Born in Mississippi and educated at Harvard University, Allen Frame came of age as a photographer in the downtown New York art scene. While directing and performing an adaptation of David Wojnarowicz’s Sounds in the Distance in New York and later West Berlin, he collaborated with figures such as Steve Buscemi, Nan Goldin, John Edward Heys, and Bill Rice. During the city’s 1984 film festival, he directed a performance in a West Berlin loft. Frame notes, “After that experience directing, my compositions became more stylized. They look really controlled, although they’re not… My photographic ‘capture’ was like street photography brought inside with fast reflexes, shooting fast to get something that feels natural but is very composed looking at the same time.”
Frame draws on the charged physical environment of Berlin to render evocative, intimate scenes with cinematic allure. In one photograph, his subjects, co-stars Butch and Frank, share a smoke break during rehearsals at the performance loft in the Kreuzberg neighborhood, with an open window inviting speculation on the Berlin Wall that sits just outside. Frame adds of the scene, “Kreuzberg, with its Turkish restaurants and trendy bars so close to the Wall, seemed exotic to us, but the whole divided city, with its edgy style, dense atmosphere, and historical importance, struck me as a hugely heightened, mysterious place.” Frame included this image in his 2001 book, Detour.