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Angelo Musco in Berlin

18 November 2014

Imagine ancient Babel: the city and its tower. All the world’s people striving in unity to attain heaven, rising ever upward, brick by brick. Such a conception, such vision, such ambition; a project almost unimaginable in its scale and complexity.

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‘The Tower of Babel’ by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, c.1563

The legend says humanity was divided by language and scattered across the earth as punishment for its hubris. But humans still dream; we continue to imagine. In the mind of one man the people of nations can be reunited and rise once more… body by body.

That man is Angelo Musco.

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© Angelo Musco, all rights reserved, angelomusco.com

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© Angelo Musco, all rights reserved, angelomusco.com

Angelo is building a new Tower of Babel – a photographic Tower of Babel.

“Nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do”

It will be a work of truly staggering dimensions. Every layer, every wall, every column, every archway, every brick, every atom – all will be formed of naked bodies: humanity from across the globe, patiently photographed, painstakingly assembled over months and years.

“Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language”

Confirmation

Without realising it, I became a part of this project when Angelo came to London on 19 October last year. What I did know for sure, however, was that if a chance came to volunteer for him again I would jump at it without hesitation.

When it emerged on 13 June that he would be shooting in Berlin on a particular date, I booked my flight that same evening. The announcement said no-one should make any plans until all details were confirmed but Berlin is my favourite capital on the continent so the worst case scenario would still be a great weekend away.

First priority was to be given to locals who wished to take part. Total numbers involved would be limited according to the size of the studio. Nonetheless, all the planets lined up kindly – not only was I able to take part, but so too were many of my UK modelling and performance friends.

Berlin

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Arrival in Berlin, Friday evening

The shoot was set for Saturday 4 October 2014 at the Forum Factory Performance Venue, not far from Checkpoint Charlie. I woke that morning in Berlin-Apartments and met fellow travellers Martin, Yvonne, Carol and Helmut at breakfast. The five of us would be taking part.

A few minutes on the U6 line brought us to Checkpoint Charlie, where we had enough time in the brisk autumnal sunshine to see a few sights and be introduced by Helmut to Germany’s beloved currywurst.

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Helmut, Martin and Yvonne – of course we knew how to get there

At 11am-ish, we descended on D!NER67, just around the corner from the studio, there to meet other veterans: Chas, Clifford, Cy and Glynis. At the studio itself we met three more familiar faces that had flown in from the UK: John, Tony and Mike.

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Gathering of the tribe at D!NER67

With ten of us having crossed the channel, plus Swiss-based Glynis, it meant that 11 from the UK would be taking part out of just 22 in total. Where were all the Germans? It’s a shame that more locals were not tempted to be a part of something so fantastic. I was really quite surprised.

Studio

Two days earlier we’d been sent the following to help us prepare:

We will meet promptly at 12pm at FORUM FACTORY.

As a reminder, please refrain from wearing any and all jewelry and/or accessories; anything removable should be removed. We will have an area available to store all your belongings during the shoot. If at all possible, please postpone your manicures and pedicures; pigments on nails are distracting within the final compositions. Also, please be considerate of your fellow models and attend to basic hygiene prior to arrival.

This is a private shoot and no spectators will be allowed entrance. However, should you have a companion that decides at the last minute that he/she would like to model, we will accept all participants up until the shoot begins, but it would be better if we know a few day before so we can add them to the list.

We will start around noon and we will finish around 4pm more or less. It will take 4 full hours so if you need to leave earlier we understand so please do so without interrupting the shoot, and if you need to arrive later please jump into the composition in-between creation of a composition and after you sign it with one of our assistants who will welcome you upon your arrival.

Again, thank you all so much for your enthusiasm and contribution to what we are sure will be another fun shoot!

We signed the official “hold harmless and release” model forms, grabbed a coffee and assembled in the studio to be reunited with Angelo. He introduced us to his assistant photographer for the day, Katja Hoffmann, and briefed us on his plans for the shoot.

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Angelo explains all, watched by Katja in daring yellow shoes

We undressed. For most of the time we would be in two groups, one photographed by Angelo and the other by Katja. In the first half of the session we would be laying down on the floor while the photographers captured us from the top of stepladders.

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© Angelo Musco, all rights reserved, angelomusco.com

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© Angelo Musco, all rights reserved, angelomusco.com

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© Angelo Musco, all rights reserved, angelomusco.com

We created rows of three or four on our front, back and sides; we curled in clusters of three or four; we constantly swapped around in our groups; we lined up, stretching out on our front, back and sides again; we formed a single magnificent mass of humanity.

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© Angelo Musco, all rights reserved, angelomusco.com

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© Angelo Musco, all rights reserved, angelomusco.com

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© Angelo Musco, all rights reserved, angelomusco.com

After a break we switched to working on our feet as groups in conversation or gazing out of imaginary windows. This came as a relief after the bruising, sometimes painful work of contorting and rolling over the hard studio floor. We were working rapidly with constant direction, but everyone was in great humour and high spirits throughout.

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© Angelo Musco, all rights reserved, angelomusco.com

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© Angelo Musco, all rights reserved, angelomusco.com

At around half past three, Angelo decided he had all the images he could hope to get from the session and duly called it a day. Back in our clothes we took a few souvenir photos, both as a group and individually with the great man.

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Yvonne, Chas, Carol, Helmut, Angelo, Clifford, Glynis, Me, Cy, Martin

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Model and artist

Aftermath

We reacclimatised back at D!NER67. Each of us had to head in a different direction at different times on different days, but most were able to spend a relaxing evening at the Europa Center Thermal Spa. The next morning I joined Martin, Yvonne and Carol at top quality exhibitions of works by Picasso and Klee.

And when it could be put off no longer, I flew home. Within a few days Angelo shared some of his behind the scenes photos – a selection of which are above – and within a fortnight we even had a beautiful video memento. Check out the superb demonstration of shoelace knotting at the end…

All eyes are now turned towards Paris in the springtime, and the possibility of another Angelo Musco photo shoot next year. Again, priority must be given to the locals, and numbers may be limited by studio space. Nonetheless, for guaranteed support from a loyal following, let’s hope the Brits are allowed to make a return.

I for one can’t wait for the date to be announced.

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© Angelo Musco, all rights reserved, angelomusco.com

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