Pierre-Ange Carlotti’s Hangover

A Rendezvous with the Photographer and Consummate Bachelor in Berlin

  • Interview: Thom Bettridge
  • Photography: Lukas Gansterer
  • Images/Photos Courtesy Of: Pierre-Ange Carlotti

It’s 5pm, and Pierre-Ange Carlotti and I are sharing a bottle of Coca-Cola in the kitchen of an Altbau in Berlin-Mitte. The last time we had a seen each other was 5am earlier that day, bidding farewell from the bacchanal that followed his book-signing at 032c Workshop. Carlotti takes out his phone to reveal a picture he took of me during the night: a close-up of my face, eyes closed, forcefully inhaling a cigarette as though I were using its smoke to scratch some kind of itch inside my mind. I look terrible, forlorn. “I can ruin a lot of careers,” Carlotti laughs, joking about his countless photos of fashion industry figures in compromising, late-night positions.

Since his emergence documenting the world of the Vetements crew (his friends), Carlotti and his work have been incorrectly lumped into the category of nightlife photography. But in fact the context of “the party” is just one of Carlotti’s many entryways into the cognitive landscape of his images, a world full of ecstasy, sex, and often pathos. Carlotti lovingly recalls the experience of taking his first pictures during nights out in his native siasica and waiting for prints at the shop the next day. This kind of time — the hangover, not the party — is the zone in which his photographs take place: the foggy state of mind where memories hang on an edge between beauty and utter banality.

Thomas Bettridge

Pierre-Ange Carlotti

What’s a typical day like in your life?

It depends. One day I work, one day I don’t. Some days I’m supposed to and I don’t. [Laughs] I wake up at nine or 10 if I can. I’m obsessed with pilates. I wake and bake also. I should stop doing that.

What’s it like doing pilates when you’re high?

Amazing, actually. I just wish we had some music. If I could listen to Rihanna while I was doing my pilates, I could stay on the machine for three hours. I’m quite chill, I think, especially in Paris. We all live in the same area, everything is 20 minutes away. I like to go to La Perle. It’s an old bar that used to be very fashionable, but it’s not really anymore. We know the guys. We arrive at 6pm and leave at 2am completely drunk. The waiters are friendly there and they get drunk with us. In Paris, it’s quite precious when you have people like that. Right next to it there’s a bar called Le Connetable, and it’s open until 6am. It’s owned by a 55-year-old woman with her husband so the crowd is very weird. It’s just an empty restaurant playing very bad disco music.

Your new book is called Bachelor. What does being a bachelor mean to you?

You’re 28. You’ve been to a good school. You’re cute. Maybe not the hottest, but still something. For me, that’s what it is.

Stressing out.

Yeah! Wondering, at least.

What are you stressing out about?

I don’t know. [Laughs] I’m quite happy with myself, but I guess I feel the need to be with someone sometimes. The desire of it.

Do you believe in love?

Of course.

Have you been in love before?

Three times.

How do you find what you’re attracted to when you’re at parties taking pictures?

I like looking at people. I’m very attracted to people in general. I love a lot of different types of people. It’s not like I’m only going to shoot 16-year-old boys looking cute, or only girls. I shoot everything. Young, old, whatever.

Image courtesy of Pierre-Ange Carlotti (Excerpt from “Bachelor”)

Image courtesy of Pierre-Ange Carlotti (Excerpt from “Bachelor”)

I guess that’s part of being a bachelor too, you’re checking everyone out.

I’m open to everything! Sometimes I wonder if I was in a relationship with someone, would I take the same pictures? Because it’s often very sexualized, or at least you can feel like there’s some naughty thought behind it. So, are you cheating on someone when you do this?

How did you start taking photographs?

I always had a camera as a toy from my mother. When I was 13 I started to go out with these girls that were 18, in Corsica. They had disposable cameras and were taking pictures all night. Then the next day we’d go for an ice cream and go to one hour processing. You were eating your ice cream and then you would get your pictures back from the night before. I always thought it was really cool, so I started to do it also.

Do you think some people misunderstand your work?

A lot, I think. For example the people who worked on designing the book, they were talking about the party. But I was just like, “You don’t have the same troubles we have. When you go out it’s just like once a month to feel a little bit relaxed.” I’m very happy when people are putting a bit of sadness in that. Joyful sadness. It’s not just people wasted, or in a club.

I feel like this kind of sadness, especially when you’re in a dark room, can be really intense. The way you see someone sitting down by themselves, or smoking a cigarette and breathing in all this tension. And then you watch it release from people’s bodies...

I always say the dance floor is filled with selfish people. When you dance for four hours, how much of that time do you spend dancing alone, with yourself?

Do people send you pictures of themselves?

Sometimes men do. Sometimes I follow people I don’t know, and they follow me back and you start to have this Instagram relationship.

Like flirting.

Like long speed dating. You fancy the person, so you’re hoping for this person to fancy you a little bit, but the only thing you’re doing is liking this person. When you get a like from some people you’re like, “Okay, job is done.” I was reading The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again), and it was talking about that. It was also talking about the fact that back in the day you would go to a party where you had a big crush on a person, and you had to wait, like, two more weeks to find a party where he was going. Because you didn’t have a fucking Instagram to post a selfie and follow him and get a like. He said that the first time you see the person again you’d know the first sentence you’d say, just because you played it in your mind for two weeks before it happened in reality. Everything was quite precious. Today we’re just like, “Okay, see you tomorrow.” You have everybody in your pocket.

In a way, there hasn’t been a generation that has so many pictures of themselves. I wonder what it’s going to be like when we’re old. There’s going to be so much documentation of us.

And also when we die, your fucking Instagram is still going to be open. I don’t know if it will stop. I deleted the apps on my phone. I don’t even remember my passwords so I never go on my computer. It’s been, like, two months.

But it’s cool, because when you’re the one who takes the pictures, these moments exist through you.

It’s not a waste of my time going out, true.

Did you manage to make out with everyone in Berlin last night?

No, actually. I didn’t kiss anybody. Still single! But I should make a Bachelor book tour where I go to every city and go on dates. That would be fun. Find me a husband.

  • Interview: Thom Bettridge
  • Photography: Lukas Gansterer
  • Images/Photos Courtesy Of: Pierre-Ange Carlotti