12 May 2012

Back from Down Under: Adam Jahnke

Jahnke in front of Sydney Opera House
(aus_22; December 11, 2011)
   "I stayed in Australia a bit longer than initially expected," Adam Jahnke told us last week. "But it was time well-spent, and I am finally home." Jahnke has made a name for himself by documenting some of the world's social and environmental ills through his photography. He has previously travelled through parts of Latin America and rode a bicycle across the United States, and now he is just back  from his latest trip. His photography-work has interested us for its sharp contrasts and angles, its vivid use of varying light, and for its often startling subjects which have the tendency of awakening our wider, global consciousness, and the new series only shows him to be broadening his abilities.

   Jahnke originally posted the photos from his trip to his blog from Australia in six segments titled:
-Survival is a constant struggle no matter where you are: 2011 November 17
-Mistakes were made: 2011 December 11
-Welcome the plague year: 2012 January 3
-The story so far: 2012 February 1
-Wildlife: 2012 March 18
-Tomorrow: 2012 April 19

   Two of the pics he took in Australia were featured in his introductory article with us. We've included the rest of our favorites below. 

Aus_471 (February 1, 2012)

Aus_70 (April 19, 2012)

Aus_71 (April 19, 2012)

Aus_60 (March 18, 2012)

Aus_50 (February 1, 2012)

Aus_67 (April 19, 2012)

   Particularly notable is the supreme night work which doesn't shy away from drenching the image in shadows and silhouettes, while still keeping lit enough to provoke a fresh romanticism.
   Often preferring to let his photos speak for themselves, Jahnke told us: "These images you have chosen all collectively reflect my feelings about where I was and what I was doing at the time, whether the feelings were conscious or sub-conscious. The photographs overall can appear, disjointed, funny, absurd, macabre and/or confusing. These photos are exercises in deciphering me and how I view my immediate  environment. For example, the photo entitled Aus_60, was taken while I was spending time in the southern most reaches of Tasmania. Initially while i was composing the frame I was feeling very distant and extremely far from home and for a split second that emotion overwhelmed me and left as quickly as it came on. Once the emotion had passed I was able to harness what I had just experienced and have that feeling manifest itself though my camera. That's all I have for these images."  

Aus_66 (April 19, 2012)

   We appreciate the mystery and openness that Jahnke seeks to preserve for the viewer, but for certain images, especially Aus_66 (directly above) we were impelled to try again: "This particular photo seems to require a little background. As it is, it looks like the remains of a little bird. Is it the remains of some other animal's meal? The bones, particularly what looks like the spine, looks like it's been interwoven with tiny rocks. Is it someone's sculpture, sacrifice, or magic spell? Did you find it as is or did you manipulate it?" 
   "Hey YowzerYowzer. I really hope I am not coming off as a diva," Jahnke laughed in response. "I really enjoy your questions and greatly appreciate your interest in my work, so don't hesitate to ask me anything. In regards to the photo, I took this image in what felt to be the end of the world in Tasmania. It is fascinating that the photo appears to be the remains of a small bird. From what I could gather from the scene, it appeared to be the remnants of a seal that had been washed up on the rocks and had been picked at for some time by the surrounding fauna. The carcass was fairly large measuring six feet in length. Nothing about this is altered, but I do have to admit to some stick-poking in an effort to find the skull which had already been harvested. I hope this helps."
   Thanks for the info, Adam. And thanks for the image which is a respectful tribute to a fellow mammal, fallen in the pursuit of survival.

Aus_54 (March 18, 2012)

   Though we didn't have any background on the above photo, it is clearly a keeper for its capture of the intersection between formal dress and non-dress, and between protest and celebration.  Possibly not coincidentally, the World Naked Bike Ride took place in March, with an active leg through Australia. The stated aim of the organized event was to:
peacefully expose the vulnerability of cyclists, humanity and nature in the face of cars, aggression, consumerism and non-renewable energy. 

Aus_27 (January 3, 2012)

Aus_411 (February 1, 2012)

Aus_36 (January 3, 2012)

Aus_74 (April 19, 2012)

   Jahnke's travel pics certainly ride the spectrum of emotions including the serenely beautiful, the profoundly grim, the downright spooky, and even the raucously funny. With his finger ever-ready on the shutter button, Jahnke is continuing to introduce us to sides of life we often neglect. But whether here at home or on the flip-side of the equator, Jahnke maintains his natural understanding of composition, light, color, and subject which keeps us thrilled, awed, and connected to the totality of our planet. Now that he's home maybe we can start looking forward to a new show, as well as some stirring glimpses of his hometown. Welcome back, Adam!

[Feel free to see all of Jahnke's Australia pics on his website by clicking here. This is our second feature on Adam Jahnke. To see our introductory feature with him, click here.]

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