Jan von Holleben Rearranges Everyday Items into Charming Whimsical Scenes

“I once ruled the worlds. Not just one, but many,” writes Jan von Holleben, an award-winning photographer based in Berlin. “I ruled them with mirrors and lenses. I ruled them with light and shadow and time. Sometimes I ruled with a trick of the eye. Through my camera, an entire cosmos took shape, and each world within it seemed to operate by a certain unfamiliar logic, like a sort of magical clockwork.”

Jan plays with our sense of space and perception. Most of his photographs are shot indoors. The floor turns into the sky or the sea. Ordinary objects like shoes and books and balls are strategically positioned into dreamy and adventurous compositions. Children are seen busting ghosts, discovering treasure chests, riding bikes over rocky terrain. Lines of white cups become the teeth of a dragon, yellow and red strips of cloth the fire of its mouth. Candy-coloured and enchanting, these photographs are more creative and entertaining than most material executed with digital special effects. In the way that it seamlessly blends fantasy with reality, Jan’s work is very much reminiscent of the production design found in the movies of the French filmmaker Michel Gondry – particularly in his hilarious The Science of Sleep (2006) starring Gael García Bernal and Charlotte Gainsbourg.

Jan von Holleben

The photographer was born in 1977. He grew up in the countryside of southern Germany. Inspired by his father’s photographic career, he picked up a camera at the age of 13. After pursuing studies in the teaching of children with disabilities at the Pädagogische Hochschule in Freiburg, Jan moved to London and earned a degree in the Theory and History of Photography at Surrey Institute of Art and Design. His artistry is heavily influenced by his pedagogical background. The human person is often depicted as a figure who gains knowledge and wisdom by way of fun and play.

Jan’s favourite collaborators, he says, are: “his friends and any pirates, fairies, dragons, monsters and punks that are about.” He greatly fancies loads of cups of fresh herbal tea, Bircher Müsli, colourful socks, his bike, long swims and walking in the mountains. His artworks can be found in a host of publications, among them, Die Zeit, SpiegelVogue Girl and Repubblica.

Links: Website (www.janvonholleben.com) | Facebook (www.facebook.com/janvonholleben) | Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan_von_Holleben) | Instagram (www.instagram.com/jannnnnnvonholleben) | Twitter (@JanVonHolleben)

Images used with permission.