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Mobile Photography & Art – ‘Intimate Interview’ with Dieter Gaebel from Offenbach, Hessen, Germany


Our forty fifth interview in this new series of intimate interviews is with talented mobile photography and artist, Dieter Gaebel from Germany. Gaebel’s interview is a really engrossing and fascinating one, pulling back the layers of the everyday, revealing how eminent the world we live in, truly is. Enjoy!

To read the other published interviews in this series including artists, Adria Ellis, Rino Rossi, Mehmet Duyulmus, Alexis Rotella, Lou Ann Sanford Donahue, Irene Oleksiuk, Kerry Mitchell, Filiz Ak, Dale Botha, Lisa Mitchell, M. Cecilia Sao Thiago, Deborah McMillion, Rita Colantonio, Amy Ecenbarger, Jane Schultz, Anca Balaj, Joyce Harkin, Armineh Hovanesian, Kate Zari Roberts, Vicki Cooper, Peter Wilkin, Barbara Braman, Becky Menzies, Sukru Mehmet Omur, Sarah Bichachi, Michel Pretterklieber, Alon Goldsmith, Judy Lurie Whalberg, Andrea Bigiarni, Sean Hayes, Oola Cristina, Kathleen Magner-Rios, Linda Toki, Deb Field, Emilo Nadales, Lydia Cassatt, David Hayes, Jean Hutter, Frederic Deschênes, Mark Schnidman, Fatma Korkut, Fleur Schim, Rob Pearson-Wright and myself, go here.

All images ©Dieter Gaebel

What was your earliest childhood ambition?

Whipping a perfect forward roll. And as many as possible in a row.

First Recognition

The Swimmer Badge. I spent most of my childhood in water. The summer at the lake or in the swimming pool, the winter in the snow.

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First Job

As a child I used to sell flowers from our garden to the visitors in front of a hospital.

That’s how I earned my pocket money.

Private or State school

My father was a teacher at a small state village school. We lived above the classroom and I could hardly wait to go to school.

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University or work

I studied graphic design at university for visual communication.

Who was or still is your mentor?

There were and are many people in my life from whom I have learnt a lot and also learn today. In my childhood and youth it was my father. He supported me in everything I enjoyed. He also gave me my first Kodak camera and set up a darkroom in our guest toilet. During my studies it was my teacher for free drawing. She taught me that seeing exactly comes before drawing. Her words still accompany me today: “Be curious, courageous and crazy. Life is the exclusive invitation to a fascinating experiment.” And today? First my beloved wife Manuela, who always encourages me when I let my head down. And then my friend Andrea Bigiarini, founder of the New Era Museum, who drives me to free my artistic expression even further. We can’t achieve anything without the support and inspiration of other people.

One can rightly criticise many things about social networks. But it was through them that I got to know so many mobile artists who support and inspire me every day. Thank you all so much! Special thanks to my friends and mentors Egmont von Dyck (The iPhone Arts), Manuela Matos Monteiro (Mira Mobile Prize), Giulia Baita (MAG) and of course you, Joanne!

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How physically fit are you?

Okay for my age. Luckily, I have to walk a lot to take my pictures. Recently, I go to a gym once a week, which is equipped with electric muscle stimulation. After 20 minutes of intensive exercises I am knocked out. But I feel very good afterwards.

Ambition or Talent. What matters more to success?

I often hear how talented this or that artist is. The fact that in most cases there is a lot of work behind is often ignored. In my job I meet and talk to many successful and creative people. None of them came into the world and could write novels, run a business or paint. My personal experience is that talent only opens the door. Then it takes a lot of practice, ambition and perseverance for success.

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How politically committed are you?

During my studies I got to know Josef Beuys. He coined the term “social sculpture” which means that every person can contribute to the well-being of the community through creative action. That’s my way to be politically active.

What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?

I have everything I need. But if someone wanted to give me an old beautiful farmhouse in the country, then I would say: Yes, please, give it to me!

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What is my biggest extravagance?

I am a digital junkie. I own too much of all these toys and tools from Apple.

In what places are you happiest?

For me, it’s nature. Here I am at peace with myself. In a world full of noise it becomes very clear to me that true happiness and peace comes from ourselves.

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What ambitions do you still have?

Ohh, enough for the rest of my life. So far I only scratch the surface of many things. I would like to go deeper – especially with mobile art. I want to learn to play the piano and make music with Manuela and friends. I have already started. There is still so much I want to do and learn. I think I will never be bored.

What drives you on?

Curiosity. For me, curiosity is my most important driving force. New places, new interesting people, doing things for the first time.

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What is the greatest achievement of my life so far?

About 25 years ago my future didn’t look very rosy. I hadn’t finished my studies and I kept my head above water with odd jobs. So I put all my courage together and applied for the position of Marketing Manager of a respected company. There were many applicants who could show much more than I could.  Nevertheless, I managed to convince the owner of the company that I was just the right person for the job. I still don’t know how I did it.

What do you find most irritating in other people?

Arrogance. If they’re convinced they’re in possession of an absolute truth.

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If your twenty year old self could see you now, what would he think?

The guy has smile lines in his face, takes creative photos, still wears jeans, stands on his own legs and has a lovely wife. Could have been worse.

What object that you lost do you wish you still had?

La déesse de la rue – my Citroën DS. Every trip was a great pleasure and in my mind I drove along in this wonderful French “film noir” movies.

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What is the greatest challenge of our time?

We run the risk of self-destructing out of greed and stupidity. I think the greatest challenge of our time is that people learn again what it really means to be human. If I am aware of my own dignity, I cannot continue to destroy the environment, condemn people for their diversity, be greedy or use political violence.

Do you believe in the afterlife?

No, I don’t believe in it. Past and future exist only in our consciousness. Our consciousness creates the time for us to find our way in the world. When we die, time no longer matters. Therefore I do not believe in a life “before” or “after”. I think our task is to live a dignified life here and now and leave traces instead of dust.

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If you had to rate your life satisfaction so far, out of ten, what would it be?

7. And I hope that I will never get to the 10. Then there would be nothing more for me to do than to lie on a meadow and count the clouds.

Contact Details for Dieter Gaebel

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