PORTRAIT: Through the day with achim Szepanski
On Mai 31st and June 1st 2013 I accompanied Achim Szepanski through the neighbourhood of the central train station neighbourhood in Frankfurt.
Significant periods of both of our life’s took place here.
Szepanski has lived and worked here for decades and it is from here he operated his label empire, which consisted mainly of the techno label Force Inc and abstract electronic music outlet Mille Plateaux. Kaiserstrasse, the neighbourhood’s main street with its sleazy sex-shops, brothels and a vivid street drugs scene, was the first impression I got of Frankfurt when I moved to the city in 1982.
The neighbourhood was also home to influential music clubs like Maxims, Romantica and the Rhiz Bar. From the mid to end of the 90ies, when the HIV epidemic was hitting hard among intravenous drug users, I worked in the district as a street worker at a harm reduction center.
Up until today the neighbourhood is still resisting gentrification attempts, but the red-light district is shrinking from year to year.
After Szepanski’s labels became insolvent in 2004 he dove into the district’s table-dance bar scene, and based on his times & experiences there, he wrote years later a couple of hyper-realistic novels dealing with urbanisation, individualisation and Frankfurt’s new economy.
When Detroit based collective Underground Resistance, with its pop-militant gestures, were an inspiration for Szepanski in launching Force Inc in 1991 and when Gille Deleuze’s theory served as a theoretical framework for MiIle Plateaux, so was also “Infinite Jest”, an epic novel by US-writer David Foster Wallace an important trigger for the origins of Szepanski’s writing career.
During the same weekend we met, the anti-capitalist movement Blockupy was staging their actions in town. Multiple blocks around the European Central Bank at the borders to the central train station district were completely sealed off with barricades, barbed-wire, and protected by thousands of police officers. A larger demonstration took place on June 1st, which ended with many arrests and over 200 people injured. A day prior to these events, Szepanski gave a lecture at the music-theory-meets-philosophy conference “Sound Thinking,” on the campus of Goethe University.
From the late 90ies until mid 2000 I worked for Szepanski and released my own sound works on his labels.
Szepanski just released his book on Marx’s terminology of “non-economics”, which marks his return working as a theorist.