Photographer Juergen Teller’s most current reserve, “Donkey Person and Other Tales,” is a 608-web site tome of pics taken in excess of the study course of three a long time. The staggering tale powering the title and protect impression — a self-portrait of the German photographer laying bare throughout the again of a donkey — is instructed 50 webpages in.

A quick passage known as “The Donkey Ride” information a harrowing incident that took place in Turkey in the mid-1980s. As Teller writes, he and a previous girlfriend endured a extended and frightening bus journey that took them to a desert city in which his companion commenced sensation so unwell she ended up in medical center. While getting a crack from her bedside, Teller ventured out for a wander. He finished up accepting a donkey journey from a man who, unbeknownst to Teller, would sexually assault him on the animal’s back again.

He managed to combat his attacker off but the aspects of the tale are grim, and the experience impacted him so deeply he was left unable to chat about it for several years just after. “I failed to inform any one about it,” he stated throughout an job interview in his London studio. “I was so weirded out about it, obviously… I couldn’t say something to my girlfriend at the time. I was totally in this world of my possess and didn’t connect considerably with the outside planet, so that is 50 % why we broke up.”

So right after these a horrific encounter, what possessed Teller to photograph himself, a long time later, lying bare and susceptible on top rated of a donkey?

The response commences in Frankfurt in 2013, when he was struck by a flashback of the incident whilst working on a general performance piece with the German artist Anne Imhof. Teller’s role was to direct a donkey from exterior the Portikus gallery into the white exhibition place and tie the animal up, a job that not only fearful him (he was apprehensive he may well get kicked) but also resurfaced reminiscences of what happened in Turkey.

‘Truly, deeply personal’

A couple of decades later on, Teller sourced his very own donkey and shot the cover image in his studio, a big intent-developed room in West London. “I said, ‘I want a donkey. I want to have a donkey listed here. And I want to be bare on the donkey. And I want to, somehow, create that tale,'” he described.

“You have very good experiences, bad ordeals, humorous activities. Life is total of complexity and I required to present that.”

Victoria Beckham, "Legs, bag and shoes," Marc Jacobs Campaign, Spring Summer 2008, Los Angeles, 2007.

Victoria Beckham, “Legs, bag and shoes,” Marc Jacobs Campaign, Spring Summertime 2008, Los Angeles, 2007. Credit rating: Juergen Teller

When it came to picking the book’s cover, Teller pointed out that he could have used a person of his far more acquainted images. He is shot iconic pics of Kate Moss, Victoria Beckham and Björk, to identify a number of — stars that “would have offered far more copies.” But it experienced to be this photograph, he said, for the reason that the task is “certainly, deeply particular.”

The e-book also features images and phrases from Teller’s closest collaborators, including the actor Charlotte Rampling, who Teller has photographed several moments. In a single shot, taken in the courtyard of his studio, the actor sits highly effective and poised keeping a attractive fox. A number of pages later on she is witnessed once again — this time on her fingers and knees as she eats or beverages from the similar white plate as the fox. The absurdity of the scene is a widespread trope for Teller, whose sense of humor is normally of the twisted wide range.

"Charlotte Rampling, a Fox, and a Plate," No.15, Document magazine, London,

“Charlotte Rampling, a Fox, and a Plate,” No.15, Doc journal, London, Credit history: Juergen Teller

"Charlotte Rampling, a Fox, and a Plate," No.9, Document magazine, London, 2016

“Charlotte Rampling, a Fox, and a Plate,” No.9, Doc journal, London, 2016 Credit history: Juergen Teller

Teller’s pics may well be a tiny tough to some — you will find tons of nudity, phallic shapes and pictures of slugs and frogs scattered all over the book’s web pages. His visuals often drive viewers to concern what is captivating, humorous or sad.

He’s also not one particular for proverbial pedestals. A photo of Kim Kardashian West shows her crawling in the dirt in thigh-higher stockings, boots, underwear and a fur coat with her bottom sticking up in the air. Shots of a totally naked Kristen McMenamy, in the meantime, expose the model’s most personal human body areas.

But Teller rejects the notion that he is demanding of his subjects these scenes come about pretty naturally, he explained, introducing that he never asks any one to do just about anything he considers inappropriate. “I you should not do nearly anything out of spite or exactly where they really don’t know what I’m carrying out,” he claimed. “It truly is usually apparent what I am immediately after, I guess.”

So what was he right after with the Kim Kardashian photo? “I was fully interested in her bum, and what that whole point is,” he stated plainly.

"Kanye, Juergen and Kim," No. 70, System magazine, Château d'Ambleville, Val d'Oise, 2015.

“Kanye, Juergen and Kim,” No. 70, System journal, Château d’Ambleville, Val d’Oise, 2015. Credit rating: Juergen Teller

But focusing far too greatly on the provocative nature of his get the job done would be reductive. And in any case, as he set it in standard German style: “The English are unusual about (nudity).”

Teller’s oeuvre is filled with a lot of tranquil times, like the many photos of his mother and his images of character. A series of poignant shots he took of the unwell small children at a hospice in London and the images of his dying uncle are raw and soulful, telling rather a distinctive story.

As British Vogue’s editor Edward Enninful wrote in his tribute to Teller in the e-book, the photographer exhibits people today “as their correct selves,” and is “fearless in his honesty.”
"Mum with plate in forest," Arena Homme Plus, Bubenreuth, Bavaria, 2016

“Mum with plate in forest,” Arena Homme Plus, Bubenreuth, Bavaria, 2016 Credit rating: Juergen Teller

Criticism & congrats

It truly is amazing, then, that the manner marketplace, a sector that is notoriously managing and obsessed with presenting perfection, has embraced his do the job. Equally confounding is that Teller prefers the manner sector to the artwork globe in quite a few techniques, obtaining the former “extra reliable” — but then the trend environment that he sees, by way of his personal function, is. He’s shot for quite a few superior trend manufacturers: his get the job done for Marc Jacobs, specifically the 2008 image of Victoria Beckam’s bare legs protruding from a browsing bag, and his shot of Joan Didion for Celine are just some of his finest-acknowledged campaigns.

Edward Enninful No. 3, Arena Homme Plus, London, 2017

Edward Enninful No. 3, Arena Homme Moreover, London, 2017 Credit: Juergen Teller

Teller is a photographer who emerged in the 1990s, a time when magazines had been however the supreme way to obtain fashion and lifestyle. He minimize his tooth at cult titles this kind of as The Facial area and i-D, and he is shot quite a few tales for Vogue. His new e book, he claimed, is a credit history to his like of journals.

Even with all the accomplishment and accolades, his perform isn’t generally comprehended. A photograph tale for W journal went viral very last calendar year soon after social media critics deemed the photographs lazy and disrespectful. The shoot, that includes a host of established and rising Hollywood talent together with James Corden, Riz Ahmed, Gal Gadot and Taylour Paige, took spot outdoors, typically in opposition to the backdrop of parked vehicles on an unremarkable avenue in Los Angeles. A tweet by Ahmed, in which he explained, “This @wmag shoot was the speediest of my existence. 20 seconds, two clicks. Juergen Teller is the OG,” appeared to spark substantially of the criticism — photos that were intended to be candid had been deemed careless by lots of.
Riz Ahmed No.1, W magazine, Los Angeles, 2021.

Riz Ahmed No.1, W magazine, Los Angeles, 2021. Credit rating: Juergen Teller

The outrage caught Teller entirely off-guard, and it stung. “Indeed I care, of system, I generally care — I care a lot,” he mentioned, reflecting on the backlash. “(The simple fact that they) did not get it, that seriously bothered me.”

He eventually turned the working experience into yet another venture, publishing the tweets and memes in the Spring/Summer 2021 difficulty of Pop journal less than the title “Notes About My Operate.”

Some of the illustrations or photos also appear in a new exhibition at the Suzanne Tarasieve Gallery in Paris. Called “Auguri,” Italian for “congratulations,” the show marks a new chapter for the 57-12 months-aged, who is freshly remarried to his inventive husband or wife and muse Dovile Drizyte. One particular of the photo sequence on show, “We are Creating our Foreseeable future Alongside one another,” displays the couple dressed in higher-visibility jackets on a variety of development web sites in Venice and Naples, where by they held their marriage this summer months. One particular image exhibits the pair grinning in matching yellow challenging hats as they pose with a playfully positioned drain pipe.
"We are building our future together" No.96, Napoli, 2021

“We are developing our upcoming with each other” No.96, Napoli, 2021 Credit score: Juergen Teller

A twist of destiny

Our interview operates about by a significant quantity of time but Teller is total of stories. Many much more are captured in the ebook, like the tale of his O.J. Simpson photograph, taken whilst taking pictures the infamous previous NFL star in Miami. Simpson, who Teller couldn’t hold out to get away from, evidently requested him issue blank, “Juergen, who do you think did it?” (referring to the murder of Nicole Brown) to which Teller replied, “O.J., I have acquired no plan. I was not there.” Apparently screaming with laughter, Simpson raised his fingers up to the sky and said, “Only God knows.”

O.J. Simpson, "Only God knows," Miami, 2000.

O.J. Simpson, “Only God appreciates,” Miami, 2000. Credit: Juergen Teller

A portion of the guide is also dedicated to a excursion Teller and Drizyte took to Iran right in advance of the pandemic. At the time yet again, the story takes an sudden convert when the pair pass up their return flight and conclusion up at Tehran airport on the day that Iran fired a number of missiles at Iraqi bases housing American troops in retaliation for a US drone strike that had killed Iran’s best commander, Qasem Soleimani, the week right before.

Unbelievably, the few ended up then offered, but declined, two seats on the unwell-fated Ukrainian Airways flight that was shot down by Iranian forces shortly after just take-off, killing all 176 persons on board.

Curating a reserve of this sort of scale could have proven overpowering, but Teller appears unfazed. In simple fact, he was eager to position out this is only Quantity 1, suggesting you will find far more to arrive.

His ambitions you should not finish there. He is organizing a enormous, museum-scale solo exhibit at Paris’ Grand Palais Éphémère, a 10,000-square-meter (108,000-square-foot) area erected to home exhibitions though the historic Grand Palais is under design. Accurately how he’ll use the place continues to be unclear but there’s minor doubt he’ll have problems filling it.

“Juergen Teller: Donkey Male and Other Stories,” published by Rizzoli, is out now.

By Indana