Alexander Bondar is a photographer who co-created Zoopark Collective with photographer and publisher Tatyana Palyga. We met Alexander in Kreuzberg. He told us about his journey from Russia to Germany, why he didn’t like Berlin in the beginning and why Karl-Marx-Straße is now his favorite spot in the city.
Where are you from?
I am from Lytkarino, a small town in the suburbs of Moscow.
What is the strongest memory you have of your hometown?
It’s a bit random, but I remember skiing alone in the forest on a winter’s night, in total silence through light snow. My home town is surrounded by forests and we had a beautifully lit skiing track. I really miss proper winters here in Berlin.
What did you do in Russia before you came to Germany?
I studied electronics in Moscow and worked in some odd jobs until I moved to Saint Petersburg in 2008. There I changed my field completely and began studying photography.
What brought you to Berlin?
Last year, I came to Berlin for a postgraduate internship in Galerie Kuchling, in Karl-Marx Allee. Before that I did my photography Masters in the Czech Republic and a one-year exchange at Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts in Poland. Berlin never attracted me as a city where I’d like to live or take pictures, but as much as I love Prague, nothing happened there for me career-wise and I hoped Berlin will be better. Here the audience is much bigger and much more international artists live here. But I have to say that after some time I came to terms with the place itself and started to like it very much anyway.
What do you do with your time? What is your profession? Why?
I’m an artist and I spend most of my time taking pictures on the streets and making books and prints on their basis. Rest of the time I spend tending to side projects, helping part-time with exhibition management in a nice gallery (Galerie Kuchling) and freelancing for money.
What is typical about Berlin?
For me Berlin is unique because of its multifacetedness. It has so many layers which are present at the same time – which of course any other city has as well. I like how all the layers are covered with millions of signs, graffiti, street art etc. Also, I like the non-pretentious and DIY spirit. I hated last winter though, it was horrible.
What is your contribution to make Berlin a little bit more beautiful?
We created Zoopark with Tanya Palyga as a platform to show our photography work, mostly in the form of printed publications. I hope with our Zoopark project and our studio we’ll make our small contribution to the local scene. In addition to that I hope that we’ll be able to host in our studio workshops, concerts, talks, to the benefit of the community.
What is your favorite place in Berlin?
Karl Marx Straße, because it’s one of the liveliest streets in the town. I like its Turkish flair, its vividness and shabbiness.