German photographer Christian Vagt first moved to Berlin in the late ’80s, when he was just 18 years old. In 1991, shortly after he arrived, he started photographing squatters in the East of the city, shooting a series of gritty, authentic and highly intimate portraits.
“We started squatting because the Wall came down,” Vagt says of the time. “There was a housing shortage in West Berlin and for the first time [in East] you could actually just go to a flat, kick down the door and put your lock on it, live there for three months, go to the housing office and apply for a contract. That was possible.”
With the cheap living costs and no real need to work came an immense sense of freedom. “You could survive on very little money,” the photographer remembers. “At that time, people would call us ‘slackers’ because we were long-haired, didn’t give a fuck and definitely hated capitalism.”
Vagt eventually got a job working as a photographer at SO36 – an LGBTQ punk club in Kreuzberg, in 1997. From there, he honed his skills and began creating a visual portrait of what would later be seen as Berlin’s thriving queer punk scene.
“I just wanted to have photographs with my friends,” he says. “I came across people who were punks or skinheads – they were my friends or lovers, you know? It wasn’t that I was approaching the scene from the outside; it was just the people I was hanging out with or going to bed with.”
You can see more of Christian Vagt’s work on his official website.
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