Jacob Aue Sobol (b. 1976, Denmark) is constantly in search of someone with whom to share an intimate moment. As he travels around the world in his quest for intimacy, he uses the camera to record and to preserve these moments, fighting off their inherent transience.
The Danish photographers images are immediately recognisable, characterised first by their intimacy, and then by his consistent use of highly-contrasting black and white film. In Sobol’s photographs, deep shadows and bright highlights render his subjects equal, cutting beyond surface-level differences to focus on profound connections.
Throughout the years, Sobol has created work internationally, and currently resides in Copenhagen. Not only has travelling had a significant bearing on his work, but so too has the season in which he photographs. When the rest of the world enters hibernation, the Danish photographer is wide awake. ‘Every time winter arrives, I have an emotional and physical reaction that I want to live and take pictures. As the darkness surrounds the city, the crowds in the street disappear into the warmth of their homes. The warmth of the human body indoors in combination with the darkness and chill of winter is something I’ve always been drawn to.’
Sobol’s latest work brought him on a voyage through the American Deep South. Guided by a long-term ambition to understand what it means ‘to be an American’, Sobol’s journey was just the first part of a wider plan to visit all of the nation’s fifty states, connecting the divided country through his images. ’Some way or another, we are all influenced by American culture. I want to get the core of this culture that, for better or for worse, the rest of the world replicates.’
Despite this regional focus, the artist’s photographic fascination stems from an unwavering desire to photograph the body as our senses perceive it – and a will to capture life as it is being lived. For Sobol, the essence of ‘snapshot’ photography is an effective way of articulating his outlook, as well as a form of expression that expresses our emotions with the most immediacy. ‘Pocket cameras support the feeling that life is unpredictable and playful. At times I don’t feel like a photographer, but like somebody who keeps a detailed diary filled with vivid memories and emotions.’