Walter Pfeiffer Is No Nobody
Published April 19, 2010
Despite being honored with an exhibition at the Hyeres Festival for Fashion and Photography, Walter Pfeiffer is feeling a bit disappointed. “I was supposed to come to America for work, but I had to turn it down,” he says while sighing wistfully on the phone. “I feel like, if they’re going to show my work at Hyeres, I need to show up.” It’s not losing work that he’s upset about, but the prospect of missing New York in springtime. He kind of won’t let up about it: “Oh, I’m sad I won’t be coming to New York!” he says with a little groan. “Are you in the beautiful office of Interview? I love that office, with all of those books. I have the first five issues of Interview. I always wanted to be the first person in Zurich to have it. I was in New York when my first book came out, but I wouldn’t dare think people would want it. I thought I was a nobody.”
Nonetheless, the perpetually social Swiss photographer is excited about being the toast of the festival’s opening night. “I had a talk with Steven Klein last week about his exhibition there. I guess it will be a most glamorous event! I’m glad the attention came, but I’m also a little bit older,” he muses. “If the attention came when I was 30, what would I be doing with the rest of my life? I’ve met people who were influenced by my work, and I’ve always told them ‘Don’t take it too seriously.’ Because you never know, it might go away!”
After publishing two books in the last year, the sprightly, 60-something Pfeiffer seems unlikely to lose focus anytime soon. For Hyeres, he is showing a selection of photos of scantily-clad young boys and disarmingly random still lives, “Even with commercial work, I only take the work when it seems fun and like it’s a good fit for me,” he says. “I’ve been doing this so long that I’ve learned it’s not worth it otherwise. For every shoot, I need to be experiencing something or learning something new. Whenever I do a shoot, I try to do some new trick. Otherwise it becomes boring and it’s just work. For me it’s more like playing. Otherwise, it’s too heavy and the photos are just like… [SIGHS].”
THE HYERES PHOTO FESTIVAL OPENS APRIL 30.