Alexander Binder is a photographer who isn’t scared of the dark. A love of Aphex Twin, obscure drone, ambient and black metal informs his pitch black aesthetic.
“I was born on Halloween night 1976 in the Black Forest, Germany. The whole area were I grew up was shaped by the fairy tales of Wilhelm Hauff and the Brothers Grimm, so I made early contact with haunted woods, witches and demons (at least in a metaphorical sense).
This early contact with mythical creatures motivated me to spend my whole puberty in the local video rental store watching all kinds of horror-, sci-fi- and splatter-movies. I guess that this heavy consumption of videos also provided the basis for my “inner visual library”. Even today you find a lot of aesthetic artifacts of the horror genre in my body of work, like my passion for blurry black and white images, or ghoulish masks.
When I was younger I used to listen to a lot of Black Metal music (especially the so-called “second wave bands” like Emperor and Immortal). After a short intermezzo with electronic stuff (Autechre, Aphex Twin) I switched back to the dark side of music – and drone bands like Sunn O))), dark ambient soundscapes by Vinterriket or even classical music. At the moment I am totally into the music of Austrian composer Gustav Mahler. I found a whole collection of his works (about 30 records) in a thrift store a few weeks ago and I play them on heavy rotation since then. Mahler is just amazing – he had this unique romantic approach and knew about the philosophical significance of his works. His music is majestic, tragic and sad at the same time.
I never went to art school. So photography was a learning-by-doing process for me. At the beginning I tried to read some books about the technical background of photography, but they bored me soon. And so I decided to spend my time in museums and public libraries, studying the works of artists I really love.
During that time I discovered my enthusiasm for the art of late Medieval painters like Hans Memling and the way in which they contrasted earthly beauty with symbols of suffering and hell. It was especially this strange perception of reality – that there’s something evil in everything that happens under the sun – which caught my attention. And it still fascinates me – because, at the end of the day: it’s all about life and death.
Photos and words: Alex Binder
For JUKE Vol.02