In der Fremde is a haunting and cinematic photographic survey of Berlin through the lens of an eternal outsider. Framed by Alaeff’s complex cultural background, spanning from Yemen to Germany to the United States, the images are tinged with a deep sense of longing and touch on themes of migration, personal belonging, and the (universal) search for home.
Facetten einer dunklen Stadt. Der New Yorker Fotograf Romeo Alaeff zieht nachts durch die Straßen Berlins, um mit der Kamera Szenen einzufangen. Dabei möchte er Klischees vermieden. | Facets of a dark city. The New Yorker photographer Romeo Alaeff moves through the streets of Berlin at night to capture scenes with the camera. He wants to avoid stereotypes.
Diese Bilder zeigen die echte Berliner Nacht. | These pictures show the real Berlin night.
Unterwegs zur Geisterstunde – Der Fotograf Romeo Alaeff zeigt eine andere Seite Berlins. | En Route to the Witching Hour - The photographer Romeo Alaeff shows another side of Berlin.
Romeo Alaeff works by association, using a tight rapprochement of successive views to engender something totally different, in a kind of discreet, displaced surrealism... He reminds us that while we may be brother and sister, we do not choose our family. Free association, the unexpected, the melancholic and the fantastical are the key to some of these dual images, while others make it clear that the aspects of reality shown do not have to be far removed from each other: in their very ordinariness they can readily generate a kind of poetry... and here we find that endless interplay of automatisms, the waking dream, the Surrealist aura so skillfully, so delightfully renewed for our own time.
Alaeffs Faszination gilt dem Alltäglichem, dem Nahbaren und dem Authentischem, das sich wie beiläufig dem Beobachter präsentiert, wenn er sich für die Magie des Unerwarteten offen genug zeigt. | Alaeff’s fascination with the mundane, the accessible and the authentic, presents itself casually to the observer, if one is open to the magic of the unexpected.
Photographic representations of Berlin often fixate on transgressive parties, political histories or tourist landmarks. In this landscape, In Der Fremde is a singular document. Much like in Robert Frank’s The Americans, the photographs reveal the keen but estranged observations of the Ausländer, the enduring stranger in a strange land. In this context, the images are investigative, but keep their distance; they are impassive and serene, yet also tinged with melancholy and alienation. Technically impressive, the photographs are dark and atmospheric, yet luminous and crisp with detail, like carefully staged film sets. Alaeff appears to make no conscious attempt to document Berlin’s glamorous or seedy underground, even if at times he inadvertently does. Rather, the hauntingly beautiful images depict a sense of longing, a search for home, and an unrequited love for the city.