André Rival

BY Elisabeth Biondi, March 1, 2013

André Rival, his witty book of carefully thought-out and impish self-portraits alongside celebrities, had an unforeseen effect. He became a known German personality himself, soon amassing TV-invitations galore. The book was hugely successful, and André being a creatively restless spirit decided to make a 360-degree turn. Instead of focusing on the well known, he decided to take what he calls ‘accidental’ black & white pictures of himself next to Berlin’s unknown club creatures. His almost obsessive pursuit of Berlin nightlife lasted ten years. Although André claims that chance alone allowed his pictures to happen, the images nevertheless are cohesive in vision and together form an authoritative account of nighttime Berlin.

André returned to his hometown Berlin just as New York lost some of its glamour. The new/old capitol of Germany was turning into a magnet for artists and developed an aura of cool creativity. In the Roaring Twenties, Berlin had a similar reputation for the exotic and risqué. While it is different now, the nights are still glittering and still a bit naughty. André’s pictures remind me of another Berlin photographer whose work I greatly admire, Helmut Newton. They are different in the style of photography but connected deeply in spirit. André’s title for these pictures taken on the sly while he prowled the nightly events is “Decade of Desire.” They add up to a significant study of a particular time in a singular place. I wonder what they will tell me about Berlin in 50 years? I do know they should be looked at then, as well as right now. In the meantime, André has moved on to yet another totally different project: a visual examination of time in a post-photographic world.