can accept yourself to be in an image and not be perfect. I know that you collaborated with Boris Mikhailov, and I also saw that the curator you’re working with, Thomas Weski, that he has done [William] Eggleston in the past and you are a fan of Eggleston.

JT: Yes.

AI: I was thinking of the Boris pictures especially because he is a figure that brought this also to the world, in another field.

JT: Yes, yes.

AI: Can you talk about how you came across Boris’ work?

JT: Funnily enough, it was at Steidl. And Steidl was not the publisher, he was only the printer. There used to be a Swiss publisher called Scalo where Nan Goldin and all these people published books. And he pub- lished my Go-see book. I was at Steidl, and it’s this brick and it’s 480 pages and at the same time Boris Mikhailov was there, through Scalo, but printed at Steidl and he published Case History, which is the same size and also 480 pages, and that’s where I met him and his wife, Vita. And when I looked at Case History it blew my mind. Like, what the fuck is this? This is so hardcore this work, it’s incredible. And I like him a lot and I liked his wife a lot.

Juergen Teller- My Dad’s picture of me, London, 2015
Juergen Teller- My Dad’s picture of me, London, 2015
Juergen Teller- My Dad’s picture of me, London, 2015
Juergen Teller- My Dad’s picture of me, London, 2015

AI: How much older than you is he?

JT: 82, 83, maybe? And over the years we became friends and we had three exhibitions together. 85, he is. One in Venice and one in Holland and whatever.

AI: It was the Ukrainian Pavilion, right?

JT: Yes. But what was in the back of my mind is this strong relationship they have together, Vita and Boris. They agree on things and they argue about things, but they do everything together. They work together. He photographs her and somehow – not obviously – but it was somehow in the back of my mind that I would love to have something like that. And I found that in Dovile. And the beautiful thing is that we visit them some- times in Berlin. We just went to their opening in Rome and Dovile speaks Russian so they talk to each other in Russian the whole time. Vita speaks to me in English and Boris speaks to me a little bit in English but the whole conversation goes – they’re completely in love with Dovile.

AI: Not only them (laughs)
JT: It’s a wonderful friendship we have together. I think it has a lot to do with my braveness of saying [to Dovile], ‘Why don’t we work together?’ It must have been at the back of my mind, this thing of what Boris and Vita have.

AI: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And also his way of looking at the world. His pictures are incredible.

And I thought, ‘Fuck, it’s an Eggleston photograph’. You see? It’s beautiful. I couldn’t do what you do and you couldn’t do what I do. It’s magic. Juergen Teller

JT: His pictures are really heavy but he also has this incredible sense of humour and it’s something we have very much in common because some of my work is really heavy but it’s also really tragic and humorous, so I find myself very close to him and he me.

AI: And what is it about Eggleston? He’s the godfather of colour photog- raphy and he photographed at a moment in America where early capital- ism consumerism was obviously in the images and also something that started to rule daily life.

JT: He also influenced completely what Hollywood movies look like.

AI: Yeah, you’re right. Did he work with lights? Because a lot of his works were outside. I remember when we were shooting you used the light that was there and then placed lights, but sometimes you place lights but in a way that you wouldn’t use them in the traditional sense of good lighting.

JT: Yes, yes. But mostly I think he uses just natural light. There are some instances in some series he did where he has a flash on. I’ll tell you a kind of beautiful story, because we are extremely fond of each other and we went on a couple of road trips together. For me it was incredible. I met him in Memphis, an American magazine asked me to photograph him, I can’t remember what magazine it was. And we just got on so well, without say- ing much, but we spent a lot of time together. I spent three days with him in Memphis and then at the end of it he says (puts on old time American accent), ‘Juergen, do you wanna go on a road trip with me to Bavaria?’ I was like, god, this is fucking brilliant! Eggleston, go on a road trip, to where I’m from. This is fucking insane! And literally three-four weeks later, we were in Bavaria, driving around. It was insane. It was absolutely incred- ible. I was in such heaven being with him. We both didn’t take a single photograph. It was completely stupid, I wish I would have. But then what I really wanted to say was, we were sitting on a park bench on the day when I asked him to be the male model for the Marc Jacobs campaign and we were next to the Eiffel Tower. We both had the cameras around our necks, we both had the Contax G2 and the same lens, and we were both sitting on the park bench and I turn around, and I’m like, ‘Bill, this is just an Eggleston picture, right there!’ And he looked over, smoked a cigarette, ‘Juergen, you’re right!’, got up, click, one click, and sat down again. And I’m like, ‘Oh my god, now that I’ve actually seen the Eggleston photograph, I’m going to do my own Eggleston photograph’. So I got up and did a photograph and I thought, let’s do it 15 times just to make sure I get it, and I came home and I thought, ‘I’ve got a William Eggleston photograph myself!’ I developed the film, looked on the light box because I was shooting still film, had the negative, and I looked at it and looked at it and looked at it, and it just wasn’t quite there. A couple of months later had a show at the Fondation Cartier because he got commissioned to photograph Paris, so over a period of two years, back and forth, he was roaming around Paris. He invited me to the opening and I go there and he stands at the staircase. (does Eggleston’s accent) ‘Juergen, I was waiting for you. I want to show you something.’ And he grabs my arm, pulls me downstairs in the gallery and there was this photograph of what I’ve seen. And I thought, ‘Fuck, it’s an Eggleston photograph’. You see? It’s beauti- ful. I couldn’t do what you do and you couldn’t do what I do. It’s magic.

AI: It’s beautiful. It’s also, everybody takes it in in a different way. We are all so different from each other. There’s sometimes this panic about who owns what, which is so ridiculous because we all have our own beautiful minds. I think that your work – I was writing all of this, look (shows writing)

JT: That’s an art piece already!

AI: I can send it to you. You can put it in your bathroom. (chuckles)

JT: Yeah, please! (laughs)

AI: What I was thinking was, what can I say about it. The poem I wrote for my first piece, a kind of poem that I wanted somebody to say, and it was, what was it... Ah yeah, ‘What do we do, friend, if we haven’t done anything to each other yet?’ It was for me this idea of like, you are with a person in a room or with many people, and there is this moment of the life in my work, in your works, that crystallises to be a photo in the end, and all around this moment, this moment where you enter a space together and you are there and nothing has happened yet. The potency or the potential of that. And the beautiful idea of it can go any direction. And somehow staying in there. Somehow I feel the beauty of this moment in a lot of your works. None of us know how the show is going to be or what it’s going to do to people but a lot of people will see it. A lot of young people will see it. Us back then, like you seeing photographs that inspired you. I think you are a very inspiring figure to a lot of people. Also for me. And I’m so happy this happens, the show is going to be there and that people are going to see this strip of art and life mixed up. I love that.

JT: Good. Your show in Paris was totally powerful too.

AI: Oh, thank you. It might have been the show I bled over the most, too.

JT: I can imagine. That was brilliant. It was really, really powerful.

AI: There’s mostly a lot of pain when something like this happens too, you know. At least with me there’s always that threshold I have to cross.

JT: Oh yeah, it’s hard work. (chuckles)
AI: Do you want to talk about anything else?

JT: Hang on, I’ve just got to go to the bathroom.

AI: Dovile, are you still there?

DD: I am.

AI: Shall we continue? (laughs) Come over! What do you think? Are we done?

DD: I think it’s great guys! I don’t know, you’ve been talking for two hours.

AI: Oh my god, really?

DD: You guys have things to say to each other. Amazing. I think it will be interesting to read. I’m listening with one ear but I think it will be great. I love this kind of fluent conversation you guys are having.

AI: I like it to be us just talking rather than me posing questions.

DD: I think it’s nice to hear your thoughts and connect to him. I think it’s better than just question, question, question. It’s a conversation, I really like that.

AI: Quick question to you: how was it for you to do the first work with Juer- gen? How did you feel?

DD: I think it was very strange because I could understand, you know, a bit like what he said and what you said, artists are meant to be alone, or not ‘meant’, but if they’re alone they’re supposed to stay alone. And for whatever reason it’s not acceptable.

AI: The art world is for sure one world where it is difficult to establish.

DD: Yeah, very unforgiving. If you decide to change something, I think a lot of times you are asked or you’re pushed or you’re expected to go back. It doesn’t matter if your work becomes better – or maybe not bet- ter, but more interesting or different or there’s movement towards, you know, it’s not a stale thing – I just think it’s challenging. I think we were both just lucky or we were just meant to have this. But from the beginning it was very hard. We’ve just somehow managed to, you know – we stuck together. He has this obligation to the world to give his talent, share his talent, same as you as an artist, you guys have an obligation to the world to continuously, alone or with a partner or a collaborator, just continuously giving your talents and energy to the world. It can be hard but you have no choice, I would say.

AI: And on the other hand it’s a big privilege, I feel.

DD: Yeah.

AI: Doing what I think is right or doing the best I can. But just put it out there. But Dovile, I think there’s also a big part of the story where you couldn’t go back. As Juergen said, you left your life and that was the step.

DD: Yes, yes, yes!

JT: Also, it’s interesting what we said before. I realise now, with the strength of what we have together, how easily people could manipulate me without me even realising it. Little things. Now this is not happening anymore because I have protection from her. And that’s really interesting. And I was going along with it, but they were doing it for their own good, for their own reasons.

AI: With you Dovile, there’s also your talent in that. There’s something where people question if there’s true collaboration going on, it’s danger- ous. I felt sometimes with my own relationship, that Eliza and I, for ex- ample this whole dark romcom that we lived out in public, it also was like fucking true to who we were. Everything was laid out. On the other hand, I felt like it had a lot of integrity, myself and what I was doing, because there was also somebody there who – what we did with each other, we knew each other very well. Our own artistic practice had to go through each other. She was the first judgement or I was the first judgement. And it was relentless or not easy to sometimes negotiate that, basically on a plate, seen by some sort of public eye.

DD: I think it’s a different level what we have and what you and Eliza have. It’s too complicated for people to understand. It’s too far away. I mean, I get it. I think to understand love and this really big commitment and very pure energy, I think it’s very difficult.

AI: When I met Juergen, it was always my dream to have everything. It was my dream to live the thing that is also my work. There were no boundaries. That was harmful for me too, because I had no boundaries. Everything could also go in. Everybody could ask everything of me. It was crazy to me that then I had to learn how to do that in a way, because it also allowed the work to be what it is. And then it became something beautiful. I still think this porousness and the boundarylessness that is in the work also allows it to be what it is. Maybe I had no different choice. But what I see with you, and when I see that you create the safe space with each other, because Juergen, I see you pouring yourself into your work, and when you’re there together, you’re all in, the two of you. And now there’s Iggy!

JT: We did a brilliant project. Did you see this project? Iggy Pop, for Docu- ment magazine. We liked him, we call Iggy Iggy because of that. The magazine hears about it and they’re like, ‘Oh my god, you called your daughter Iggy because of this shoot we commissioned. She’s gotta be on the cover.’ I’m thinking, this is just embarrassing. Everybody has cute pictures of their baby and to have this cute little, nice, dee-dee-lee-dee, sweet picture of a baby, I’m going to look like an idiot, I’ve got to think of something. And we thought, ah, Iggy Teller does Teller. She restages some of my iconic photographs. And it was so much fun.

AI: A good collaborator.

JT: Yeah. This is very much at the end of the show.

AI: So this is kind of how the circle closes.

JT: Yes, yes, and then they come back alive through this new world. And I will have one new video but I will have that as a surprise.

AI: Okay. I’m happy we did this. JT: Me too. Very much so.
AI: Shall we stop? Are we done. JT: Yeah.

DD: I thought it was great you guys. My computer says low battery so you have to stop!

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