We’re writing this in the year 2001, it’s spring, it’s morning and the people in the cafe are rummaging through the daily newspapers. The letters BSE have once again fought their way on to the headlines. I open the newspaper and end up lingering on “Effi” on the third page. And who is Effi, you might ask? A monkey, of course! A long article about the love and hate relationship between a mother and a daughter. You must have heard of Effi! I’m so disappointed by the colour photo attached to the article that I end up putting the newspaper down straightaway.

People in the limelight are often only called by their first name: Boris,
Steffi, Ulli, Mick, Bill. They can all afford to have a good photo portrait taken and the photographer gets to feel honoured too. Anyway, back to Effi…


I don’t have any commitments that day, so I drive to my studio – in the car, the idea of going to the zoo and taking my whole photographic studio with me makes me laugh out loud. The face of Humphrey Bogart springs to mind, that picture that was taken in the Hartcourt studio in Paris. He looks like Effi too, but the photo is much better – it was obviously taken with great care.


The animal keeper opens the door and comes in with a marabou that looks slightly confused. The keeper says that its name is Klapperkopp. Apparently Effi wasn’t available. What am I doing here anyway – it’s not as if they’ve been waiting for me doesn’t seem as if anyone has been waiting for me. The whole flash equipment and the concave grey background take up all the space in the room. The place where the model is supposed to stand is marked on the floor with a small cross made of strips of tape- it’s still not clear whether it will be used. The whole scene is like something from a bygone era, like in those films where famous New York fashion photographers wait proudly for their fashion divas to arrive with their six assistants in tow.

We find ourselves in the Berlin Zoological Gardens, the geographic hub of Berlin.


Klapperkopp is now standing on the cross reserved for the diva. He seems to recognise it straightaway. I take shots wildly, one photo after another, so quickly that sometimes only when one flash head actually reacts. Klapperkopp rears up, turns around, dances, turns around again, and then gawps at me. It can only be a maximum of 25cm between me and the marabou now.


This goes down to 20cm when its Schlampi, the rhino’s turn. For Bulette, the hippo, a more unapproachable 60cm is retained.

What is it that I want to do? Just to give a face to the names, nothing more.

Thanks for taking part!

Alexander von Reiswitz

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