JACOB AUE SOBOL

Arrivals and Departures

21. 6. — 8. 9. 2013
The exhibited series, ‘Arrivals and Departures: Moscow – Ulaanbaatar – Beijing’, consists of black-and-white photographs taken on journeys between these three mutually distant cities.

This is the first series Jacob Aue Sobol, a Magnum photographer from Denmark, made using a digital camera, the Leica M Monochrome. In a unique idiom, these photos tell stories of towns. Whereas Sobol’s street photography is distinguished by almost painterly compositions and the masterly use of the grey scale, his portraits are characterized by a nearly painful sense of intimacy and proximity, in which the boundary between subject and observer seems almost to dissolve.

The exhibition is being held under the auspices of the Danish Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Mr. Christian Hoppe.

"It was a trip I had always wanted to take; The legendary journey along the Trans Siberian Railway. Denmark, my native country, you can cross in five hours by train, but in Russia the distances are huge. I was curious if the connection between people and places would feel different considering the fact that I would pass every tree, every house and every village on my way to Beijing. The first chock came already when I entered the train. It was completely empty. The whole idea of the project had been to meet people on the train and make intimate stories from the train compartments. But riding this ghost-train, I had to change the concept: The intimate work had to come from my encounters with people in the cities and the train became the read thread connecting Moscow, Ulaanbaatar and Beijing. On the train I ended up with my camera glued to the window photographing the change of landscape as we were let along the russian forests, the mongolian desert and through the mountains to Beijing.

But it was not only Russia, Mongolia and China that was unknown land to me - so was my equipment. It was my first time using a digital camera. Everything was new, but then again, my ambition is always the same; to use the camera as a tool to create contact, closeness and intimacy.

Every time I start a new project, I start shooting in color, because I am afraid to repeat myself, but later I realize that it is not really something I can make a rational decision about. If I can't emotionally connect with my images, if I can't feel that pinch in my stomach, they mean nothing to me, and so I always return to B&W and find my voice again. Working with black and white has always been the most direct way for me to reach more existential questions. In black and white I feel my images are not bound to a specific location or time. They create their own universe.

I never found it interesting to look at someone from the other side of the street, or to be “invisible” as a photographer. I hope this is the reason why people never feel like a voyeur looking at my images – because you feel that you are taking part. To me, this is when images grow from showing to being. This is when the pictures are not telling a story about “them” but about “us”.

Jacob Aue Sobol

Photos by: Jacob Aue Sobol | MAGNUM Photos