The Photo Duo that Found Common Ground in Covered Cars
The Collector's Guide to Blockchain Photography
Karin Apollonia Mueller and Peter Nitsch came into an auspicious collaboration when they realized that, while living worlds away from one another, each were photographing the same subject matter: tarp-covered cars. The revelation of finding that each were producing work in such close conversation with the other began a unique partnership that has yielded an exciting new NFT collection titled CVRD.
With Mueller photographing throughout Los Angeles, and Nitsch in Bangkok, Thailand, both photographers pursuit a typographic account of automobiles found in the streets that signify mysterious nods to history, culture, and stewardship of seemingly benign everyday sights. The photographers have now turned their attention to releasing the 66-image collection this month, with early access minting available to a small handful of PhotoVerso readers.
To get whitelisted to mint work from CVRD, visit this link and register before September 11th: https://mintparty.xyz/cvrd/cvrdxpv
PhotoVerso: To start, can you guys provide a brief introduction to yourselves and your backgrounds in photography?
Karin Apollonia Mueller: I began studying illustration at the Folkwang School in Essen, Germany. We also had to take photography classes. I never used a camera before and I did not know anything technical. I liked the way of seeing and exploring the world with and through a camera. I chose the documentary approach and finished my master in Photography and Film. My career began by working as a photojournalist, having assignments around the Globe in Europe, Asia, USA, Russia, the Antarctica among others. Somehow I got tired of being assigned. I wanted to speak with my own voice. I applied for a grant in Los Angeles. For this I was supposed to photograph in Los Angeles and then organize an exhibition. Through this exhibition a gallerist found me, a publisher approached me, and I literally stumbled into the art-world.
Peter Nitsch I came late to photography. I have a background as a designer. I worked as an On Air designer and then in the field of corporate design for many years. During my study years at University I learned how to enlarge your own black and white photography and that was my entry point to where I came back after my design years. I did commercial photography for many years, but wanted to get back to the roots of that kind of photography that you do when you’re not bound to fulfill client needs. Living in Bangkok now, the city gave me that chance to try out, experiment and develop my photography.
PhotoVerso: What have been your biggest milestones so far in your careers as artists?
KAM: Being in the collection of MoMA, New York was certainly my very first big surprising milestone. But then also having published my first monograph “Angels in Fall“, having exhibitions and being commissioned by the Getty Institute for a project in LA downtown but also teaching were big milestones. You can go to my website to view more in my bio under collections, books, exhibitions.
PN: Being in the collection of Pinakothek der Moderne, publishing with Hatje Cantz my monograph “Tango in the Big Mango“ and becoming a life time member of The Royal Photographic Society of Thailand are some of the biggest milestones. Besides I’m thankful to everyone who appreciates my work.
PhotoVerso: Can you talk about what brought you into the world of NFTs?
KAM: It was surely the lockdown. During that time I also received a grant doing research on NFTs. My aim was to create something specific for the NFT world. I never dropped it. I never managed the technical difficulties to mint, to drop etc. Still kind of a mystery. Thank you to Peter Nitsch, who literally pushed me to do a cooperation. Voila. Here I am. Finally.
PN: I am always interested in everything new. But on NFTs I first did not notice them until I read an article in January 2022. The story about how NFTs could proof the ownership and the outlook made me literally jump into it.
PhotoVerso: How did you guys come to meet and collaborate?
PN: I came across Apollonia on Twitter. I discovered we both had been photographing the same topic: covered cars over the last couple of years. I then had the idea of making a combined drop, because due to the same topic the outcome is totally different. We titled the series CVRD (covered cars, 66 images, 33 by each artist). Apollonia photographed in Los Angeles, California, and I in Bangkok, Thailand. Apollonia uses daylight to sunset whereas I am photographing at night. Apollonia consequently horizontal, and I consequently vertical.
Both positions go beyond a typological approach in the sense of the German traditional Becher school fostering an attitude of detached observation and striking picture detail. We both explore the nexus of cultural understanding and the allure of the unknown and hidden, mystery and certainty, conspiracy and truth.
We decided on Tier Ranks. It was not easy to curate a final selection from all the thousand images we had. Each selected image convinces in its own complexity and uniqueness. It was even more difficult to classify the images into price categories. So we decided on a formal aspect which is: “Rarity aspect”. For example Tier 3 has more rarities than Tier 2. We see a covered motorcycle or a Porsche with an open trunk, a woolen cover or a black cover and so on. The Grails and Trophies are perhaps our personal diamonds. There is something distinctive and unspoken about them – maybe that’s what these make them even more rare.
PhotoVerso: Can you each talk about some of the inspirations and influences that fuel your work?
KAM: I think music and literature inspire me the most. In music I am stimulated above all by piano and cello, in literature mainly by poetry and philosophy in general. I am most sparked by students and fresh eyes. To list some names from the artworld I value Wolfgang Tillman, Paul Graham, Joel Sternfeld, Richard Misrach, Christian Patterson among many others, and I admire artists like Agnes Martin, Joan Mitchell, Terry Winters, Cy Twombly, William Turner among others.
PN: I always liked the works of Andreas Gursky, Thomas Struth, Gregory Crewdson and I draw inspiration as well from design and art works like Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Paul Klee, Gerhard Richter, Tanu Malakul Na Ayudhaya and many more.
PhotoVerso: On the whole, what do you hope audiences take away from spending time with your work?
KAM: I am thankful when the audience is spending time with my work and perhaps understanding it, or taking away inspiration, joy and hope.
PN: My work circles around the topic of people and their life, their circumstances, stories—photography for me is passionate engagement. It forces me to self-questioning, reconsidering pre-conceived understanding – and to make me and others think and sometimes simply to enjoy the moment. And that's what I wish from my audience to make them think, enjoy the moment and grasp some insights.
PhotoVerso: Do you guys have any other drops, either of recent past or on the horizon?
KAM: Apart from CVRD with Peter, I am also working on and finishing up a couple of different new projects and drops. As mentioned earlier I worked on a specifically for the NFT world created series which is ready to be minted. My Phoebe Lucy project “The New Fantastic Thing“. It is made up of animated gifs deriving from scientific cell-imagery. Cell images contain all the information of who we are and where we are coming from. In these 2 studies I materialize playful bodies, vibrant fauna, and frisky fables, imagining a possible evolution. I am also working on the notion of the “Sea“, creating videos with sound and animated moving still images. I have also photographed color blobs that painters left on the street in Venice Beach, CA during the lockdown and have been transforming them into new abstract images.
PN: Besides the CVRD series with Apollonia I also just released a short series titled DEVELOPER TRAY, a collection of videographs of Marlene, a young teenager I met occasionally to capture some photographs the way she wanted to see herself. A bigger series that has been released along with my photo book is titled Tango in the Big Mango. And furthermore I’m working on a long-term project about Bangkok again, and hopefully will finish it by the end of this year.
Karin Apollonia Mueller holds a Masters in Film and Photography from The Folkwang School, Essen, Germany. She has received numerous awards, fellowships and her work is exhibited continuously in solo and group shows across the United States and Europe. Her work has been placed in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Whitney Museum, New York; LACMA, Los Angeles, among others. She has published four monographs, Angels in Fall, On Edge, Timbercove and Gate.
Peter Nitsch was born and raised in the Upper Palatinate, Germany. Working with photography and video, he received his BA in communication design from the Department of Design at the Munich University of Applied Sciences (MUAS). In 2020, Nitsch became a lifetime member of the Royal Photographic Society of Thailand. He has published three monographs, Bangkok-Urban Identites, Shophouses and Tango in the Big Mango.