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We're All Gonna Die

Simon Hogsberg's inevitable truth is unmasked in a new photography project that spans 100 meters of existence.

Spanning an impressive length of 100 meters, Simon Hogsberg's latest photography project is a candid glimpse into the every day lives of passers by. Featuring 178 unsuspecting subjects, the images were shot over a period of 20 days from the same place on the railroad bridge at Warschauer Strasse in Berlin during the summer of 2007. The project, ‘We’re All Gonna Die- 100 Meters of Existence,’ is a confronting, humorous and decidedly honest look at ‘ordinary’ life as it occurs on the streets around us. Simon takes a moment to tell us why there are beautiful stories everywhere, even in the simple things the rest of us have deemed mundane…

Dazed Digital: What is the project all about?
SH: The project/the photograph is my reaction to and attempt to convey the feeling of pity and love I have for all humans when I give myself time to study them through a lens. Pity because I sense that most individuals carry in their heads so much information/ so many stories and thoughts which no-one but themselves will ever be fully able to appreciate. And love because I have this romantic urge to be part of their stories and to, if I could, give them the satisfaction of being listened to and appreciated for what they themselves undoubtedly feel that they are worth.

DD: Why the ominous title?
SH: I chose the title because where all going to god damn die, and at times I feel so dissatisfied with the way I myself and my surroundings communicate with each other - it's as if we have to be told by a doctor that we've got a week left before we dare to reveal how we really think about things and each other and ourselves. And this is so stupid since many of the things we don't dare to share with each other are pretty much the same things that, I believe, the others don't dare share with us. So its left untold. And how are you, I'm fine. Right. You stupid git. I don't at all believe you. But I'll just pretend that I do. London is a perfect example of a city where this... lack of communicative courage flourishes.

DD: What gave you the idea for this project?
SH: In 2007 I went to Berlin to try to write a novel. And though I liked the plot and the first 12 pages, my legs wouldn't allow me to bar myself up in an apartment in a city that I was wildly curious to explore. So I grabbed my camera and a 400 mm lens. And suddenly found myself on the railroad bridge on Warschauer Strasse where the portraits in the 100 meter long photograph were taken. In short: Then and there I found out that I hadn't come to Berlin to write. I'd come there to photograph.

DD: What do you aim to capture in your work?
SH: When I was shooting the portraits for the long picture, consciously or unconsciously I aimed to capture the beauty and the oh so fragile individuals making up the human race.

DD: What interests you so much about ordinary people/life?
SH: We all know that the fashion industry is about "make believe". And though gorgeous models are just as real as 'ordinary' people, it is, after all, expected that models walk around with swollen lips and horny gestures, basically a mask that they put on to attract... what? Love basically. But the masks that many of us ordinary, none-model-people are carrying are just as transparent - only difference is that we're not good-looking and don't get paid for lying (I'm very bold now, I know). What I'm trying to say is: what interests me about normal people is that so many of us are aware that we're hiding, even though we totally also know that if we continue hiding we'll get bitter when we grow old.       

DD: Is there anything in particular that makes you stop and notice a person/event?
SH: If I'm seeing someone or something I'm not attracted to I will continue walking. So probably I only pay real attention to what I'm attracted to. And what is that? It's beauty. And that is also the case in situations where I'm not necessarily aware why I find someone or something beautiful. Inherent in my attraction to beauty is a knowledge that the beautiful thing or person I'm looking at contains the possibility of unknown pleasures (for me). It's the thought of the potential pleasures a person or event may give me that arrests me.

DD: How did people react when they noticed you photographing them?
SH: A couple of guys gave me the finger. Others pushed me deliberately when passing me, probably just to show their disagreement with what I was doing. Many people smiled, laughed or made comments about this guy with the camera that they'd seen sitting on the ground the last many days. I made sure I was clear-headed when I went shooting on Warschauer Strasse. Because I wanted to be certain that should I get into a direct confrontation with a person or people on the bridge I would be able to shrug them off and not let them succeed in their attempt to dissuade me from continuing the project.