Felix von der Osten
Felix von der Osten (b. 1989) is a freelance documentary photographer and drone pilot from Cologne, Germany.
He is especially interested in social and cultural issues, documenting them with analogue large and medium format photography, as well with the wet plate collodion process.
In 2014, he participated in Advanced Visual Storytelling I+II at the Danish School of Media and Journalism in Aarhus (DK). At the end of 2015 he was part of the 28th Eddie Adams Workshop (XXVIII).
He currently lives in Cologne and will complete his Bachelor in 2016 at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Dortmund. He plans to do a Masters programme as well.
Felix won the Breakthrough Award of the British Journal of Photography and was named Emerging Photographer by PDN. He was also in the final round of various competitions like the Leica Oskar Barnack Newcomer Awards and Magnum’s 30 under 30.
His photographs have been published in CNN, BrandEins, Photographic Museum of Humanity and the GUP Magazin for example. He has also exhibited internationally.
Felix is a hobby magician, specialising in sleight of hand card tricks.
Felix will be part of Jaaga's pioneering public art project in Bangalore: Urban Pastures. The vision of this project is to introduce contemporary art at 50 new bus shelters being installed within one specific constituency in North Bangalore. The project presents a tremendous opportunity for art, in this case photography, to occupy an unusual public canvas within city space. A space that is accessible visually to all strata of society and represents a mini-ecosystem.
But the first happy feeling about it faded fast and a deep panic rose from the bottom of my stomach. What should I photograph there? I don't know my way around and I don't know anyone there! How can I find something to photograph? These kinds of questions popped into my head. This is where I started reading. We were sent a Chapter of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities by Jaaga DNA in preparation for the workshop. The feeling of the novel was perfect for the uncertain monster we were moving towards: Bangalore.
I heard a lot of stories about India from friends who visited before, talking about the chaos in the streets, about the culture and habits but as well about the great local food. At a certain point in my research I stopped and resigned myself. One can only go to one point in theory, from then on you just have to go yourself - right into the unknown. It occurred to me that this would be a big adventure. An adventure into a foreign country and a foreign culture and that I wanted to take in as much as I could for me.
The actual time in Bangalore passed super fast. The first days, still under influence of a heavy jet lag, in this loud, colourful, full and crazy city passed like a movie in front of my eyes. One day of orientation was enough – then I and my colleague Joscha Steffens were thrown out our comfort zone and right into the cold water of Bangalore.
Working together with Jaaga DNA was fantastic. Everyone had a massive amount of motivation to make this project happen. All the Jaaga Ladies were there for us if we needed any assistance or help.
Especially getting together with the Indian photographers was defining. Almost immediately people were talking about ideas and approaches. Of course I was very curious where my two teammates, Mahesh Bhat & Mahesh Shantaram, would take me to in the city of Bangalore to photograph for the Urban Pastures project.
Our work and mine started to take shape and was to result in an essay about the lakes & rivers in Bangalore. Always while we were on the road, either in a car or on the back of a motorcycle, I was reminded of the story of Italo Calvino and the shepherds who wonder about the weird expansion that went on in the city. I was told by Mahesh Bhat to see with my own eyes what it meant that the goats would recognise the grass on the traffic island and the villages inside of this everlasting concrete jungle.
With both photographers I got a unique peek into the city, that grew so fast, it probably didn’t even realise it. Both helped me with ideas and suggestions for my own project. Not only did we spend time together during the workshop, but also on our off-time we came together to eat, discuss and develop. So Joscha’s workshop partner Pinky Ghandi helped me tremendously with the realisation of further photography, after the workshop was already finished but by no means everything was photographed. A unique friendship formed between all participants of the workshop, without which a straight, direct, unflattened insight of the city would not have been possible. Not even talking of the overall access and language barriers.
All of this wouldn’t have been possible without the active involvement of the Goethe-Institut, which made our participation possible; and fostered a fantastic end result. The encouragement by Maureen & Christoph, and their interest in our stories was very inspiring. Every interaction with them, along with everyone else at the Goethe-Institut was positive. It felt as if we had all known each other for a long time after only a couple of days – I felt embraced in a big family of Bangalore.
I hope that future participants of this experience will find such a positive encounter on all accounts as I did. This was overall a very unique project and I would be happy to come back to Bangalore again, anytime. I will always have wonderful memories of friendship and photography from Bangalore, that I would not want to miss under any circumstance.