Notorious for its red-light district and most famous for the fact that the Beatles started their career here more than 50 years ago, this workingman´s area in Hamburg, Germany, has always been a melting pot for people from all walks of life and backgrounds.
The liberal spirit of the Quarter attracted many colorful figures from the fringes of society, like sailors, drinkers, prostitutes, artists, gamblers and dreamers. Here they could be themselves without being labeled, judged or looked down upon. Here they were not stigmatized for being different or maladjusted. Of course, there has always been a rough edge to St. Pauli, too, but the intrinsic character of the area was always based on a spirit of tolerance, respect, honesty and caring among those living here.
In recent years the restructuring and commercial exploitation of the neighborhood have been advanced rigorously, entailing the destruction of many socio-cultural structures that had grown organically over decades. It seems that the territory and the leeway to allow for otherness, uniqueness, individuality and nonconformism are getting scarcer by the day.
The photographic series is an attempt to capture the muted world of an outdated, transient and disintegrating St. Pauli. A vanishing cosmos that lies well hidden behind the superficial touristy veneer.
I was interested in the faces and the stories of the long-time residents, their everyday world, their small struggles and simple pleasures. Those characters who sometimes appear to have fallen out of time or seem to be stuck in-between different eras; with traces of their wilder days on one side of their lives and the apprehension of an uncertain future on the other. For how much longer will they be able to call St. Pauli home?.
About Manuel Armenis
Manuel Armenis is an award winning independent street photographer based in Hamburg, Germany. He was born in Mannheim (Germany). He studied at Icart, École de Photographie in Paris (France), and at the University of the Arts in London (England). Since graduating he has been working as an independent filmmaker and photographer. The emphasis of his practice is the realization of long-term projects with a focus on exploring the human condition within everyday and commonplace urban environments. Manuel´s work has been exhibited internationally in galleries and was published in leading contemporary photography magazines and online. Manuel lives and works in Hamburg, Germany. [Official Website]