About Nils Müller
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Nils Müller (b. 1982) is a photographer from Cologne, Germany. His work evolves around humans and their emotions. Müller is best known for his Vandals series, which documents the world-wide graffiti movement of writers who leave their name on public transport. After several years of working under harsh conditions on four different continents, Müller has taken this series to unexpected dimensions and is now one of the most famous photographers to document graffiti. In contrast to his studio work, which comes without any time pressure, his work is characterized by the oft-cited Moment décisif.
In this way, he stands in a 30 year old tradition. In comparison however to Martha Cooper and Henry Chalfant, who were some of the first to document the graffiti culture in NYC in the early 1980s, the photos of Müller can be seen as a extension and also as pioneer work: On Müller’s photos the painted object is secondary; the actors and their emotions always have priority.
Müller has specialized in documenting the process of painting subways, which is considered the top prize within the international graffiti world. Subways hold such a high value because of the difficulty, the danger and risk involved. Subway painting has separated itself from the common graffiti community as it is a more secretive sect of the elite who push the bar and have created something which can be likened to an extreme graffiti sport. Regardless of the subway system or the country, razor wired fences have to be cut or climbed, moion sensors, cameras, and alarm systems have to be overcome and if something goes wrong, be ready to run.
A notable aspect to Müller’s work is his ability to keep create an environment which is neutral, he neither commends nor condemns his subjects, allowing the viewer to form their own conclusion. He shows a view into a split second of his reality from his perspective, often when things are happening so fast that there isn’t a second to stop. There is a story that is told, the skillful entering through secured emergency exits, the swift dash on subway tracks while the subway system is in service. The emotions that are captured are stem from successes to failures; the tension and fear, the sense of focus and determination are clearly felt throughout his work.