Conversation with Beat Presser
You work in a small place like Basel, but you still have something to say, so you must “cry” so that people can hear you!
What about the Village Cry?
The first issue of our paper, published in November 1976 was called Palm Beach News. It was a sort of catalogue for my exhibition Daydreams and Nightmares. The paper got a lot of attention and very good press. We had created something new for Europe. Carl Laszlo, an international art collector based in Basel, suggested we call it, The Village Cry. “You work in a small place like Basel, but you still have something to say, so you must “cry”, so that people can hear you!” “You” was Rolf Paltzer and I.
Together we were responsible for the publication, the content, the theme, the texts, the photography, the design, the advertisement, and the distribution. The first issue under the new name was dedicated to fashion photography in Paris. With my friends Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, we created together the issue No. 3 on Rational Architecture in its Historic Context it was quite playful and drew a lot of attention. The next issue was all about movies. I travelled to Paris and photographed Klaus Kinski. Five years later, this connection paved the way to the collaboration with the German film director Werner Herzog.
Despite being a small and quiet place, Basel offers a good working atmosphere, and it is organized and well connected with the world.
What is your relationship with Basel?
I was born, went to school and studied photography in Basel. My photography studio, my darkroom and my archive are here, very close to the River Rhine. I like to move around the world a lot, but I also like to come back to Basel to do my printing, to prepare and organize my exhibitions, publications, and photography workshops, as well as to see my family and friends. Last but not least, it offers two great opportunities for outdoor activities which I both enjoy very much: swimming in the Rhine during the summer and an ice rink for ice speed skating during the winter.
Beat Presser studied photography and cinema in Basel, Paris and New York. In the mid-seventies he became the editor of the magazines Palm Beach News and Village Cry. Today he works as a freelance photographer, produces photo stories, teaches photography and exhibits his work.