Juergen Teller was born in 1964, in Erlangen, Germany. He studied at the Bayerische Staatslehranstalt für Photographie in Munich, and moved to London in 1986 to avoid conscription. He works comfortable in both the fashion industry as well as the contemporary art world. Some of his commercial clients include Celine, Marc Jacobs, Vivienne Westwood, and Louis Vuitton. He is extremely well published, having published thirty-nine artist books and exhibition catalogues featuring both his commercial and personal projects. He currently holds a Professorship of Photography at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste Nürnberg.
A go-see is fashion industry lingo for when a model is sent along with her portfolio to see a photographer or agency in the hopes of getting booked for a job. In his Go-Sees project, Teller photographs the subjects (the models) framed in the doorway to his studio. They are positioned in that in-between space of neither in the street nor in the studio. This positioning is a visual metaphor for these young girls’ lives. They are all still very young, early teenagers really, but let loose in this cut-throat industry of fashion, expected to act and masquerade as adults on the runways. Teller ‘shot them framed in his west London doorway, caught between anonymity and potential fame, looking apprehensive, disarmed and disconcerted ‘(Searle, 2008).
Teller’s project is quite ironic in that, as a renowned fashion photographer where he makes beautiful portraits of wonderfully made up fashion models for his daily bread and butter, he turns the tables and reveals the models in their “raw” and vulnerable state. The fact that these portraits have a snapshot quality about them also adds to the irony.
Teller is known to have a “naughty-boy ability to subvert the image of fashion. He’s known to have it in for glamour – taking poor, vulnerable supermodels and putting dark circles around their eyes, giving them scars, in effect dismantling a beauty industry he seems to despise.”
These images tell us something about the photographer too. Teller is also complicit in the exploitation of these young girls. After all he is responsible for making the photograph that will launch the product or clothing the girl will be advertising. He is caught in a vicious trap of the lure of the commodity vs. the exposure of it. Most of the girls arrive at his studio dressed innocently in T-shirts and dungarees or jeans, their youthful vulnerability written all over their faces. Some of them pose very awkwardly, a foot hooked behind a leg in shyness, arms dangling by their sides like the gangly teenagers that they are. It is hard to believe that after a makeup artist and a fashion designer are done with these girls they will be totally unrecognisable. In a way Juergen Teller is capturing the last of their innocence.
Jauffret, Magali (2006). Juergen Teller – Do you know what I mean Aperture 184 | Fall 2006 p. 10
Searle, Adrian (2008) All human life [online] The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2008/may/21/photography.art [Accessed 8 June 2016]
Tate (2008) TateShots: Juergen Teller – Studio Visit [online] Tate. 4 min 40 secs Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QY0CCj4ujww [Accessed 8 June, 2016]
The ASX Team (2014). JUERGEN TELLER: “Go-Sees” (2000) (online). Available at: http://www.americansuburbx.com/2014/12/juergen-teller-go-sees-2000.html [Accessed 8 June, 2016]
The ASX Team on December 21, 2015 Juergen Teller Discussing “Go-Sees” and Ping-Pong Available at: http://www.americansuburbx.com/2015/12/juergen-teller-discussing-go-sees-and-ping-pong.html [Accessed 8 June, 2016]
CLM Agency Juergen Teller [online] Available at: http://www.clm-agency.com/photography/juergen-teller [Accessed 8 June, 2016]