“I once ruled the worlds. Not just one, but many. 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.”
Born in 1977 in Cologne and brought up in the southern German countryside, Jan von Holleben lived most of his youth in an alternative commune and identifies a strong connection between the development of his photographic work and the influence of his parents, a cinematographer and child therapist. At the age of 13, he followed his father’s photographic career by picking up a camera and experimenting with all sorts of „magical tricks“, developing his photographic imagination and skills with friends and family and later honing his technique in commercial settings. After pursuing studies in teaching children with disabilities at the Pädagogische Hochschule in Freiburg, he moved to London, earned a degree in the Theory and History of Photography at Surrey Institute of Art and Design, and became submerged within the London photographic scene, where he worked as picture editor, art director and photographic director. He quickly set up two photographic collectives, Young Photographers United and photodebut, followed more recently by the Photographer’s Office. His body of photographic work focusing on the ‘homo ludens’ – the man who learns through play, is itself built from a playful integration of pedagogical theory with his own personal experiences of play and memories of childhood.
Jan von Holleben’s work has been exhibited internationally and published widely throughout the world.
His favourite collaborators are: his friends and any pirates, fairies, dragons, monsters and punks that are about. Also the sun behind some tiny clouds, Zeit Magazin, Neon Magazine Dazed&Confused, Geo and Steidl Publishers.
Otherwise he greatly fancies loads of cups of green tea, Bircher Müsli, colourful socks & sneakers, his bike and walking in the mountains, Yo yo yo!