How this is presented, however, is what matters. Photographer Marie Staggat has been an integral part of the scene for years and has teamed up with journalist Timo Stein for the book project »HUSH – Berlin Club Culture In A Time Of Silence«, which fittingly appears on the anniversary of the first measures taken against the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic – that is, when all the clubs that had not yet done so of their own accord had to close their doors.
Staggat’s approach is a detailed one: when she is not observing the ban on photography that also existed during the pandemic and only depicts the outer facades of the clubs, she zooms in, sometimes in black and white, sometimes in colour, into the corners where life was still bustling before and which are now permeated by crushing emptiness. These are sobering images from the former epicentres of noise. In ELSE, the wooden plank dance floor is littered with dead leaves, in Crack Bellmer, junk piles up in front of the gilded bar. Staggat concisely makes visible an experience of scarcity that is above all a social one.
Nevertheless, she gets people for the trigger: she portrayed the makers behind the clubs, with whom Stein talked for short, typographically wildly placed interviews during the period of the book’s creation between April 2020 and January this year. »It was quite jarring to realise how fragile one’s life plan can be,« says Paloma booker Finn Johannsen, summing up the actually unsurprising but all the more bitter insight of the early pandemic months. It is one that runs in different variations through the good 40 conversations and portraits laced with much pathos, which, however, tell not only of the crisis but also of the biographies of these people – the life behind the emptiness.
As a book publication, the joint project by Marie Staggat and Timo Stein is both a chronicle of a state of emergency and a psychogram of those who actually feel most comfortable in precisely such a state. Incidentally, the proceeds from the book sales go to them and their workplaces. So that perhaps there will be movement again, one day.