Reich’s theatrically staged photographs reveal the histories and mythologies that under gird the relationships so common in today’s Berlin. Costuming the models in these powerful symbols (the swastika, the tallis) is both a provocation and a simple representation of what often remains unspoken between the Jews and non-Jewish Germans who today are lovers and friends. The photos function as a critique of the fantasy of denationalized, fluid identities, in which the third generation interacts without addressing this history; but the playfulness of the staging, the laugh on the lips of the non-professional models, also lampoons the reverent “Never Forget” of both well intentioned and cynical politicians and communal leaders. Indeed, the series’ name -imagine - can be read as a subtle rejoinder to what can feel like an 11th commandment: remember.
As an intentional part of his project, Reich uses his Jewish and German friends in Berlin as his models. The bride is Israeli cabaret performer Nitsan Bernstein, and the groom is German and American professional model Sebastian Sauvé. The guests at the wedding include a formerly Haredi Jew from B’nei B’rak who is being trained as a Reform rabbi; a German Jew who teaches and translates Hebrew and Yiddish; and an Israeli-American painter, who comes from a national-religious settler family in the West Bank, and who spends his weekends at Berghain (the renowned gay nightclub) where he is widely known and recognizable, a club kid with dyed-blonde hair. One of the “Nazis” in the photo-shoot is the grandson of an SS officer. Reich says, “There is a kind of absurdity which reflects our lives here. But in the same way that it looks provocative, it’s the most normal thing in our lives.”
Today, Reich would like to boldly face the past, and look at it from new perspectives. This is why he feels the urge to deal artistically with the image of the ultimately evil non-Jew - the Nazi - and create a new discussion.
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