Frank Sperling

Plates - Street Performers, Bandung, Indonesia

Works Bio


Frank Sperling inquires into the condition of being a human. He starts by looking at the surface, the skin, then goes deeper. He explores the tension between the given socio-cultural facts and the individuals exposed to these circumstances.

In photo albums from the beginning of the 20th century, Sperling discovers again and again the same poses and similar faces; lined up next to each other, they illustrate how much these humans, despite being individuals, are shaped by the dominating forces of that time. In his series New Order (2013) he collects portraits of no less than 3.500 Chinese boys and girls, all of them with white shirts and ties and similar haircuts, with the same posture and facial expression.

Spontaneously, the question arises: what will become of them? Will they have a chance to develop their independent personalities? Or what will become of those boys in Istanbul, who mimic the power poses of the political clique, yet whose soft, open faces (still) offer many possibilities of development? In his most recent work Private Hermann, dedicated to a man with a bipolar disorder, Sperling is, for the first time, concerned with „an individual in all his facettes in order to explore the relation between surface and inner conditions, more than in the previous works“ (Sperling).

Framed photographs in format 75 x 50 cm

The series Plates from 2013, being shown here, pinpoints the issue „skin“ or „surface“. Produced in the streets of the Indonesian city of Bandung, these photographs present us with extraordinary persons. Greased with silver paint to create a shiny epidermis, these young men act as „living sculptures“ in the middle of hectic traffic. They appear to be nothing but surface, and their rehearsed gestures underline their schematic, de-individualized doing and being.

Their shimmering skin seems to reject any further demand or inquiries, yet at the same time this surface unveils the underlying condition of their existence: These exotic beings, reminding us of classical or science-fiction sculptures, are pitiful creatures who in order to survive resort to means threatening their health if not lives. They are orphans begging for handouts for their organization „Komunitas Silver Peduli“. In the end, what remains are their alert, observing eyes that convey strong individualities. Each one of these seemingly depersonalized men insists on being a mensch.

The series of photographs is completed by differently nuanced silk screens that reflect the environment of the beholder as well as the barely perceptible coloration of the photos themselves.

Plates in a box

The series presented here consists of ten inkjet prints and two silkscreens in format 41,4 x 27 cm; they come in a handy, specially crafted box. The price for this box ist 850 € plus tax. Also, the photos are available in the format 100 x 66 cm for 3.800 € plus tax each.

You will find more information on Frank Sperling‘s website. And please see his works in our exhibition Just Photographs.



Frank Sperling

Born 1984 in in Neustrelitz, lives and works in Berlin



2011-2015 Studies of Communication Arts (M.A.) focus on photography with Prof. Gosbert Adler and Prof. Bettina Lockemann at the Braunschweig University of Art

2011 Bachelor, Communication Design (B.A.) with focus on photography with Prof. Peter Hendricks, Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts and Design

2004-2007 Training as a photographer



2015  Lecturer in Photography, BEST-Sabel Designschule Berlin

2009-2013  Visiting Lecturer in Photography EVA-class at the Photo+ Medienforum Kiel


Scholarships and Awards

2015  „Voies Off Prize“, Arles, Frankreich / Finalist

2015  „Dummy Award“ / Shortlist

2013  ISAP scholarship of the DAAD, Study stay at the ITB Bandung, Indonesia

2007  first winner in the photographers craft, Schleswig-Holstein

2006  3rd prize of the FFA

2005  2nd prize in the 6th photo contest / Lbs Photo+Medien Kiel



2016  „Asse“ / Niedersächsische Landesvertretung, Berlin

2015  „Voies Off Prize“, Arles, Frankreich, Finalist

2015  „Dummy Award 2015, Shortlist“, Fotobookfestival, Kassel; Fotoleggendo, Rom; IED, Madrid; PhotoIreland, Dublin; Kaunas Photo, Kaunas; Fotobok Festival, Fotogalleriet, Oslo; Encontros da Imagem, Braga; Fotobok Gbg 15, Göteborg; Fotoistanbul, Istanbul

2015  „Private Hermann“, in the exhibition series „Seizing the Ivory Tower“, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin

2015  „Ort und Irrtum“, Galerie 52, Essen; Galerie Bohai, Hannover

2015  „Es schien Sinn im Versuch“, Flur11, Brunswick (Solo with Hauke Burghart)

2014  „14. Kunstmarkt“ , Art Academy, Brunswick

2013  „Es rauscht im Ayranbrunnen“, Gallery of the Art Academy, Brunswick

2012  „photokina academy“, Cologne

2012 L eipzig Book Fair

2011  „gehängt“, alte Druckerei, Kiel

2011  „Körpersichten“, Lessingbad, Kiel

2010  „Fotofestung“, Festung Friedrichsort, Kiel (Group)

2010  „Einblick/Ausblick“, Muthesius Kunsthochschule, Kiel

2009  „3meter50“, Lessingbad, Kiel

2008  Dauerausstellung NDR, Kiel


Books and Catalogues

2015  Catalogue „Ort und Irrtum“, Galerie Bohai

2011  „Wort für Wort“, ed. by Oswald Egger

2011  „Das schönste Kiel“, ed. by Martin Fengel

2011  Catalogue „Körpersichten“

2009  Catalogue „3meter50“