Felix von der Osten • Mukhiani
Please introduce yourself: what’s your name, where are you from, what do you do?
My name is Felix von der Osten, I am from Cologne, Germany and I am a freelance photographer as well as a Master student of the FH Dortmund. I am especially interested in social- and cultural issues, documenting it with analog large- and medium- format photography, as well with the Wet Plate Collodion process.
What is your relationship with photography? How did you get into it & and what keeps you interested/ motivated?
Very unspectacular. I started out doing long exposure and was fascinated by all the moving lights. Also I photographed my friends and classmates whenever I could. It was more a tool to document the moment. From there, I went down the road. Now all my friends and their amazing work keeps me motivated to push my limits as well.
Tell me about your project „Mukhiani“, what was the driving force behind creating it? What was your intention, and how did you come up with the Idea?
Mukhiani is a micro-district on the far outside of Tbilisi, Georgia. It mostly consists of these very greyish Soviet-style concrete buildings made to accommodate a lot of people. Once the Valley was covered in oak trees, called the »Mukha-oak«, which gave it its name. »Mukhiani« is some kind of town inside the city of Tbilisi. People from the inner city of Tbilisi never go there and were often amazed that I wanted to. Vise versa, people in Mukhiani leave the neighborhood almost never, as they have everything they need in their cosmos. These old grey buildings are home for generations of Georgians.
I literally slipped into this place during my first stay with a university course in Tbilisi back in 2013. I was trying to make work about the Metro in Tbilisi, with its old Soviet Union style wagons and stations – but it wasn’t really working out for me. So I rode the subway to the last stop outside of Tbilisi and got off to wander around. There I saw these giant sand coloured concrete structures from afar and I instantly wanted to check them out. I walked through these massive courtyards. Soon people noticed me, as I looked a bit out of place maybe, but they were very friendly and invited me to a birthday party. It was a wonderful afternoon with a lot of wine and self-made moonshine. This is where we became friends. The pictures I made that day were only snapshots of the day and it wasn’t really a project. (also maybe because I was very drunk). I left the next day to go home to Germany.
So it was natural for me to find the place again and photograph proper two years later when I returned to Georgia for Kolga Tblisi Photo. It was also a matter for the heart, to give my friends prints of all the funny group pictures we did while celebrating. That was really what opened all the doors on the 2nd journey. People really, really, appreciate if a stranger returns to give them a print of themselves. So while I was in Georgia I went there as much as I could, also sometimes bringing friends with me – some friends that also attended the photo festival – just to hang out and have a good time. These guys know how to celebrate! After all it was just natural for me to properly document the little insight of the community I had. Everyone treating me as a old friend gave me access to everywhere. That aside we had extreme language barriers, but it all worked out find and we had a lot of fun.
What are you currently working on, and – if there is – what is your next project/ journey?
At the moment I mostly working on assignments and trying to make it in the freelance world. Also I have a lot unprocessed film from a trip through America last year, that really need some attention 🙂 As for a journey: I really want to return to Montana to continue my work “The Buffalo that could not dream”.