The Munich pho­to­gra­pher Sonja Her­pich (born 1979) became intro­du­ced to a grea­ter public prac­tically over­night when the Süd­deut­sche Zei­tung repor­ted on her series of self-portraits as an Okto­ber­fest wai­t­ress entit­led “half kit­chen.” In this series she pho­to­gra­phed her­self twice a day: once in the morning before star­ting work and again in the eve­ning with obvious tra­ces of the festival’s tor­ment writ­ten on her face. There is a sense of unity in her com­mis­sio­ned work, docu­men­tary pho­to­gra­phy and inde­pen­dent pro­jects, as her own style is always pre­sent: In sur­roun­dings that are mostly typi­cal of the Bava­rian coun­try­side, she depicts the ugly, the tri­vial, or the boring as the sub­ject of her pho­to­graphs. She breaks with cli­chés, as well as ste­reo­ty­pi­cal expec­ta­ti­ons, not­ing with sub­tle irony that cul­tu­ral authen­ti­city is sever­ely end­an­ge­red in this set­ting. In turn, she does not over­look (Q3) the land­scape of the low-lying Nort­hern Ger­man shore­line. This region’s alar­ming order­liness and linea­rity only pro­voke con­tra­dic­tion, as these pho­to­graphs depict an even more orde­red and even more linearly struc­tu­red environ­ment. Her­pich, win­ner of a cove­ted 2012 Lead Award, has worked since 2011 as a pho­to­gra­pher for the maga­zine MUH, where she can indulge in her pre­fe­rence for Bava­rian folk and alter­na­tive culture—mostly through deli­be­rate poster-like pro­duc­tions that out­wardly con­vey the iro­nic dif­frac­tion, as well as the pecu­liar and bizarre nature of her sub­jects. Sonja Herpich’s pre­fe­rence for brea­king with con­ven­tion, also signals unusual com­po­si­ti­ons: some of her pho­to­graphs are crea­ted only as light box objects, others attain a whole new level of mea­ning through applied colo­red neon tubes.
It would be undoub­tedly short­sigh­ted to place the pho­to­gra­phy of Sonja Her­pich exclu­si­vely under the hea­ding of ‘a cri­ti­cal Bavaria-phile.’ Yet, is there anything bet­ter than to relish and stage pho­to­graphs of cul­tu­ral icons like Hans Söll­ner, Kofelg­schroa, LaBrass­Banda, and Ott­fried Fischer and at the same time joy­ously illus­trate the cul­ture clash of Northern-German tou­rists pic­ni­cking on a mountain.

Cur­ri­cu­lum Vitae
1979 born in Höch­städt an der Donau, Dil­lin­gen a. d. Donau disc­trict, Bavaria
2000–2003 Trai­ning as a pho­to­gra­pher in an adver­ti­sing stu­dio and in Deut­sches Museum, Munich
2003–2007 First free­lance works; photo assis­tance for famous inter­na­tio­nal fashion photographers
2007 Free­lance photographer
2011 Inte­gral part of the photo team of the Bava­rian MUH magazine
Sonja Her­pich lives and works in Munich
Exhi­bi­ti­ons (S = Solo show, D = Dou­ble show, G = Group exhibition)
2013 “Wel­come to Schla­waf­fen­land” (G), bene­fit exhi­bi­tion, Edgy&Cheesy, Munich
2015 ARTMUC (G), Pra­ter island, Munich
2015 „all­tag auf ewig“ (S), Ingo Seu­fert Gal­lery for Con­tem­porary Pho­to­gra­phy, Munich
2013/14 INTRO15“ (G), Ingo Seu­fert Gal­lery for Con­tem­porary Pho­to­gra­phy, Munich
2013 Mühl­bach­tage (D), Super2000, Munich
Toll­wood Fes­ti­val (G), olym­pic site, Munich
STROKE Art Fair (G), Pra­ter island, Munich
2012 „Visual Lea­der“ (G), House of Pho­to­gra­phy, Deich­tor­hal­len, Hamburg
Mühl­bach­tage: „Blick ins Fens­ter“ (D), Super2000, Munich
STROKE Art Fair (G), Pra­ter island, Munich
2011 YMC 2nd EDITION (G), whi­te­BOX Kult­fa­brik, Munich
STROKE Art Fair (G), Zenith, Munich
Pri­zes and awards
2012 Lea­dA­ward 2012 for archi­tec­ture and still life pho­to­gra­phy of the year; award
Biblio­gra­phy – Selection
2016 Almut Otto / Sonja Her­pich: „Hei­matrau­schen“, J. Berg, Munich, 2016
2015 Kathe­rine Sacks: “This Beer Maid Will Work Okto­ber­fest Until She Dies”, (9/18/2015)
2014 “Dan­cer in the Dark”, (11/27/2014)
Kathe­rine Sacks: “All­tag und Nach­we­hen einer Okto­ber­fest­be­die­nung”, (10/9/2014)
2012/13 “Sonja Her­pich”, in: Ele­phant Maga­zine, Issue 13 – Win­ter 2012/13, p. 196–197
2012 HeH: „Wiesn­ta­ge­buch der Foto­gra­fin Sonja Her­pich“, (9/21/2012)
2011 Catha­rina Tews: „Wie eine Alpen­über­que­rung“, (9/23/2011)
2011– MUH maga­zine – Bava­rian Aspects, maga­zine for Bava­rian cha­rac­ter and mischief
Alli­anz Ver­si­che­run­gen, Avant­garde – Gesell­schaft für Kom­mu­ni­ka­tion, Avant­garde Experts, Bio­land, Busi­ness First Ser­vices, CRP Kon­zert­agen­tur – Chiem­see Reg­gae Sum­mer, D.A.S. Ver­si­che­rung, Eulen­spie­gel Con­certs & Boo­king, ele­phant Maga­zin, DIE_FAVORITEN – Gesell­schaft für Mar­ken­er­leb­nisse, Geviert – Gra­fik & Typo­gra­fie, Gie­sin­ger Bräu, Hel­mut Mor­ri­son, Jane Goo­dall Stif­tung, Kel­ler Steff Band, Kin­der­mu­seum Mün­chen, K&L Rup­pert, Kofelg­schroa, Lidl, Louis Vouit­ton, Mar­cel Oster­tag, merz punkt, Phi­lip Mor­ris, Sü, Stren­esse, Trikont
Jane Goo­dall, Ali Mit­gutsch, Ott­fried Fischer, Hans Söll­ner, LaBrass­Banda, Die­ter Wie­land, Hans Well, Kel­ler Steff Band, Kofelgschroa

Sonja Her­pich

Sonja Herpich

Sonja Her­pich is not an incon­spi­cuous pho­to­gra­pher. She points to her magenta hair: ‘I’m very colour­ful, so people know it when I’m approa­ching them with a camera. I don’t hide well.’ Her pho­to­graphs are the­re­fore quite direct, point blank, a ‘you see me and I see you’ con­fron­ta­tion, even when there is no per­son on the recei­ving end of the lens. But con­fron­ta­tion can be as honest as the indi­rect voy­eu­rism of ‘sto­len’ shots. That’s why Her­pich calls her style ‘very natu­ral’. Many of her pho­tos are woven from dif­fe­rent shades and vivid tex­tures. She’s drawn to colour even when the resul­ting pho­to­graph is in black and white, she says, because Munich can be very de-saturated other­wise. You’ll notice that there’s hardly any graf­fiti here, says Her­pich. It’s a very clean city, and she’s attrac­ted to its messy parts.” (Ele­phant Maga­zine, Issue 13 – Win­ter 2012/13, S. 196)