What’s Better Than Swiss Chocolate?

We ran into Alban Lavy’s photography a couple of weeks ago and admired greatly the worldliness and sense of irony underlying a lot of his photos. Aside from his photography, his gallery La Placette also caught our attention because it serves one of the best Swiss chocolates, Ragusa, every day of the year! We interviewed Lavy to discuss the best places to photograph in Berlin and to find out how to appease the craving for Swiss food in Berlin!

BAPS: Your photographs on display in your current exhibition are taken in cities all over the world. What inspired this world tour?

AL: I like to travel but I don’t like acting like a tourist. I always look for local contacts before going. After that, I can start to go deeper to a place, trying to understand how the locals live. I’m not interested in the superficial beauty of a city, I try to take the pulse of the resident population. I want to feel the life behind the facades.

BAPS: What was your favourite stop?

AL: Berlin was, in 2007, the first destination of this “world tour”… And it’s now one of my home bases. Otherwise, it is Istanbul, an amazing mega-city you never can stop exploring.

BAPS: What’s the story behind your gallery in Berlin? Also, why did you pick Berlin as a settling point for your gallery?

AL: To open a multifunctional place like La Placette was an old dream that was only possible to realise in Berlin. Partly because of the relatively low prices, but also because it’s a great place for experiments, and a multicultural city where you can easily meet interesting people.

BAPS: For those homesick and missing Switzerland or for those who love Swiss food, where would you say is the best place to find authentic Swiss food in Berlin?

AL: At La Placette you can get wonderful coffee with a piece of Ragusa, delicious Swiss chocolate. Otherwise, Helvetia Röschti Bar in Kreuzberg 36.

BAPS: Your current exhibition is called “Here or Somewhere Else.” In this moment, would you rather be here, or somewhere else? If somewhere else, where?

AL: I would like to be here AND somewhere else. Where exactly? It depends, somewhere different every day. Unfortunately I haven’t the gift of being in several different places at the same time… thus Berlin is a good compromise.

BAPS: You photograph various demonstrations and social movements in Berlin, what would you say is the best location for a demonstration?

AL: Any place is good for a demonstration, particulary the area between Neukölln, a popular district currently undergoing gentrification, and Brandenburger Tor, the government, rich, touristic area.

BAPS: You photograph a lot of street art. What is your favorite street art or artist in Berlin?

AL: The graffiti scene, the illicit one. What would be Berlin’s streets without that art?

BAPS: When can we look forward to seeing your work again, do you have any projects in the works?

AL: I’m actually planing a new trip to Mexico. So, maybe next year. It’s another of my favourite places.

Check out Lavy’s exhibition that is running until June 8th 2012, or stop by La Placette for some delicious Swiss chocolate! You can also find more of Lavy’s work here