Sergej Vutuc Photographer Interview

February 8, 2016
 maru_fukushima_3Tel Aviv  3/29/2015
By Nich Kunz and Nob
Nich: You bring a very different aesthetic to skateboarding, a type of traditional darkroom photography. Seems like you’ve worked a lot with Carhartt and Confusion mag but not with everybody that you could have. Does it seem like everyone understands the type of photography you do and your vision? Or do a
lot of people just not get it?
Sergej: I don’t know, on one side there is that magazine Confusion which is really something that try to mix different stuff in the skateboard world and gives me opportunity for some stuff, but it’s still in some ways very closed into the showing tricks and mentality of the tricks, that’s why I do my zines and my own stuff. Talking about industry everything is the question of people who is sitting in the marketing world. The industry is something that we should always think about, how much we let ourselves to be owned by them and give our self to take our handwriting and reason to them. You have always certain time the people who works inside, it’s never that completely image and the industry is a lways watching for how to make their own profits bigger…
Nobo: What does Thanksgiving in the US mean to you?
Sergej: Wow, it’s very interesting. It’s kind of confusion you know, if you see already the word “thanks” and “giving” is already very confused. Exceptionally since on one side it’s kind of background of natives and taking the land and giving the land and that kind of perfect state, sticking people in different believing just to follow something. But you make it like Christmas as well in America, you have Christmas celebrated by the Jewish people and everybody celebrate Christmas without thinking “What is the Christmas?” and it’s similar like that. You just put one date and people celebrate without thinking what you celebrate. There is also that beautiful part as well but I don’t think it always necessarily need to be under that name and it’s one of very confused days whenever I saw it. And I got super fat on that day.
Nich: How was it growing up skating in the Balkans when you did?
Sergej: I start end of 80’s and it was kind of influenced by affect of a film that was playing in our mainstream cinema. It’s very interesting cause it’s kind of like a Hollywood, like a love story. It actually made Romeo and Juliet story into the skateboard world, there were the Daggers and the fashion kids which is always repeating in skateboarding. That film more or less in the Balkan was always our inspiration in many things. On some ways the whole wave came maybe 30 years later than in California so in that time was a time where also we didn’t have any skateshops so it was based like 30 years before in California. Like you take piece of the wood and rollers and build own things, or you have a luck that you have somebody of the parents or family who live out in Yugoslavia and in that time could bring you something. It was very interesting time and later was also the war time which in some ways break a little bit scene and make some things a little bit difficult but on one side make interesting experience for me. If you have the passion for it, that human thing like when you have the airplane attack and can decide that okay, that parking place where you skate nothing gonna happen there and you can go there to skate. I know many many things was based on that building your own life and sometimes if you want you needed to go far and take it back. Later everything is based on the American mainstream skateboarding culture so the whole building of the scene is based on the 3 or 4 major American magazines which is actually advertising catalogs of the industry so made it like there was less zine culture or subculture, everything is the way of acting and way of dressing very based on the way of what was going on in America.
Nich: Did you move straight to Germany from the Balkan?
Sergej: Yea, I was born in Bosnia. It’s always interesting, I say I was born in a country which doesn’t exist anymore, which is also the reason I’m not so familiar with religions and nationalities. I moved in that time also to a country which later turned to be Croatia. Those 2 countries, Bosnia then Croatia, after maybe 10 years in Croatia I start to visit Germany to visit my mother. I started getting easy going jobs, construction and stuff like that, so that I can come back to Croatia and live good for a couple of months then with the time life start to change and I start to be part of German society and that kind of weird mix of this place and again go through that question of being human and being part of a nation, or someone’s nation or whatever. With time I found so many different challenge for myself to be in Germany. Maybe also because some of those things maybe wouldn’t make in Balkans and I found it very interesting to be in that small industrial town and do something which normally going to be done in cities like Berlin or big cities. Doing art space and invite artists from all around the world to that small city to maybe have their first European exhibition in that city and try to give the sense of the life that it’s more important about what you’re doing than where it is. That was in Heilbron, where I lived for almost 14 years, in those 14 years I was doing it maybe 10 years. In the beginning I was doing punk shows and stuff then from 2003/2004 I start to do different art spaces there.
Nich: Now you’re in Berlin, but you’re also traveling a lot. It seems like you like to go to the grittier, rougher places, which Berlin seems to be as far as the architecture, the ground, the skating. What pushes you to travel and what’s betterabout Detroit than a sunny beach?

Sergej: I accidentally move to Berlin, actually I didn’t want to settle myself for now somewhere. I have a feeling that in my age it’s kind of that way how I travel and how I’m moving could I do that constantly like that so I want to see as much as possible until my body and my inside power is like that. All my travel is based on the activist and seeing people and sharing with them their space and the possibilities of their space. The less privacy and the less whatever comfortable means to somebody, so your mental and physical situation need to be very strong for such of things. To settle somewhere at the moment I had the luck through the great Berlin scene that they give me opportunity and support and took me with open hands to move there and give me a base for the next time of life. Normally I’m not a big fan of Berlin, which makes it very interesting for me to be there as well and to try and discover that. The roughness of Berlin is illusion and a trademark of the city, which actually is made with that kind of roughness a touristic attraction in the world. That sometimes freak me out with those things, you need really to watch in between to see the reality there. I don’t know if I’m really just for the roughness, interesting you know, cause roughness is also something sad in human life but also goes together with honest of the life. It’s less hide some instinct of the human and his social fall down and aggressiveness of the prophet word and corporations, or the system which sometimes run about people which should be a part of the chain. People who are doing some stuff in those cities are people who are doing because they need to make something and need to share and want to make the small things shining and bright in the life. Doing such of things in cities like Berlin or whatever is mostly built together with commercials aspect so all those things which could be considered alternative, they’re just a trademark on the end as alternative and it’s just a new opportunity for the tourists or people who move to city. The rent prices and it kills the freedom of free mind and pushing the borders of creativity. All those travels is for me reading between the lines of the media and politic worlds and to see the nature, which humans is part of it, and learn myself andlearn what is the world.


Nich: Now, we’re here in Tel Aviv and we’re on the Weirdo tour…How did this trip come about?
Sergej: Weirdo came kind of through one of those beautiful things of the skateboarding I think that the part of all the different people from all around the world just of the reason that everybody of us has something to do with that piece of the wood with four wheels. Seeing that above the industry and the commercial things around that, it brings us in some ways together. Francisco had few years ago was interesting to make a documentary about my things. What I’m doing andI dunno, for me sometimes just one more documentary about somebody, I don’t know does the world need that. But I was interesting to collaborate and make something together and one idea was to try to make surreal skate film. We had some ideas to start in this time of the year which was okay, and at least have a starting point of a country where is a war. For me it’s interesting happening in the part of the world where is the biggest surrealism of human. I was very interesting in that aspect to come to this area and to try and work here. For me it was also very important the people who we invited from different sides of the world, I was hoping to also get more people from very different cultures, like people from Japan, but it’s very hard. I’m very glad you made it over because it’s very far and very expensive, but it’s made just on our passion and our believing between all of us and it’s not based on any corporation’s advertising program. I’m glad that all the people made the way here and I’m very thankful for it. I think that that’s also one of maybe weird stamps now a days, sadly but weird stamp in skateboarding.
Nobo: How long have you had your beard for?
Sergej: I think somewhere less since I start growing up, I don’t think so much about that. For me it was just a way easy go with the day. I don’t need to wake up in the morning and think is something long or not long, I don’t need to buy any things to shave myself. Also, in the time when I start all those things were animal  taste so I didn’t saw the reason why I should shave myself and put all those chemicals on my face.
Nich: So you do more than just shoot photos, you also skate, draw, make music, zines, books, how do all of these influence each other or are they all just from one thing?
Sergej: I tried years ago after to separate those things and to see them from different influence and different way and also using different names and stuff likethat for those expressions but I think on the end they are one thing. That’s one of my wishes not to repeat myself so much. Of course when I think there is a sentence repeating in a static ways but I hope not for a long time. Maybe that’s why I’m using the all different ways to take a break of something and can reflect and think on the other and at the same moment one influence the other and give me opportunity to stay back from one thing, and also watch the public space from a different angle. Watch the space of being on the stage, in front, in exhibition space, whatever it is. I would like to use more the word playing, but not only in a childish way, it’s more in the process and creative way. Somewhere between mental statement and losing the mental statement. Sometimes you reflect after what you did and decide are you throwing that in the trash or you go further with that.
Nich: What’s next for Sergej Vutuc?
Sergej: For me? Hope to come out of this religious military country, that’s the big thing, with all my film rolls that I shot.
Nich: I hope for that also.
Sergej: Thanks