Valentin Goppel

2022 Highly Commended


Between the Years

When the lockdown came, I had just finished my last photo project. I was visiting my parents when the news first reported that the universities were closing.
Thrilled at the news of an extended vacation, I wrote a note on the kitchen table. “Uni’s are closed, might stay a few more days.” I was so full of energy that I didn’t finish the sentence, the note ended with the words “may stay a fe-“. The joy didn’t last long. At some point I had looked through the Netflix watchlist and listened to all my favourite records, then I wished for university back. When I eventually got the task to photograph my generation in times of corona, I finally grasped the relevance of the subject and got a taste for the story in its entirety. Suddenly it felt like I had a special view on things, like maybe my perspective was even relevant.
All the young people in my environment were possible protagonists, all of them had a story to tell, and for all of them the pandemic was an exceptional situation. It was not difficult to explain to them what pictures I was looking for, we were all in the middle of it and knew how the other was feeling. I took photos of acquaintances and acquaintances of acquaintances. For the most part, however, they were the people I had been missing for months. I sometimes moved into their shared flats, photographed them smoking pot and having lunch with their parents.

In scenes both observed and imagined, I tried to find a way of capturing the weight of our disorientation. And somewhere In between, I started to underĀ­stand that corona was merely a catalyst to what was already there. The “not having a clue where to go with yourself”, not yet knowing where to hold on when everything is shaking: That’s maybe part of the state between being a kid and being an adult anyway.

About the Photographer

Valentin Goppel (b. 2000) is a German photographer who at the age of 18 had his first solo exhibition. This led to an internship with German photographer Florian Hammerich who has since become an important mentor. Since September 2019, he has been studying documentary photography in Hanover, Germany. The subject of youth particularly appeals to him and his friends and himself are at the centre of it. He has since been working on behalf of newspapers such as DER SPIEGEL and DIE ZEIT. He is currently working on his first photo book on the feeling of youth.