Since 2009, Jana Gerberding has lived and worked in Berlin as a successful fashion photographer. Her images take the viewer on a journey – gently and instantaneously, they lead to places of quiet beauty, poetic landscapes and almost surreal dream sequences. At the forefront there is a game of ambivalence. Gerberding describes the search for this as unconscious: as something that she doesn’t plan, but it can be continuously found in her work.
- *1983, lives and works in Berlin
- Diploma Photography, FH Dortmund 2010
“Everything beautiful also has something non-beautiful, everything that is loud has something quiet.“
As a Berliner who was born in Lower Saxony, in the Oderbruch region, how did your eponymous series come about?
The entire series is the first since my studies that wasn’t centered on fashion and the first that I returned to film for. A magazine asked me to create a portrait of a place I love.I love this place, because … because it is unbelievably beautiful – but the beauty only comes out at second glance. It has this very raw “East Charm” that isn’t obviously beautiful, rather it’s somehow surreal and a bit quirky – that’s why I’ve always returned there. The photographs are as the place is.I was often there on the weekends. On one or two weekends I traveled around and stopped at all the places that had little disruptions – like the chassis that was just being dismantled or the branch split by lightning.
Is that something that interests you: photographing the calm after the storm or finding the beauty in… ?
I’m not perfect. That’s exactly my theme. Ambivalence pervades my work because I see these two sides in all things: Everything beautiful also has something non-beautiful, everything that is loud has something quiet. I seek out this antithesis in my work – not consciously, but I find it again and again in my work.
That’s a little reminiscent of Bob Dylan: “There’s a crack in everything, that’s where the light gets in.”
That’s true, that’s lovely.
Let’s talk about your nudes. In their original sizes they are almost like landscapes. Is this transformation also a motif that you enjoy working with?
Actually, this can be found throughout my work: it plays with an obvious beauty. In this case with a beautiful body that is deformed. Many see a woman’s behind as a sex symbol, exactly like breasts. Because of the size of the print, 1,30m x 1,20m, the nipples are completely in the background, it’s about the two-dimensionality, as you said, which is like a landscape.
You said that you prefer photos that come across as authentic and instantaneous. Wolfgang Tillmans has something that has the effect of a drumbeat, even if his photos have a completely different tone.
Yes, my photography is much quieter. A collection of moments. I work incredibly intuitively. I don’t want to know ahead of time how the photo will look. It limits my creativity too much. I like to throw myself into situations that aren’t predetermined. And then I try to react to them.
The choice of location isn’t predetermined?
It’s literally the basic parameter. I don’t build up my images in advance, rather there is a place where I photograph. But it can happen that I’m standing there and realize: I don’t like this. And I turn around and go to the football pitch across the way and do the shoot.