JAN OTTO SCHREIBER

Equivalent I-III (2011)

The Desert Project (2010)

Somewhere between the Shores (2009)

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pool+

Jia Zi Zha Press

The Photo Coterie

T.Tam

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When did you have the idea for 'Somewhere between the Shores'?

I’ve traveled to and also lived in Down Under for almost 2 decades and one day I asked myself, sitting in a plane 40000 ft above to ground ‘what does it look like down there?’ And I decided I would like to take a 4x4 Jeep and drive from Europe to Australia – but unfortunately this sounds easier than it is. Alternatively I thought 'why not get on a ship', so that’s what I did.

 

How much time did you spent from conceive to execute?

It took some time to find the right ship and the right time of year – you don’t want to get into heavy autumn storms which can last for weeks – luckily we only had one mayor storm. Generally speaking all of my projects need a couple of month planning.

 

What reasons made you want to escape from commercial photography to this peaceful and pure project?

I like being my own art director and working on my own creative projects. Simplicity and  minimalist style is something that I enjoy in everyday aesthetics – in my work I try to create images that are timeless.

 

How was your daily life during that period? And did you write diary then?

A cargo ship is a world of it’s own, its like a self contained economy there. The isolation from the rest of the world was surreal - no emails, no phone calls, and pretty much no news on what’s going on in the world. I knew being on a cargo ship would put me in a unique atmosphere.

I made notes of thoughts and of things that happen – yeah, you could call it a diary.

 

This isolation sounds like a kind of meditation, so what did you do except took photos during that period?

It was meditation, looking at the sea for hours and waiting for the right moment, sometimes I was waiting for a ship or island to pass which sometimes took days.

 

How the others look like on that cargo ship? Did you have any stories of them?

25 crew members of Russian and Filipino decent, I spent Christmas and new year on board and they loved karaoke and of course I had to sing as well. Apart from that, it’s a working ship – so everyone is pretty busy or just tired from long shifts.

 

I guess this experience is completely different with your commercial career, I'm wondering how you got through that time or that just some life what you fancied before.

Before my 41 day voyage  I’ve worked 4 years without a break. So this journey was a long needed break from the world of advertising. But I love both – the exciting and thrilling world of creating ads and the wonderful world of art.

 

How about your life right now? Are you working on any projects?

I just finished another small project and already working on the next one. As well I want to show ‘Somewhere between the Shores’ in exhibitions around the world.

 

Interview by Toby Tam