Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Conversation with Beatrix Reinhardt

American Club, Beijing, China, Club Series, © Beatrix Reinhardt

In high school, I was most likely defined to be in the artsy clique since my lunch table was mainly occupied by art students. I had friends that were in dance, vocal, drama, and music majors but somehow my group of friends understood each other and therefore always remained close. It is this club culture of having people with like interests that makes us feel like we're not an odd man out. Beatrix Reinhardt is a photographer that traveled to different parts of the world to seek out member's only clubs.
"This project investigates visually interior spaces that define themselves as clubs, mostly membership clubs.

My interest in clubs was sparked by the attitude of Australians towards these entities. Clubs appeared to be institutions of great significance within the social landscape. I never have been a big enthusiast of organized “togetherness”, which I always contributed to my upbringing in former East Germany, where a schedule of memberships was awaiting since the day one was born." - Beatrix Reinhardt, on Club Series

ChangAn Club, Beijing, China, Club Series, © Beatrix Reinhardt

Nymphoto: Tell us a little about yourself?

Beatrix Reinhardt: I am born in Russia because my mother studied there and she gave birth to me during her final examination. After she received her degree, we moved back to Germany, to Jena (former East Germany).

I came to the US to study for one year at the New School for Social Research...somehow I ended up completing a MA degree…and after working for a while I went back to school. After the completion of my MFA I was going back and forth between the US and Europe, as well as other parts of the world. I taught and did artist-in-residency gigs at different institutions all over. Since late 2005 New York has been my primary residence.

Club 13, Punk Club, Beijing, China, Club Series, © Beatrix Reinhardt
Cretan Club II, Astoria, NY, Club Series, © Beatrix Reinhardt

NP: How did you discover photography?

BR: I started photography while I was studying at the New School. Why? I am not 100% sure. I am assuming I started it because I was not able to speak English. Back home my “medium” was language. I studied “New German Literature” and I wrote for newspapers. After my arrival here, this “medium” was gone – maybe photography was a replacement? I came to the New School to study filmmaking but my language skills made it hard to edit sound. So, I started to take classes at Parsons. After the completion of my degree in Media, I continued working on my photography…and eventually went back to school.

Curling Club, St Paul, MN, Club Series, © Beatrix Reinhardt

Hellenic Club, Canberra, Australia, Club Series, © Beatrix Reinhardt

NP: Where do you find inspiration?

BR: Life, food, love…anything! One thing though that is super important to me is travel. Travel is very important to me as a person and as an artist, especially to places that are removed from the “western tradition”. Travel allows my senses to reshuffle and to rejuvenate, which I believe, informs my work. Key however is, from my point of view, to spent a minimum of 1 month (ideally 2-3 moths) in the same place.

Pathfinder Gun and Hunting Club, Fulton, NY, Club Series, © Beatrix Reinhardt

NP: How do your projects come about?

BR: It differs from project to project. For instance, when I moved to to Normal/Bloomington, IL to study. This is a medium sized town. It is surrounded by corn and soy fields…endless fields. In between one can find small communities of farmers. I was so curious about the people who chose to reside there. I started a project about one of these small towns. The project became a long-term project. I went several times a week to photograph, went to all town meetings, exhibited the images on a weekly base in the post office (the only public space left in town)…one day after a town hall meeting, the mayor of the town and a resident had a disagreement…they started to punch each other…a couple of days later, the mayor was gone. I asked around where he is. I was directed to a close by permanent campground/trailer park. I went there to visit him and I fell in love…I fell in love with “Wildwood”. It was an amazing place – visually rich, and the people were friendly and grumpy at the same time – it all was intriguing. I photographed there, even lived there at times, for more than 3 years. When I exhibited the body of work, the Wildwood community was part of it – the exhibitions were held as potluck dinner events in galleries. So the project came about through luck, circumstances…life!

Others, for instance the project I am working on now, the pipeline project, was motivated by my upbringing in East Germany. In school I learned about a lot about this pipeline, and somehow it sparked my interest again. Why I am not sure…the wars we have been having over natural resources, a book I read about the American West and its reminiscence to stories that workers who erected the pipeline told me during my childhood…I am not sure. Last summer I just jumped into a plane and checked it out.

Sahara Social Club, London, England, Club Series, © Beatrix Reinhardt

"To me, Clubs are the nexus of homogeny and heterogeny. It is that space where “like” comes together and “unlike” stays apart. The club manifests the accomplishment of a unified “taste” a harmony, a bringing together of certain personal elements, which could, quite possibly otherwise have been kept apart. However, what remains apart is just as important as what comes together to constitute the club. That is, it is not only due to the nature of union that the club is defined and takes on a meaning but also due to the nature of exclusion. Exclusion becomes a main attribute of a club but more importantly it is what it excludes that becomes the defining characteristic of the club in question." - Beatrix Reinhardt, on Club Series

NP: What’s next?

BR: As stated above, since last summer (08) I am working on a project about a gas pipeline in the Ukraine. I will continue this summer – let’s see what it will become. There are some other small projects going on but they still need to ripe a bit more.
Another issues high on the list – finding a publisher for the Club Series.

Tantra Club, London, England, Club Series, © Beatrix Reinhardt

To see more of Beatrix Reinhardt's work, please go to

1 comment:

Erica said...

i adore beatrix's coca cola houses in india -- that was really brilliant! loved that she finds inspiration from traveling, and i totally agree that you really need to spend a couple months in a spot to truly absorb your surroundings.