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The Photograph

There is this photograph by Michael Schmidt, depicting a girl laid out on a table. I saw it for the very first time at Eleni Koroneou’s Art Forum in Greece. This was in 1996 and the photograph was valued at around 1,000 deutsche marks [approximately $700]. At the time, I was doing an internship and didn’t have the money to buy it. When I finally got to a point where I was able to pay for it, I couldn’t find it. The photograph then appeared two or three years ago at Galerie Nordenhake in Berlin. I called them and tried buying it, but it had already been put aside for a collector from New York. He hadn’t paid for it yet but did so after having received word from the gallery of my interest in buying it.

I’ve been waiting for this particular photograph for 20 years and a mere five editions exist in total. What entices me about it is that you’re unsure of whether the girl is dead or alive—the feeling of uncertainty is what draws me in. I met Michael Schmidt a year prior to his death and asked him about the photograph. He told me that the girl had a nosebleed and was indeed alive in the image.

I’ve been wanting to get my hands on it for so long but chances are slim that the day will ever come. I’ve tried buying it from the owners of the five editions but none of them wanted to let it go. And why should they? It’s a fantastic photograph.

The Car

I longed for a Saab 900 when I was a student at university, the model with the ignition key placed between the driver and front seat passenger. It was like starting an airplane. The form of the car was so streamlined, so beautiful and elegant. I scraped all my money together and bought it—in cash.

Once I started driving the car however, I realized that gasoline is expensive and added together with taxation on automobiles, it left me no money to live on, so I had to sell it. I’ve never tried to get it back but it still strikes me as a beautiful object.

The Drawing

Years ago, I came across a drawing by Mimmo Paladino. It was quite small, in red, and was on display at his gallery for 8,000 deutsche marks [approximately $5,500]. At the time that was a lot of money for such a small drawing, but I found it so incredibly beautiful. I told the gallerist that I wanted to buy it but that I’d need a year to scrape the money together, which he agreed to. I spent a whole year saving up, which was quite difficult as I wasn’t making a lot then. When I had the money, I drove to his gallerist in Munich to collect the drawing.

After I told him (with a relative amount of joy in my voice) that I wanted to buy the Paladino drawing, he replied that the frame which the drawing was in cost an additional 200 deutsche marks [$140]—a figure that I didn’t have. So there I stood, after having saved up all my money for a whole year and driven across Germany to buy the drawing, needing to pay for the frame that the drawing was in. The gallerist ended up literally unframing the drawing, putting it into a cardboard box and handing it to me. I’m not sure what he wanted to use the frame for anyway.

The drawing still haunts me from time to time. That moment of buying it was so unpleasant that I didn’t want to have anything to do with it anymore, so I ended up selling the drawing myself.

The House

There’s a 1920s house built by German architect Hans Poelzig in Berlin, just on the corner of Linienstraße and Weidingerstraße. It used to house a kindergarten in the ’80s but has stood empty ever since. I went by once and took a look at it; it’s full of small zinks and all kinds of interior objects fit for children.

It has multiple stories and is completely neglected as the owner found it too costly to renovate. I wanted to open a store there or create some flats for people to live in, so I tried buying it and came close, but I hesitated and the owner withdrew his offer.

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