Born in Halle/S. in 1963, studied photography at the Academy of Visual Arts in Leipzig from 1985 to 1990, master student of Helfried Strauß and Wolfgang G. Schröter from 1990 to 1992.
Olaf Martens’ photographs are often associated with the aesthetic of the beautiful young women of lifestyle magazines. Behind the obvious beauty of the photographs, one can detect lust, irony and a form of the bizarre. Martens tries to see through the mechanisms behind the image content that has solidified into stereotypes.
He often photographed in the GDR and Russia: scrap nuclear submarines, Russian revue theatres, ballet, etc.
The resulting images play with contrasts – decadence and poverty, thick and thin. Martens relies on irony to examine the methods of fiction formation. He draws on motifs from art history as well as banal advertising strategies. The combination of normally incompatible elements leads to calculated coincidence based breaks with uniqueness and demands simultaneous thinking on different levels. In addition, there are portraits of artists, including Dinos & Jake Chapman, Sarah Lucas, Franka Potente, the group Leningrad or Roland Emmerich, in which Martens seeks to make visible the working method or the character of the artist portrayed. Martens lives and works in Leipzig.
Filmtrick-Trickfilm – VEB Fotokinoverlag Leipzig 1978, (5. neubearb. Auflage 26.-30 Tausend
)This book accompanied me in my youth up and down, read twice and several times.
The fun of analogue building – combined with creativity – are very rare today in the digital age. Today I use what I learned so old-fashioned back then and make my staged imagery unique. Yes…, the resulting images even still have a soul and identity.
At the moment, young photographers contact me to learn this, they are digitally well positioned… but…. the important thing: tinkering with the unique, is still missing with them.
The Paris of Robert Doisneau and Max-Pol Fouchet – Verlag Volk und Welt, Berlin 1976, 1st edition
My professor Helfried Strauss gave me this book for my birthday back in the 90s. It’s a beautiful gesture that I’ll never forget, and it makes this book special. We were big fans of social/street photography back then, myself included. This classic in particular influenced me a lot. Many of these random moments are still incorporated into my productions today. I record many coincidences that arise during a picture that is actually symmetrically constructed, I let myself be disturbed, precisely so that the whole thing does not become boring, stiff and bumpy. The book was a licensed edition from the West at the time – a rarity – so-called “Bückware”. similar to licensed records of western pop and rock music in the former GDR.
Boccaccios Decamerone, Verlag Faber&Faber, Leipzig 2020
Why this book with my own photographic productions? The project was already planned in 2019 and realized in February 2020 with 10 actors. Background of the plot : 7 young women and 3 young men flee from the plague in 1348 from Florence to a rural idyll. They retire to country estates, distract themselves, enjoy themselves, tell each other stories, these very 100 novellas.
In March 2020 – shortly after our production – then suddenly, the unforeseeable parallel:
not the plague, but Covid 19. retreat – distance – state of emergency everywhere An incredible coincidence? The reality of the present has caught up with the literature of the past.
We are going through similar processes today – globally and as a pandemic – as those 10 young people did more than 600 years ago. And we staged it just before, still cluelessly anticipating.