Yuchengco Museum Features Sven Marquardt's Intensely Provocative Portraits

Arts & Culture

June 30, 2017 | BY Philippine Tatler

Intense. Powerful. One look in his portrait and you're spiraling down to your buried feelings remorse and bliss

_IMG_2077.jpgSven Marquardt

Sven Marquardt returns to the Philippines for his first solo exhibition of photography in the country. "Future's Past" is a collection of black and white portraits that presents an examination of humanity with intense themes running through the timeless images—30 years in the making.

The exhibition is laid out as a narrative, telling an intimate story about Berlin locals. Marquardt’s work suggests an inextricable connection between the future and the past, through his dark and industrial photographs which immediately captures one’s attention. In this exhibition, Marquardt offers balanced compositions together with an unshakeable tension felt through the piercing stares of his subjects as the focus of his works has always been on people. At different sites he draws attention to the figures, which become strong and confident characters, or situations drawn by fragility, melancholy and gentleness. Marquardt works exclusively in black and white, with natural light and analogue photo equipment. He deliberately maintains the tension to see only after the development of the photos and some days of waiting how the results have become.

Sven Marquardt was born in 1962, just a year after the construction of the infamous Berlin Wall. He grew up in East Berlin of the socialist German Democratic Republic (GDR) and got involved in the punk scene during his youth. He ran into trouble with the GDR authorities often enough that soon, he was banned from Mitte, the city’s central district.


Marquardt began his career in photography during the early 1980’s in East Berlin. Photographs taken during his involvement in the punk scene offers an extensive documentation of GDR’s subculture at the time. After his education as a photographer and camera man, he found a mentor in the person of Helga Paris. Herself a photographer and a social critic, Paris helped him shape his photography and find his own style.

Starting out as camera assistant and later as a fashion photographer, Marquardt found himself immersed in Berlin’s techno club scene, shooting images that capture the heart and soul of the era, of the subculture in which he himself was entrenched.

In addition to his creative portfolio, the name Sven Marquardt is synonymous to Berlin’s most talked-about nightclub, Berghain, where he had worked as a doorman for many years. A notorious dance club, Berghain saw its popularity rise in the mid-2000s propelled by its rather subjective exclusivity and strict adherence to good techno music. Within just a few years after it opened, people have been dubbing Berghain as the “mecca of techno music”. The association with Berghain, his photography and his distinct appearance elevated Marquardt into a cult figure in Berlin.


Sven Marquardt has since been travelling around the globe for his exhibitions. He has published several books, worked with established brands and renowned institutions such as the photography school Ostkreuzschule and the Ernst Busch Academy of Dramatic Art.

"Future's Past" is brought to Manila by the Goethe-Institut Philippinen, the German Cultural Centre, in partnership with the Yuchengco Museum. The exhibition runs until August 11.


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